Kings coach on centers: ‘They have to be better players’

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The Los Angeles Kings seem like they’re beginning the 2013-14 season like many others: in the middle of the pack. Head coach Darryl Sutter indicated that the middle might be where they need more offense, as he called out centers Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and to some extent Jarret Stoll to LA Kings Insider.

“They’ve got to produce,” Sutter said. “The bottom line is Kopi, Mike and Jarret for that matter are all pretty well-paid guys, and they have to produce. They have to be better players. They have to finish the job.”

Kopitar, 26, hasn’t scored a goal yet, but his eight assists gives him the team’s point lead. It’s not too surprising that Sutter is a little easier on the Slovenian star, fairly mentioning that Kopitar hasn’t been getting much puck luck (26 shots in 10 games).

The bigger problem might be Richards’ play. While the 28-year-old’s defensive game seems on par defensively with his recent efforts, he’s not showing the kind of nose for the net that made him a two-time 30+ goal scorer. He also lacks a single goal this season, yet he’s not firing away like Kopitar, with just 14 shots on goal.

Stoll, 31, seems like an afterthought. While he’s a guy whose faceoff skills and two-way play make him worth having around, you’d still like to see more than (you guessed it) zero goals and two assists.

Sutter didn’t just critique the centers – he said captain Dustin Brown isn’t looking especially sharp, and anyone can see that Jonathan Quick hasn’t been at his best – so the Kings generally need more from their best players. Really, when you look at the numbers, 6-4-0 seems pretty appropriate so far for Los Angeles.