Every so often, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter will veer off message and drop a bit of significant injury information.
Sunday was not that day.
After all, it is the playoffs and the Kings took the opening game against the Ducks in the second round on Saturday night. It’s almost a dance: You have to judge Sutter’s body language on a daily basis and listen closely to the audio. No one is playing Sutter’s words backward, just yet.
“I’m not talking anything about injuries, ever,” Sutter said. “It’s not something you should have to talk about publicly, it’s to protect the player and not give the other team the advantage.
“They [the Ducks] are so smart they don’t even announce their goalie until after warmup.”
This was regarding the latest injury to hit the decimated Kings’ defensive corps. Robyn Regehr was injured in the first period Saturday, apparently from a hit by the Ducks’ Teemu Selanne, and did not return.
It was an indication that the issue was serious because of his legendary toughness and ability to play through incredible pain. Regehr played with, among other things, an infected elbow in the Kings’ series against Chicago last year.
Barring a last-minute change of plans, Jeff Schultz will take Regehr’s spot in the lineup for Game 2. Schultz last appeared in the playoffs in 2011-12 with the Washington Capitals. Most of his Capitals’ career was under the guidance of Bruce Boudreau, the current Ducks coach.
Schultz has 29 games of playoff experience, a fact not lost on Sutter.
“I had a little chat with him this morning and he [Sutter] said, ‘Just go out there and play,’ ” Schultz said. “It’s hard to replace a guy like Robyn. But I feel like I’m capable of doing a similar job of what he can do.”
Schultz, who spent the season with the Kings’ American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., was brought up last week for insurance after defenseman Willie Mitchell went out with a lower-body injury in Game 6 of the series with the San Jose Sharks.
In 2012, the Kings’ run to the Stanley Cup was marked by the fact they were able to stick with the same six defensemen throughout. Now, Mitchell was knocked out in Round 1, and Regehr in Round 2.
The development meant a sizable media contingent waited for Schultz at the Kings’ practice facility in El Segundo. Schultz, who is 6 feet 6, looked surprised by the cameras.
“I didn’t see what happened on the play,” Schultz said. “I was watching the game in the dressing room, you saw him come in. You wonder. You hope he’s not injured too bad because he’s such a big part of this team. Unfortunately what happened, happened. We have to look forward and come out hard tomorrow.”
The Kings were without Mitchell (knee surgeries) all of last season and Matt Greene missed almost all of the regular season because of back surgery.
“We’ve dealt with it,” Sutter said. “Injuries are a big part of it. If you use it as an excuse, and I’ve heard it used as an excuse, it’s just another reason to take the wrong road.”
The Kings had some fun analyzing the kick save defenseman Alec Martinez made on Ducks star Corey Perry early in overtime. Martinez joked that he channeled his “inner goalie playing in the driveway when I was younger.”
“Actually, Darryl gave me a hard time,” Martinez said, looking amused. “He said that my rebound control wasn’t very good. I told Billy Ranford, our goalie coach, that we should probably go over it today.
“Darryl told me I either have to kick the rebound out wide, not up the middle, or at least cover it and get a whistle. I guess I’ll work on that next time.”
Said right wing Justin Williams: “I especially liked it because it was partly my fault he had to make that save in the first place. It was obviously a game-saver. You could be down 1-0, instead you’re up one.”