Anger pours over for Kings
Reporting From Toronto — The Kings are all talked out after rehashing their 8-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings moments after the game, while the stench was fresh, and again before they practiced Sunday.
They hope venting their frustrations will free them to have a better performance Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs in interim Coach John Stevens’ finale before Darryl Sutter takes the reins.
Center Anze Kopitar said alternate captain Matt Greene led the outpouring of anger Saturday.
“He stepped up and said a couple words. ‘We can’t do this anymore,’ ” Kopitar said. “He started talking and everybody listened. Everybody cares and understands that this is not the way to go.”
Kopitar said rage was the dominant emotion.
“I think everybody felt ashamed, too. At least I did,” he said.
Stevens chose a different theme, saying the Kings should be able to match the Red Wings’ diligence if they can’t match Detroit’s pure skills.
“Even though they’re a talented team they don’t step on the ice and just try to out-skill you. They’re pretty determined to outwork you and I think that’s something we have to learn from,” Stevens said Sunday. “I thought the focus today in practice was excellent. I thought the guys worked hard, picked up the tempo, got to the net, did the things that we asked them to do….
“I really look at this road trip as an opportunity to go 2-2 under some pretty tough circumstances and I thought the guys were pretty professional about their approach.”
Willie Mitchell is ready to return
Defenseman Willie Mitchell, who sat out six of the last seven games because of a groin injury, said he’s ready to return Monday. He was paired with Jack Johnson in practice, leaving Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov as the likely spares.
Mitchell said he enjoyed Sunday’s taxing workout.
“Those are the practices we need if we’re going to get out of this,” he said. “It was up-tempo, forwards were buzzing and going to the net hard. It pushes the limits of defensemen when you practice like that.
“It’s a cliche but it’s true. You need good practice habits to play well in games and I don’t think our practices have been the best around here.”
Center Mike Richards, out since he suffered a head injury Dec. 1, practiced with the team for the second straight day. However, he spent part of it in a red, no-contact jersey and won’t play Monday.
“I thought he looked really good today from a conditioning standpoint,” Stevens said. “He had good jump, made a lot of plays, and it’s encouraging.”
Jonathan Quick to start Monday
Goaltender Jonathan Quick, replaced by Jonathan Bernier on Saturday after giving up three goals in the first 8 minutes 32 seconds, will start Monday.
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.