The combinations were all over the place at practice and Kings players said not to read into it. So we'll have to wait until the puck drops Tuesday night to see what exactly Sutter has in store, with his team down 2-0 in the first-round playoff series.
Checking center Colin Fraser was called up from the Kings' AHL affiliate in Manchester, although it's not clear if he'll dress for Game 3. I would probably bet on the Kings returning to a traditional lineup of six defensemen and 12 forwards.
Sutter admitted one matchup that does worry him is whether the Sharks have Joe Pavelski on the top line with Joe Thornton, or whether Pavelski will be in the third-line center spot, where he played two-thirds of Game 2.
"They've got a lot of ammo over there and if they move it around, it puts more pressure on other guys" in the Kings' lineup, Sutter said.
Pavelski was back up on Thornton's line at the Sharks’ morning skate Tuesday, while Tomas Hertl returned to the third line. The game might start that way, but you have to believe Pavelski will find his way back to third-line center at some point during the game Tuesday night, given his faceoff prowess.
"He’s there now, we’ll use him there now," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Pavelski skating on the top line Tuesday morning.
It’s the playoffs. There’s gamesmanship.
Regardless of the Kings' lineup, star defenseman Drew Doughty says it's time to get back to the way his team is supposed to play. Doughty can't believe how many chances and odd-man breaks his team allowed in the opening two games in San Jose.
"We'd go probably 10 games during the regular season without giving up a breakaway, unless we were playing Chicago," Doughty said after the morning skate. "They’re the only team that got breakaways against us. And this series, there's just been a bunch of breakaways. We need to clean it up."
Back to Kings hockey now, Doughty said.
"We have to just put the first two games behind us, obviously learn what we did wrong, but that’s not the way the L.A. Kings play,” said Doughty. "I think everyone in the whole world knows that's not how the L.A. Kings play. It’s just about time we need our leaders to step up, we need to lead the way, and we need everyone to follow. We need to come together as the team we know we can be. We need to win these next two games."
Doughty said, with all due respect to the Sharks, that the two lopsided games in San Jose were mostly about what the kinds didn't do.
"I think it's all on us," Doughty said. "The first game we just weren't prepared to play, that's us. They were prepared, they came out hard and dominated the first period. Last game, we were better prepared, but we didn't hold onto our lead. We started sitting back a little too much. We let their fourth-line guys take over the game. That should never happen.
"It's all on us. They're playing well, I’m not saying they’re not, all their players are doing a good job. But our players aren’t, and that’s the reason we’re losing."
Sharks lines Tuesday morning at the skate:
(Martin Havlat did take the odd line rush instead of Brown on the fourth line, but he still not expected to play.)