Alec Martinez’s return to Kings lineup not imminent

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez in a game against the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 11.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

It was impossible to tell from the Kings’ morning skate whether struggling left wing Tanner Pearson will stay in the lineup against Carolina or be scratched from Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes at Staples Center, but one thing was clear: Defenseman Alec Martinez will remain out because his surgically repaired left pinky finger hasn’t fully healed.

Martinez, who was injured last Thursday while blocking a shot, skated alone, after his teammates had gone through their morning skate. Afterward, Coach Darryl Sutter said the one-week recovery period that was initially projected for Martinez by General Manager Dean Lombardi was too optimistic.

“We’ve just got to wait for the wound to heal and that’s going to take some time. It’s got to heal,” Sutter said.

“They nearly cut his finger off. So I don’t think he can play in a week .... Your fingers do have a pulse in them and it does hurt. And Marty’s tough. We’ve seen him play lots, not with little-finger injuries but with big injuries. It’s painful.


“Put the glove in there and sweat in there and you’ve got to be careful. You could start losing ground to an infection. We miss him a lot but he can’t play at 20%.”

The Kings have had to reconfigure their defense without Martinez and without Slava Voynov, who remains suspended by the NHL and now faces a felony domestic violence charge stemming from an incident involving his wife last month. Voynov has been allowed to skate at the Kings’ El Segundo practice facility but with a coach, not with his teammates. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced the charge Thursday.

In the meantime, defenseman Drew Doughty’s ice time has skyrocketed to an average of 28 minutes and 56 seconds per game, second in the NHL only to the 29:13 averaged by Minnesota’s Ryan Suter.

The Kings don’t want Doughty to be playing so much, but they have few options. Sutter wore an exasperated look when asked if he was concerned about Doughty’s minutes.

“What am I going to do about it? Say yes? And not play him that much and lose?” Sutter said. “There’s not much you can do about it. Is it a good number? No it’s not. It doesn’t help Drew and it doesn’t help us.”

The fact that Doughty likes playing a lot doesn’t carry much weight with Sutter.

“How old is Drew, 24?” Sutter said, correctly. “I’d rather he was working on his whole game than trying to play the whole game. When you play that much you’re not as effective.”

Pearson, who is 0-for-November after a seven-goal, nine-point performance made him the NHL rookie of the month in October, has seen his minutes reduced lately. Sutter, however, wouldn’t say what was wrong with Pearson’s game, if anything.

“It’s not that big a deal. He may be successful now, too. It’s just that he was a hot topic because he was player of the month and had a hot start,” Sutter said. “We’ll manage his minutes a little bit better and hopefully he plays better. He’s 22 years old. He’s actually been a better player than some of our 32-year-olds.”