Kings still trying to figure out where to place Ilya Kovalchuk


Ilya Kovalchuk has carved out a career firing pucks from the left side of the ice on the power play. In his prime, he was considered as dangerous as Alex Ovechkin.

Double takes were therefore in order when Kovalchuk was stationed in front of the net on one Kings power play Friday, a role that Adrian Kempe is supposed to take over for injured Dustin Brown.

Kovalchuk had a lighthearted explanation.

“We were switching,” Kovalchuk said. “We tried to confuse the other team.”


Kovalchuk was in lots of places in his Kings debut. But he wasn’t at his usual left-point position on a disjointed power play that went zero for five against the San Jose Sharks. The Kings abandoned that four-forward setup they used in preseason, and coach John Stevens said that he’s open to going back to that.

“Maybe do five forwards,” Stevens said. “I don’t know … we’re going to take a real good look at it.”

Special teams usually don’t fall under scrutiny after one game, but it was a big topic considering how poorly the Kings executed it Friday, especially given that Kovalchuk is expected to bring a finishing element. He possesses one of the best shots in NHL history, yet he wasn’t able to display it with Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin at the points.

Kovalchuk did position himself on the left side at times but the Kings never facilitated his patented one-timer. Asked if he prefers the left point or elsewhere, Kovalchuk said, “It’s tough to say. When you go out there, you got to play wherever coach puts you. We tried little different things. It’s always like that.

“You try something different. We’ll see what’s going to happen in the next game, but obviously we’ve got to be much better because {Friday}, I think that was the deciding point.”

The Kings received more than eight minutes of man-advantage time and couldn’t tilt the game. A big concern is getting the unit set up in the opposition zone. Stevens said they didn’t look organized coming up the ice and didn’t “have real good flow in our decision process.”

“Maybe look at some different personnel there,” Stevens said of the units.

Muzzin fell back on the simplistic approach that teams employ with special teams.

“Just shoot, get rebounds, out-man them at the net, instead of trying to make the nice play,” Muzzin said. “There are some new faces and it’s kind of different with Brownie going out … but it’s not an excuse. You should be able to play and read off guys. I think we can be a little quicker, {have} a little better execution.”

Doughty to tie mark

Just by stepping on the ice Sunday, Doughty will tie Anze Kopitar’s franchise record with his 330th consecutive game played. Kopitar set the mark from 2007 to 2011.

Doughty threw a scare into that streak when he went to the dressing room because of a slash to the knee from Timo Meier. But he only missed a few shifts.

“He’s looked after himself,” Muzzin said. “He’s a smart player. He competes hard every night. He’s consistent. He’s there every night playing {hard} and he’s a great competitor for us and we’re lucky to have him.”



When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

On the air: TV: FSW; Radio: iHeartRadio (LA Kings Audio Network)

Update: Detroit has turned to its youth and its opener reflected that with goals by Dennis Cholowski and Tyler Bertuzzi. Former Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier was signed in the offseason but Jimmy Howard might get the start in the first of back-to-back games for the Red Wings.

Twitter: @curtiszupke