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Schedule is now in Kings' favor

KINGS FYI

Darryl Sutter sounds relatively optimistic after L.A. completes a three-game trip with two victories.

February 22, 2013|By Lisa Dillman
  • Coach Darryl Sutter noted that the Kings have played the fewest home games in the league, but that's about to change with an upcoming schedule that features 20 of their final 33 games at home.
Coach Darryl Sutter noted that the Kings have played the fewest home games… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Contrarian Darryl morphed into Complimentary Darryl on Friday morning.

Coach Darryl Sutter was taking a big-picture look at his Kings, a group blessed with a home-heavy schedule after having completed a stiff stretch of heavy lifting on the road, 11 of 15 games away. They play 20 of the final 33 games at home in this lockout-shortened season.

Sutter can deliver critiques with a blend of blunt wit and sarcasm. Shortcomings remain, to be sure, but he offered a dose of perspective.

"We played the fewest home games in the league," Sutter said. "It hasn't really been an easy schedule and I looked at it again. We play three at home and then we go [away] for one. If you break that out again, we're playing three teams we haven't beat yet.

"If you knock out the first two games of the year, we'd be looking pretty good … in the big picture. We've been able to handle everything very well. That's been the best part about our team. I've liked the way they've handled the extra attention that's come with it."

The Kings' three-game trip started poorly and improved after an especially rocky first period in Chicago. The 3-2 loss was followed by 3-1 victories at Edmonton and Calgary.

"The third period in Chicago we woke up and we played a good period," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "Of course, against that team it's not enough. You've got to play 60 minutes. Going into Edmonton it was almost a must-win game for us."

Defense first

Drew Doughty was teased about being a "mentor" to the young Kings defensemen. His defense partner Keaton Ellerby, at 24 a year older than Doughty, got a good laugh.

OK, then, maybe inexperienced instead of young.

"It's fun playing with all the young guys," Doughty said. "It's different. I've been with Scuds [Rob Scuderi] for a while now and things change. You're not going to be with one guy forever. I'm enjoying the role of trying to help them with things and teach them different systems."

Injury update

Call it the club for injured defensemen.

Alec Martinez saw plenty of familiar faces — Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell — in El Segundo when the Kings were on their trip earlier this week.

Martinez suffered an upper-body injury in the first period at St. Louis on Feb. 11 and is on injured reserve. He resumed skating Monday and had another session after the regularly scheduled Kings practice Friday.

General Manager Dean Lombardi had thought Martinez would be out of the lineup for a minimum of two weeks.

"It's getting better every day. It's all you can ask for," Martinez said. "But I've gone through this before so I kinda know the ropes. It's just a matter of putting the time in and letting it heal."

"I did a lot of stuff when the guys were gone. Had a little bit of company with Mitchell and Greener. We pushed each other and had a good week. Hopefully I'll be back soon…. Hopefully not much longer."

Said Sutter: "He's closer, but until he gets contact and skates with the team.… He's pushing for that. We're home for a whole week so at least we get a chance to see him every day. So we'll kind of go from there."

Saturday VS. COLORADO

When: 1 p.m.

Where: Staples Center.

On the Air: TV: FS West; Radio: 1150.

Record vs. Colorado: 0-1-0.

Etc: Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog, out since Jan. 26 because of a concussion, will return to the lineup Saturday against the Kings.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

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