Greetings from St. Paul, Minn. As of early afternoon it was still snowing, but least it’s not snowing sideways anymore, like it was earlier in the day.
The Kings, coming off a 4-3 shootout loss at Nashville on Tuesday night, held an optional skate Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center. Most players chose to stay off the ice and instead do stretching and other exercises, or play soccer.
The Kings’ 1-4-4 road record continues to be a concern for them, and right wing Justin Williams said the team is intent on ending this three-game trip on a positive note. Williams, always honest and insightful, said no one is panicking, a reaction consistent with the personality this team has developed after going through so many playoff games the last few seasons and winning the Stanley Cup twice in three seasons.
But Williams also said players want to address their road record before it becomes a bigger problem and hangs over them all season. So while there’s no panic ...
“But we need to get a win tonight. We know that,” he said. “And we’re putting a lot of emphasis on this game for sure, so I expect a gung-ho start tonight. That’s what I envision.”
He also said he’s not exactly sure why the Kings have struggled to win away from Staples Center but that the key is to calmly look for solutions. One common thread he cited is that the Kings’ opponents have often scored first, and that’s true: The Kings have scored the first goal in only two of their nine road games.
“We start chasing games and teams are good at home and there’s no layups anymore. Plain and simple. Every team is good and wants to take care of their home ice,” said Williams, who is riding a five-game point streak and has three goals and six points in that span.
“It’s not something I’m worried about but something I really want to focus on because you certainly don’t want that label and you don’t want that coming in the dressing room like, ‘Oh, we’re on the road now.’ It never will. But just the thought is something you don’t want.”
Finding a way to resolve this as a team is intriguing to Williams.
“The good thing with hockey is that no matter how many years I play in the league, there’s always a different aspect or different spin on how seasons go and you learn stuff all the time,” he said. “That’s I think why I still love it, why I enjoy playing.”