Kings seek to correct road woes in Game 4
Flawless at home and flawed on the road?
But the Kings already have lost three times on the road during these playoffs; they dropped just one road game through four rounds on their way to the Stanley Cup last year.
“We can’t rest and be comfortable with just being a great home team,” said Kings winger Justin Williams on Monday. “We need to be killers on the road.”
Game 4 is on Tuesday night at San Jose. The Kings, leading the series two games to one, practiced at El Segundo on Monday before flying back to the Bay Area. It appears as though left wing Kyle Clifford, out with an upper-body injury since late in the first round, could rejoin the lineup. He skated on a line with Colin Fraser and Brad Richardson.
“It [stinks] being out, but what’s done is done and we’re just looking forward,” Clifford said. “My role is to just provide energy and just chip in when I can.”
Said Fraser: “Cliffy’s obviously a physical presence. First and foremost, he’s an energy guy. He’s got lots of life and he’s a guy that plays hard every shift. So we’re happy to have him back. He’ll give us an emotional lift on the physical side and on the energy side of things.”
But that’s a relatively minor move. What the Kings need is more production from their top line of captain Dustin Brown, center Anze Kopitar and Williams. They have combined for one goal, by Brown on the power play, in the first three games against the Sharks.
“It’s going to take our best players – myself at the top of the list – to get more offense,” said Williams, who had two goals and three points in the first round. “It’s plain and simple: Your guys who produce during the year need to produce just as much, if not more during the playoffs.
“Whether that be creating momentum or creating goal-scoring opportunities or actually putting the puck in the net, which we need to do a lot more. We need to be better at it.”
Williams addressed their power-play issues.
“You might not get a lot of opportunities, but when you do you need to create something … getting the goalie a little uncomfortable,” he said. “Something needs to go your way when you have a two-minute man advantage.
“We need to do a lot more to create penalties. I don’t think we’ve had enough. I don’t think we’ve gone to the net enough, and gotten calls [going] our way.”
Clearly, the Kings have been unable to rattle Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. Any frustrated goalie isn’t exactly difficult to spot.
“You can see when he looks at his defensemen. When he smashes his stick down,” Williams said. “Just like any other player on the ice. You can sometimes tell when you’re frustrated. You definitely don’t want to give that away.
“We haven’t seen much of that from Niemi. So that’s our problem.”
Brown, Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks are the three finalists for this year’s Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, which was announced on Monday.
The league release cited Brown’s many charitable initiatives in the community.
“It’s a honor to be nominated,” Brown said. “It’s not something you go out and look for, I guess. To be among Toews and Alfredsson and that group is special.”
Leave it to Kings Coach Darryl Sutter to put his own twist on the team’s travel plans. With the two-day break between games 3 and 4, Sutter acknowledged the importance of getting to practice and receive treatment in their own facility. Then there was the boredom factor, apparently.
“What are we going to do up there for two days?” he said, of San Jose. “If we had all stayed up there for two days, we’d have been bored, last night and today, right? Because you’re basically sitting around a hotel with nothing to do.”
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