Vinny Lecavalier couldn’t play for the Philadelphia Flyers, trapped in the two-word abyss known as the “healthy scratch” for close to two months before the Kings life raft came calling.
Similarly, defenseman Rob Scuderi found himself on the outside in Chicago. He cleared waivers and played three games for the Blackhawks’ minor league affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. He wound up back in Los Angeles shortly before the trade deadline.
How can someone go from the IceHogs to playing 20-plus minutes for the Pacific Division leaders?
Perhaps it says more about the Kings accommodating the newcomers, almost seamlessly, than the new guys trying to fit in. Scuderi was with the Kings for four seasons, including the 2012 run to the Stanley Cup, but Lecavalier, defenseman Luke Schenn and Kris Versteeg were all new to Los Angeles and the Kings’ system.
Coach Darryl Sutter even placed left wing Milan Lucic into the mix. Lucic was acquired in the off-season from the Boston Bruins. The others all arrived in trades closer to the deadline.
“For the new guys coming in, it goes back a lot to the guys that have won a lot,” Sutter said. "[Lucic] is the same age as a lot of the guys. He’s familiar with them and it makes the adjustment easier, for sure.”
Center Anze Kopitar also addressed that school of thought after Tuesday’s 5-2 victory over the Stars in Dallas. Scuderi was a plus-three, had two assists and logged nearly 24 minutes of ice time. Lecavalier, playing in his 1,200th NHL game, had an assist and was a plus-one. Versteeg, who scored and had an assist Monday night in Chicago, had another goal against the Stars.
“I think we make guys feel fairly comfortable fairly quick,” Kopitar said. “It’s a quick transition for us. We just try to make it, again, as easy we possibly can on them. Rob’s been here and he’s been gone for a couple of years, but nothing has really changed since he left.
“Vinny and [Schenn] and Kris came in and they all embraced the roles. In that regard, it’s lot easier for us to make them feel comfortable right away. They’re all in and they know and realize what they’re here for.”
Sutter noted that Lecavalier responded Tuesday with a strong shift after a rough one. Something such as that doesn’t escape notice up and down the lineup.
“This team has got some high standards,” Lecavalier said. “We keep each other accountable, so you want to do well. When you make a mistake, you want to come back the next shift and be better.
“That’s why this team has been so successful. They push each other.”
KINGS NEXT UP
VS. N.Y. RANGERS
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.
Update: With backup goalie Antti Raanta getting the start against the Ducks on Wednesday, expect to see Henrik Lundqvist in goal against the Kings. Lundqvist has 31 wins this season, including four shutouts. Kopitar had a hat trick against Raanta on Feb. 12 in the Kings’ 5-4 overtime victory over the Rangers in New York.