Darryl Sutter, master of the message, was at work the other day here, going out of his way to tout the considerable abilities of Flames second-year center Sean Monahan.
It was viewed as vintage Sutter, according to longtime followers of the cagey coach, those long experienced at decoding his methods.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, given the opportunity to take a seat on the hype machine, did not. He was asked about how difficult it was to combat the Flames’ No. 1 line with Monahan centering Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau.
“I guess they’ve had success this year,” Doughty said on Thursday after the morning skate here. ”But I don’t know, I still don’t see them as some of the other lines in the league, that’s for sure. They’re definitely a good line and they’ve been playing great and Monahan is a very good player.”
Hudler has 29 goals and 73 points and happens to be a plus-14. Gaudreau, heading into Thursday night’s action, is leading a very tight rookie NHL scoring race with 62 points. Monahan has 31 goals and 61 points.
“But it’s nothing that we can’t handle,” Doughty said. “We still have one of the best defense corps in the league. We have very good defensive forwards too. We haven’t been able to shut them down so far this year, but tonight, in order to win, we’re going to have to.”
The Kings’ predicament is self-inflicted, if you look back at some road losses -- for example, to the likes of Buffalo and Carolina -- earlier in the season.
“We’ve done it to ourselves,” center Jeff Carter said. “We’ve been inconsistent throughout the year.”
Carter, who has 28 goals and 61 points, has played in every game this season, Sutter noted. He was sick with flu-like symptoms when the Kings were in Calgary shortly after Christmas and still pushed through.
“I think he’s had a really consistent year,” Sutter said. “Touch wood: The biggest thing with Jeff this year is that he’s stayed healthy. He hasn’t missed any games.
“If you look, it was in here, Calgary/Edmonton, when he was doubtful to play and he played both those games. ... Durability for top players is paramount.”
No major lineup changes are anticipated, although there's a chance center Mike Richards may return because he did not stay out for extra work after the morning skate.