Kings attempting to halt slide in the standings

Kings are third from the bottom in the Western Conference, five points out of a playoff spot

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter can change direction with the best.

Sutter fielded a question about the Florida Panthers after Thursday’s morning skate, pulled the conversation where he wanted it to go and got his edgy point across.

“They’re trying to make the playoffs, same as the Los Angeles Kings,” Sutter said. “They’re in a better position than we are, so maybe their evolution is better than ours.”

If it hasn’t quite hit an emergency-type level around the Kings, well, it is getting close. The team is third from the bottom in the Western Conference, five points out of a playoff spot and trails Calgary and San Jose by seven points in the Pacific Division.

There appears to be one tweak to the defense for Thursday night's game in Florida. Sutter said that Jamie McBain will play against the Panthers, which would be his first appearance in the lineup since Jan. 8. It appears that defenseman Brayden McNabb could be the odd man out.

Florida will be without defenseman Willie Mitchell, the former King, who is dealing with an injury apparently suffered against the Islanders on Tuesday.

For the Kings, McBain has been an asset on the power play when he has been on his game. Of his seven points, three have come on the power play.

“We’re making a change because it’s not who is going in, it’s who is going out, gotta play better for us,” Sutter said. “A right-handed defenseman for a left-handed defenseman. We’ll see. We’re trying to win hockey games. Tough to develop players at this level.

“Gotta be ready to go or else you don’t get to play.”

McBain, who is one point shy of 100 career points, has been biding his time. Experience has helped him deal with the waiting game.

“It’s happened throughout my career in general, I've sat here and there, a little bit more so this year than I have in the past,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve grown to understand.  I’m keeping myself sharp in practice.

“It’s something that, maybe in the years past, maybe I've pouted or been upset. This year, it’s been a focus of mine to make sure, regardless of what’s happening, staying as sharp as I can."

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