Both the Kings and the New York Rangers appear poised to change their mix on defense for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, to be played Saturday at Staples Center.
The Kings won the opener, 3-2, on Wednesday on Justin Williams’ goal four minutes and 36 seconds into overtime. Puck drop for Game 2 is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Pacific time.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said Friday that defenseman Robyn Regehr “will probably play” in Game 2, but Sutter did not specify whose spot Regehr might take. Best guess is Matt Greene, who was a healthy scratch for five of seven first-round games against San Jose and for Game 1 of the Western Conference final against Chicago. Greene is averaging 13 minutes and 51 seconds of ice time per game during the playoffs and played the fewest minutes of the Kings’ defensemen in Game 1 of the Final, 16:48.
Regehr hasn’t played since May 3, when he sustained a knee injury during the opener of the Kings’ second-round series against the Ducks. Neither he nor Greene is exactly a speedster, but Greene often has struggled to keep up with swift opponents. However, he was outstanding in the Kings’ Western Conference clincher against Chicago, contributing six hits, one block and two assists while compiling a +3 defensive rating.
For the Rangers, John Moore is expected to rejoin the lineup Saturday after serving a two-game, league-imposed suspension for delivering a hit to the head of Montreal’s Dale Weise in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final, which the Rangers won in six games.
Raphael Diaz, whose 10:15 in Game 1 was the least ice time among the Rangers’ defensemen, is likely to sit in order to make way for Moore.
The Kings practiced at their El Segundo facility on Friday, while the Rangers skated at Staples Center. The Kings’ lines were the same as in Game 1: Marian Gaborik-Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown; Tanner Pearson-Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli; Dwight King-Jarret Stoll-Justin Williams; Kyle Clifford-Mike Richards-Trevor Lewis. The defense pairs were Jake Muzzin-Drew Doughty; Willie Mitchell-Slava Voynov, and Alec Martinez-Greene. Regehr practiced in tandem with Jeff Schultz.
We’ll have more later from both teams.