Kings after deadline: Power play moves, Voynov and Hickey earn praise
When they stand around and become predictable, they’re not going to score.
They had more moving parts Wednesday and capitalized on a man advantage for their only goal in a 2-1 shootout loss in a split-squad game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Staples Center.
Mike Richards flicked the puck toward Dustin Brown in front, and the gritty right wing battled for it while it was at his feet. Defenseman Viatcheslav (Slava) Voynov had come deep into the zone and was able to poke it past goalie Justin Pogge at 5:53 of the second period.
“I think from the power play standpoint we need more of that,” Brown said.
He also said that while it’s tough to maintain movement on the power play it’s worth the effort because it confuses opponents’ penalty killers.
“When you have a moving power play with people at the net at the same time it’s pretty tough to defend. You can get mixed up in your assignments,” he said. “Tonight we had good movement. We weren’t stationary. I think looking back at last year we were too stationary. We had their half-wall guy, we had a low guy and we had a net-front guy. That was it.
“I prefer in front of the net but there were a couple of times I’m on the half-wall and just kind of slide out and give it to a guy and go to the net and that creates movement, which is tough for a [penalty killer].”
Brown and Coach Terry Murray had high praise for Voynov and Thomas Hickey, who are vying for a spot on defense and will get good, long looks as long as Drew Doughty is unsigned and not in camp.
“They both understand the situation they’re in. Both those guys have been through a few camps and I think they’re hungry to be here,” Brown said. “Depending on what happens one of them might be here. So I think it’s good to see them have that compete level and be excited to be here because right now there’s a spot to be taken.”
Brown also said that while Doughty’s return would improve the Kings greatly, “if we have to we can battle through it” without him.
Murray said Voynov, an all-star last season with Manchester of the American Hockey League, might have an edge over Hickey.
“Does he have a step on other people because of what he added to his resume last year? Probably so,” Murray said.
Murray said Hickey was “more physical than any other time I’ve seen him. It’s been a while since I’ve really seen him play a game. Faster, got the puck off his stick a little bit faster than what he did in the past. I remember the first year I was here in an exhibition game he’d try to fake three, four, five guys but now he’s moving it faster, and again playing with more of a purpose.”
The Kings will return to practice Thursday at 10 a.m. at El Segundo in two groups instead of three following transactions that cleared 11 players out on Wednesday.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Kings defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov closes in on a loose puck in the crease moments before poking it into the net during the Kings' exhibition loss Wednesday. Credit: Bret Hartman / Associated Press