Nick Shore and Trevor Lewis, unleashed?
That’s probably a leap to think of the Kings’ depth forwards that way. For years under former coach Darryl Sutter, the two were defensive pluggers, the kind of player that Sutter relished in a system that didn’t encourage creativity.
They seemed like relics from the Sutter era when the Kings talked of transitioning to a more modern offense over the summer. Through 13 games, however, the approach under John Stevens has allowed their former identities to surface.
Shore’s pretty assist to linemate Lewis was a highlight of Thursday’s win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. His three points in 10 games constitute an uptick. Lewis has shown flashes from his younger self and already has four goals, or one-third of his 12 from last season.
“I think we’ve really put a focus on scoring more and offensive zone play,” Lewis said. “Obviously the new system we’re playing, I think starting off with Shoresy and [Kyle Clifford], we grasped it right away. I think that helps and it helps create more.”
Lewis was a 75-point player in junior hockey and a 20-goal scorer in his last full season in the minors. Stevens and the Kings would like him to tap into that, using his defense to feed his offense.
“We think he can score,” Stevens said. “We want him to try and score. We want him to be a real sound guy. He’s primary guy on the penalty kill, but we don’t see any reason he can’t get pucks stopped up in the offensive zone, create stuff on the rush, challenge defensemen wide. We believe he can score, so I’m glad to see him get rewarded for his work.”
Shore also has a resume that shows offensive prowess. He was nearly a point-per-game player at the University of Denver and also a 20-goal producer, in 38 games, in his last season in the minors. That role shifted to a more conservative one under Sutter, and Shore understood.
“When you come in, you’re asked to play a certain way,” Shore said. “That never really stops. You’ve always got to be responsible. But I kind of [get] to work on [the] offensive game.”
Asked if it’s more fun, Shore said, “It’s always fun when the puck goes in the net.”
Penalty shot rarity
Toronto’s Auston Matthews became the fourth player in NHL history to take two penalty shots in one game Thursday. Stevens said he had never seen that at any level of his hockey career, let alone by one of the best players in the game.
“I don’t know if I ever care to see Auston Matthews in two penalty shots,” Stevens said.
Matthews converted the first one but missed wide on the second.
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
On the air: TV — FS West; Radio — 790
Update: This is the second straight game the Kings will face an opponent playing on consecutive nights, but Nashville still boasts a mobile defense led by P.K. Subban and Roman Josi. “Maybe the best skating defense in the league,” Stevens said. “They skate pucks out of trouble probably better than any team in the league.” The Kings swept the three-game series last season, with two overtime wins.