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.

Video: Mike Fisher ends Nashville’s nasty goal drought

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No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.

Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.

They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.

On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer