Based on the defense pairs the Kings deployed in their morning skate Saturday at Staples Center, it appears they will make a change to their lineup for Game 3 of their opening-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.
Alec Martinez, a puck-moving defenseman who has not played since April 2, was paired with veteran Rob Scuderi in the morning session. The other pairs were Robyn Regehr-Drew Doughty; Jake Muzzin-Slava Voynov, and Matt Greene with Keaton Ellerby.
Greene, who was scratched from the lineup for the first two games, stayed out to skate with the extra players long after the rest of the team had returned to the locker room for a game-day meeting, which means he’s not scheduled to play. If Ellerby were going to play, he wouldn’t have been paired with someone who’s not going to be in the lineup.
The Kings made no changes in their six-man defense corps during their run to the Stanley Cup last spring, but they had a healthy Willie Mitchell and Greene was in top form. Mitchell has missed this entire season, and Greene missed most of the season after undergoing back surgery. He played four games but missed the season finale because of an undisclosed injury.
Greene has said he’s fine, but he hasn’t been able to get back into the lineup. Coach Darryl Sutter has said he hoped Greene could have played more games before the playoffs began in order to get his timing back.
The Kings lost the first two games of this series, each by a 2-1 score. Their defensemen were credited with only nine shots in those games, while the Blues’ defensemen were credited with 24.
Coach Darryl Sutter, often feisty with reporters and especially tart-tongued on game days, wouldn’t confirm whether there will be any changes. That’s standard procedure this time of year. We’ll have more coverage soon, including the Kings’ comments on what they must do in order to win on Saturday and how they hope to draw on energy generated by the home crowd.