Kings center Jeff Carter celebrates a goal with defenseman Drew Doughty… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)
With the Kings halfway through a stretch of four games in seven days, Friday's morning skate was optional for most of the regulars.
"Busy schedule," Coach Darryl Sutter explained.
Among those who didn't suit up was center Jeff Carter, whose fatigue was understandable. The night before, in the Kings' 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins, Carter skated more than 20 minutes, took a game-high 10 shots and scored a goal, his team-best 16th of the season.
So it fell to teammate Drew Doughty — who grew up around the corner from Carter in London, Ontario — to put Carter's recent hot play in perspective.
"You just ride it for as long as you can. That's just how hockey works in points and goals," Doughty said of Carter, who has nine goals and seven assists in his last 14 games. "Guys get hot and then get cold. And obviously he's hot right now."
One thing that has set Carter aflame was Sutter's decision to put him on a line with Anze Kopitar last month, shortly after Carter came back from a broken foot.
"Kopitar is one of the top 10 playmakers in the NHL, clearly. If you get to play with Kopitar, you're going to get shots and scoring chances," Sutter said.
"Anybody who plays with Kopi is usually going to get hot at some point," he said. "He's been everything for us. He's been scoring important goals, he's been making plays. We need him to continue to do that to be successful."
It's unlikely anyone in the Kings' dressing room feels better about Carter's success than Doughty, considering he's the one responsible for breaking Carter's foot and sending him to the sidelines for 10 games.
"I took a slap shot and hit him," Doughty said sheepishly.
The two will be teammates again next month in Sochi since both were named to the Canadian Olympic team. In his first Olympics four years ago, Doughty said he knew no one on the Canadian team. This time he's going with a boyhood neighbor.
"I'm happy to be there with him," Doughty said. "Our families know each other back home. We grew up five minutes from each other. So I've known him since I was 7 years old.
"You never would think that two guys growing up five minutes from each other would be on the same team. It's special I think."
On the air: TV: Fox Sports West; Radio: 1150.
Etc.: The Red Wings have struggled at home but after splitting the first two games on their current four-game trip, they have the best road record in the Eastern Conference (13-5-3). The Kings are playing the fourth of five in a row at home, where they've lost just once in regulation since November.