Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, in a certain mood, has a way of directing the course of a conversation, a lot like a traffic cop.
He sends it exactly where he wants it to go.
There can be a bit of news, a wry observation or even a teachable moment. With the Kings preparing for their two-game trip, to St. Louis on Saturday and Chicago on Sunday, Sutter revealed that winger Teddy Purcell had been “banged up” at the end of training camp and then got sick.
Which might explain why Purcell did not have a shot on goal in his first two games this season. Since then, he has been an odd man out. Left wing Tanner Pearson (suspension) returned after missing the first two games and center Nic Dowd has played the last five games, recording one goal and three assists.
“We’re in a division where you are going to have to fight like hell to make the playoffs,” Sutter said Friday. “This is a little bit new for us in terms of staying competitive with the injuries. We have to evaluate this on a game-by-game thing.”
Sutter won’t hesitate to make changes if production drops off. Jordan Nolan’s play dipped after a good training camp and he came out of the lineup after the loss at Minnesota on Oct. 18.
“His game fell off when we went on the road trip last time, so somebody else went in,” Sutter said. “Somebody else went in and played good. We took [Kyle Clifford] out. He went [back] in and played good. You take advantage of your situation.”
All the extra minutes from playing overtime — four consecutive overtime wins with one requiring a shootout — took a toll. The Kings had off-ice training Friday. Sutter noted that Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, who had the overtime goal in the win over Nashville on Thursday, looked tired against the Predators.
Not so with defenseman Drew Doughty.
“I thought he was awesome,” Sutter said. “I think he really carried our team last night.”
They’ve been finding creative ways to prevail when the game goes beyond regulation.
“It just shows we’re sticking together and finding a way to win games and coming back,” said Kings forward Tyler Toffoli. “You want to be able to keep the lead. A couple times there we lost it. But being able to show we can come back and stay together and score the big goals at the right time is what we’re looking for as a group.”
AT ST. LOUIS
When: Saturday, 5 p.m. PDT.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.
Etc.: The Blues announced Friday that they will be retiring Bobby Plager’s No. 5 on Feb. 2. Plager, 73, is a beloved figure in St. Louis, in fact, a member of the original 1967-68 Blues team. With the Blues struggling offensively, of late, some tweaks to the lines are anticipated. Goalie Jake Allen (3-1-1, 2.39 goals-against average) is expected to start.