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Bernie Nicholls helping Kings again ... as an unofficial coach

January 21, 2012 |  1:44 pm

Bernie-nicholls_300The Kings’ lineup for Saturday’s game at Staples Center against the Colorado Avalanche will be the same as it has been recently, Coach Darryl Sutter said, which means defensemen Alec Martinez and Davis Drewiske and forward Kevin Westgarth will be scratched.

There was something else familiar about the Kings’ lineup on the ice for their morning skate Saturday at El Segundo: former Kings standout Bernie Nicholls, invited by Sutter several weeks ago to work with the team, was on the ice again to work with players. “Quite honestly, I enjoy having Bernie around,” Sutter said.

Nicholls, who accompanied the Kings on their trip to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver last week, seems to have settled into an unofficial role as a power-play consultant and intermediary between the coach and the players. Sutter credited him with boosting the lagging power play over the eight games before Saturday’s encounter with Colorado — the Kings were six for 30 with the man advantage during that span — and said Nicholls is welcome to stay as long as he wants.

“You can’t have enough good experience or communication with these guys,” Sutter said. “I think that’s something we need. With a real young team you need more individual stuff. I believe that.”

Sutter said the power play had improved by about 2% and the team’s total of goals scored at home had increased slightly too. “Half a goal. You get another half a goal a game and maybe it’s just something that he’s talked to one kid about that can help,” Sutter said. “That’s all we’re trying to do.

“Originally he wasn’t going to come on that last trip. I said, ‘You know, you’ve got to see some of these guys on the road because they’re different home and away.’”

Sutter also said he would discuss Nicholls’ future duties next week, when the All-Star break and a scheduling quirk will give the Kings eight days between games.

“I’ll talk to him once the break starts,” Sutter said. “I get caught in the moment always so I’ve got to use the days properly to kind of reset where we’re at.”

Check back later for more coverage at www.latimes.com/sports.

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-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Bernie Nicholls outside his home in Addison, Texas. Credit: Amy Gutierrez / For The Times

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