EL SEGUNDO, CA — Just one day before the first of their final two pre-season games this weekend in Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Kings are still trying to get everything together for the fast-approaching 2013-14 National Hockey League regular season, which is just one week away.
To illustrate, despite the fact that he looked like he was in mid-season form, especially during the first period of a 2-1 pre-season win over the Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center on September 24, goaltender Jonathan Quick indicated that there is still work ahead.
“There’s definitely work to be done, for myself, and for the team, in general,” said Quick. “Everyone has stuff to work on, stuff to get better [at]. We’re definitely going at it in practice with the right attitude, and trying to get the most out of practice.”
At this point during an NHL team training camp, players often just want to get the regular season going. But Quick acknowledged the importance of pre-season games.
“It’s an important process,” he stressed. “At times, you just want to get the season going, but it’s important to know that the [pre-season] games you’re playing now are going to help you down the road.”
“You see tons of pucks during practice, but it’s different when you get out there [during a game],” he added. “It’s a little different. You can’t get game experience any other way than playing in a game.”
“[In terms of your] overall game, there’s a lot of things, whether it’s your timing, or reading plays, those are things where you need that game experience to pick it up, and feel 100 percent comfortable.”
Frattin Still Getting Comfortable On Left Wing
One of the question marks heading into the new season is who will play on left wing on the Kings’ second line with right wing Jeff Carter and center Mike Richards.
To this point, forward Matt Frattin, who was acquired during the summer from the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the trade that sent goaltender Jonathan Bernier to Toronto, appears to be the front-runner.
“I played about twenty games on the left side in Toronto, but so far, I’ve just got to work more on end zone stuff, and receiving passes on my backhand,” said Frattin. “Those are two key things I try to work on.”
“I’m probably going to playing on the left side all year, so I’ve got to get used to it, and just keep working on it in practice,” added Frattin, who also indicated that he seems to be blending in well with Carter and Richards.
“We’ve had glimpses of good chemistry and plays that we’re making, but we’ve still got to work on it a lot more,” he noted.
Coming from the Maple Leafs, Frattin is working hard on learning the system that the Kings play
“I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it,” he indicated. “We’re [going over systems] a lot of it in practice, and with video. It’s pretty repetitive, so I’ve pretty [much] caught on already.”
Frattin took note of the differences between the systems of his old and new teams.
“There’s a couple of things,” he noted. “We’re not posting up on the wall. We’re coming back, and coming up, as a group. That’s one of the biggest differences. Positionally, controlled breakouts and controlled forechecks are a bit different. But that’s pretty easy to catch onto.”
“I just have to try to keep learning the systems, keep working, and try to get ready for the regular season,” he added.
Muzzin Could Return In Las Vegas
Defenseman Jake Muzzin has been held out of recent training camp practice sessions, as well as the September 24 pre-seasongame against Anaheim, due to what has been referred to as a minor knee injury.
Muzzin said that he hurt himself trying to hold a puck in the attacking zone during a practice session.
“I did it to myself, trying to keep a puck in at the blue line,” said Muzzin. “It just popped funny. It’s all good, though. I just tweaked it funny. It was kind of an awkward play, but it’s fine. Feels good. Tt’s nothing serious—nothing to be worried about.”
“I bent down funny to keep a puck in, and felt a weird pop,” added Muzzin. “But it wasn’t as serious as I first thought. Good news. I kind of tweaked it last year, during the playoffs, too. Same knee, so I just wanted to make sure everything was good.”
Muzzin skated by himself following the team’s practice session on September 25.
“[I skated for] probably ten minutes, just to feel how it is,” he said. “It felt good.”
Muzzin reported no issues after the quick skate.
“Both knees are now braced up, so we’re good to go,” said Muzzin.
Although Muzzin said he was “good to go,” the final arbiter on that question will be his head coach.
“He’ll skate today, skate tomorrow, and we’ll go from there,” said head coach Darryl Sutter. “We’ll just see. He’s played three games. I’m not going to push it.”
Brown’s Status Still Murky
Forward Dustin Brown, who suffered a pulled hamstring on the first day of training camp, skated with the team for the first time on September 25, but he left the ice quickly when practice ended, and bolted from the team’s practice facility as soon as he could.
The reason? His wife, Nicole, was expected to give birth to their fourth child.
“His wife went in [to the hospital] at 6:30 this morning,” Sutter noted.
As for the injury, it is no longer an issue.
“He really doesn’t feel it,” said Sutter. “It’s not bothering him at all.”
But Brown lost ten days of training camp, putting him behind the eight-ball.
“It’s not so much [the injury],” Sutter indicated. “It’s that he hasn’t had any contact.”
How will that impact whether or not he plays during this weekend’s final two pre-season games in Las Vegas?
“For sure, not Friday,” said Sutter. “No chance. We’ll just see how he does the next two days. He feels good. We’ll keep moving forward.”
Raw Audio Interviews
(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):
Jonathan Quick (2:14)
Matt Frattin (1:40)
Jake Muzzin (1:57)
Darryl Sutter (1:34)
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