Kings’ Williams expects ‘dirtier’ play from top players


After four up-and-down games, the Los Angeles Kings expect more from Anze Kopitar and their top line, so winger Justin Williams suggests that they add a little sandpaper.

“I’ve talked to Kopi [about] our 5-on-5 play, and we’re just going to get a little bit dirtier,” Williams said to LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen on Friday. “Play ourselves like grinders.”

(Hope you already had lunch today.)

The Kings are set to face Williams’ former team (/ex-girlfriends?) the Carolina Hurricanes tonight.

Kopitar’s four assists aren’t anything to sneeze at, but perhaps he’ll need to “get to the dirty areas” to score his first goal of the 2013-14 campaign (he’s 0 for 10 shots so far). Kopitar, Dustin Brown (two goals) and Williams (one goal) have fewer goals than Jeff Carter’s team-leading four, and only seven Kings have found the net, so it’s obvious that L.A. leans heavily on its top-six forwards.

Williams isn’t the only person asking for more elbow grease from talented players.

Slava slacking off?

Head coach Darryl Sutter was critical of defenseman Slava Voynov’s offseason efforts.

“He could’ve done more work this summer, and he’s going to have to do some more work to get his minutes back,” Sutter said.

Voynov, 23, is indeed averaging less ice time this season (20:11 per game) than in 2013 (22:18), something that was especially evident when he received less than 17 minutes of time against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. It’s tough to argue with Sutter when you look at Voynov’s numbers: zero goals, one assist, just five shots on goal and a -2 rating in four contests.

Simply put, the Kings need consistent production from Voynov after signing him to a hefty contract extension.

No one’s really bashing Jonathan Quick’s work just yet, but the Kings could definitely use some steadier play from their franchise goalie, too.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?