Kings Coach Darryl Sutter has been known to spring a surprise or two when it comes to his lineups, but based on Friday’s morning skate at Staples Center it appeared the lineup for Game 6 of the Western Conference final will be the same as it was in the Kings’ 5-4 double overtime loss to the Blackhawks on Wednesday at Chicago.
There was one old/new face on the ice: Defenseman Robyn Regehr, sidelined since he suffered a knee injury in the opener of the Kings’ second-round series against the Ducks, participated in a full morning skate for the first time since he was hurt. He also experienced contact in some drills, again for the first time since the injury, and said he felt fine afterward.
Regehr said he doesn’t think he’s at a level where he can return to the lineup but said he feels better being around the team and practicing with his teammates.
“It’s difficult when you’re injured because you’re on a different schedule and program than a lot of the normal guys, the playing guys,” he said. “So you kind of feel like you’re a little bit of a hobbit sometimes. It’s nice to be back around the guys.”
Regehr said he did some battle drills Friday morning. “Down low, two-on-ones, things like that, but I need more of that,” he said. “I need more one-on-one contact and things like that before I’m ready to roll.”
The Blackhawks, incidentally, did not conduct a morning skate. Coach Joel Quenneville was scheduled to meet with the media at 3:30 p.m. PDT.
The Kings’ main goal Friday is to resist being drawn into a run-and-gun style again, as the Blackhawks did on Wednesday. The Kings also are intent on doing a better job of containing the line of Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane, which contributed a goal and eight assists to the win that prolonged the Blackhawks’ season.
Kane stood out with his four-assist effort. “He had the puck a lot more, which is a little bit related to special teams and a lot related to overtime,” Sutter said.
“But he’s a special player. He doesn’t have bad games. He has good games or great games. Had three or four points, I think, so... Great players are going to do that.”
Defenseman Jake Muzzin said the Kings will have a better chance to succeed if they dictate the style.
“We got exchanging some line rushes with them and that’s not our game, so we’ve got to get back to tightening things up a little bit,” he said.
He also acknowledged the problems the Saad-Shaw-Kane line had caused on Wednesday.
“We’ve got to be a lot better on that line,” Muzzin said. “They had too much time and space with the puck. Especially, you give Kane and Saad room, they’re pretty skilled guys so we have to have some better gaps on them on the rush and play harder on them.”
Muzzin said Kane “does a lot of low swooping and gets the puck at their blue line and comes up. As a whole five guys on the ice we need to be aware and just kind of create a better gap with our forwards angling him away from the middle of the ice.”