It looks like Alec Martinez will be back in the Kings' lineup for Game… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Based on the configuration of the Kings' lines and defense pairs at the team's morning skate Monday at Staples Center, it’s likely their lineup for Game 4 of their opening-round series against the St. Louis Blues will be the same as it was for Game 3.
That means Coach Darryl Sutter would again dress seven defensemen to get Alec Martinez into the lineup and would give little ice time to the fourth line. In Game 3, he scratched Jordan Nolan from the lineup and gave extra shifts on the fourth line to Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and Jeff Carter.
Sutter played Martinez on Saturday for the first time since April 2, and Martinez contributed an assist to the 1-0 victory that cut the Blues’ series lead to 2-1.
Defenseman Matt Greene did not participate in the Kings’ morning skate, and it’s expected that he won’t play for a while. He suffered a lower-body injury that kept him out of the season finale and the first three playoff games.
Adding Martinez on Saturday cut several players’ ice time. Jake Muzzin went from 14 minutes, 25 seconds in Game 2 to 12:19 in Game 3; Rob Scuderi went from 22:02 in Game 2 to 19:39 in Game 3; Drew Doughty went from 29:45 to 27:05, Robyn Regehr from 20:56 to 19:49, and Slava Voynov from 21:14 to 15:22. But Sutter said the decrease in Voynov’s playing time was due to circumstances, not performance.
Scuderi said deploying seven defensemen took some adjusting.
“It’s a coach’s call,” Scuderi said. “At times you can get lost in the shuffle a little bit, especially if you’re trying to match lines, but overall I thought for me personally, I didn’t see much change in my ice time or the way I was used. Maybe for some other guys it might have been tougher to get into but we’re trying to do whatever helps us win a game.”
He also said Martinez had brought some new and welcome elements to the lineup.
“I thought he was really good,” Scuderi said. “He skates the puck incredibly well. He gets up the ice. He’s a secondary option on the rush once we cross the blue line, and he did all those things that he’s done for us the past couple of years.”
One programming note: The Kings and the NHL announced that Game 5 of this series, which will be played on Wednesday at St. Louis’ Scottrade Arena, will start at 6 p.m. Pacific time and will be aired in the Los Angeles area on FS West.
Check back soon for more notes from the morning skates.
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