Keaton Ellerby, shown with the Florida Panthers in January, made his Kings… (Eliot J. Schechter / NHLI…)
Defenseman Keaton Ellerby grew up in Western Canada and had played his entire NHL career in the Eastern Conference with the Florida Panthers.
Needless to say, an adjustment period will be required for the newest King. Ellerby was traded Friday and made his Kings’ debut on Sunday afternoon in a 3-2 loss at Detroit.
“The Western Conference and the Eastern Conference is just completely different,” he said. “It’s two different leagues, almost. It’s part of the game so you’ve got to get used to it and figure it out as soon as possible.”
Against Detroit, Ellerby was paired with Drew Doughty, who is struggling with a league-worst minus 10. Ellerby’s ice time was 16-plus minutes and, more importantly, he didn’t over-reach.
“I was just trying to play a simple game,” he said. “New systems. New partner. New everything. Tried to play a simple game, physical. I think overall it was all right and still have to get used to some small details.”
Said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter: “You gotta be careful, right. Gotta be careful how you use him. It’s not easy to go from one conference to the next. Not so much team to team because there’s not a drastic change in styles.
“He’s never played in the Western Conference and quite honest guys don’t know each other very well. I think that will be the biggest adjustment for him.”
The Kings wrap up this five-game trip Monday night in St. Louis, and goaltender Jonathan Bernier is expected to get his first start of the season. In fact, it would have been a bigger surprise had he not started since the Kings are playing for the second time in two days.
Also, left wing Dustin Penner will likely return to action, which would be his first since the Ducks beat the Kings, 7-4, at Anaheim on Feb. 2, which was the first game of this trip, technically. Penner has no points in three games and is a minus-two.
Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, who has four points in 10 games, has the team’s best plus-minus rating at plus-four. Defenseman Rob Scuderi is minus-seven, and center Mike Richards is a minus-six. Richards has as many goals as Scuderi – one.
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