Their first defeat in regulation since the season opener against the Sharks on Oct. 8 was not pretty for the Kings on Thursday night at Pittsburgh. A few random thoughts as they don’t have much time to regroup, facing Detroit on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena. The steady stream of Kings to the penalty box was a big part of their undoing at Pittsburgh.
Implications of Slava Voynov’s absence become clearer
You can survive a game or two without a top-four defenseman, and the Kings got by with a couple of comfortable outings at home, against Buffalo and Columbus.
The road, however, is a different, unforgiving story. Jake Muzzin has been erratic, most notably his turnover on the game-winning goal to Brayden Schenn in overtime at Philadelphia.
Another sign: Kings Coach Darryl Sutter has been cutting back the minutes of youngster Brayden McNabb, and said on Wednesday, tellingly: “Brayden has to learn how to play in the NHL.”
A day later, McNabb played just 8 minutes, 16 seconds at Pittsburgh, a season low in ice time, and a far cry from his season-high 23:27 against the Sharks in the opener.
Adjustment Bureau on the back line
Not only are the likes of defenseman Drew Doughty and Robyn Regehr playing bigger minutes, the learning curve continues. With Voynov out, Alec Martinez moved to the right side and has been paired with Regehr.
Martinez is adjusting, too.
“As a hockey player, you’ve got to be able to play both sides throughout the year,” Martinez said. “It’s no different than last year. Or the year prior, or next year.
“Things are going to happen. I pride myself on being able to play both sides. Robyn’s been awesome. He’s a great player. He’s really easy to play with. He’s helped me both on and off the ice.”
Notably, the Kings’ defensemen have yet score a goal this season.
Martinez was asked how frustrating that has been.
“I touched on it on some of the power–play stuff, but obviously it applies to five-on-five too. We’ve got to get more shots through,” he said. “The D [defense], we’ve got to contribute offensively too and start scoring some goals.
“It’s something we’ve talked about. You’ve just got to keep shooting the puck.”