VANCOUVER, Canada — Three games remaining in the regular season on the yellow brick road to the playoffs, and the Kings finally catch a break in the schedule.
They don't play again until Wednesday.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter is always mulling schedules and timetables — maybe it's the lasting influence of his early farm years — and he pondered what to do during the three days between games. One consideration was having a mini-camp in scenic Banff, Alberta, before Wednesday's game at Calgary.
Sutter ultimately decided against it, considering the rigorous travel schedule of this past month. Sunday was a recovery day and the Kings will practice on Monday and Tuesday in El Segundo, giving forward Dwight King and defenseman Drew Doughty the chance to heal a bit more.
Doughty injured his shoulder in Thursday's game at San Jose and did not play in Saturday's 2-1 loss at Vancouver. Nor did King, who has an unspecified injury and has missed the last four games. Sutter said, regarding Doughty and King, that it would be "good to get a couple of days off for them all."
The circumstances enabled defenseman Andrew Campbell, who has spent six seasons in the minor leagues, to make his NHL debut, against the Canucks. He logged 14-plus minutes of ice time, had two shots on goal and was a minus-one and on the ice for the winning goal by former King forward Brad Richardson with 1:23 left.
"We had to get minutes out of all four lines and all six defensemen," Sutter said of Campbell's debut. "We finished a long stretch of games and we were playing a pretty good hockey club, a veteran team, and you had to get minutes out of them.
"For the most part, he was solid. It's what you expect of him. He's not a kid. You just have to get the puck and move it. I'm sure the pace was an adjustment for him."
The Kings were especially enthused that Campbell was able to make his NHL debut on a nationally televised game on "Hockey Night in Canada."
Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, 36, remembered his NHL debut as a youngster in the New Jersey Devils organization. His first game for the Devils was in Toronto, also on Hockey Night, in March of 2000.
Mitchell retold the story of when he got the word. He was well into dinner in St. John's, Newfoundland, when the radio guy for their minor league team (Albany) said that the John Cuniff, the coach of the River Rats, was looking from him. (Cuniff died in 2002).
"He said, I think you got the call. I'm like, 'I guess I shouldn't have had these three beers at dinner,'" Mitchell said, laughing.
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