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Injuries push Kings' Martinez into the spotlight

Sunday, 05.04.2014 / 6:04 PM

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer / Ducks-Kings series blog

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Injuries push Kings' Martinez into the spotlight

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez had a big game in a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round series with the Anaheim Ducks. He opened the scoring on the power play and stopped Ducks star Corey Perry from scoring the overtime winner when he blocked an attempt at the open net with goaltender Jonathan Quick out of position.

Impressive as the game-changing block was, Martinez only earned so much praise from Kings coach Darryl Sutter.

"Actually, he gave me a hard time. He said that my rebound control wasn't very good," Martinez said. "Darryl told me I either have to kick the rebound out wide, not up the middle, or at least cover it and get a whistle. I guess I'll work on that next time."

Martinez also logged more than 28 minutes of ice time because veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr left the game midway through the first period with an undisclosed injury. That total surpassed Martinez's career high by more than four minutes.

"All of five of us played a lot more, maybe with the exception of [Drew] Doughty," Martinez said. "I felt like we did a good job having a five-man rotation. I think it's important in situations like that to keep it simple, keep your shifts short and just make simple, hard plays."

The Kings are already without veteran Willie Mitchell, who has missed the past two games. Sutter was tight-lipped about Regehr's availability moving forward, but if he cannot play in Game 2 the Kings will be without their two most experienced defenseman.

"You can't replace one guy like that if he's not ready to go," Martinez said. "It's got to be a collaborative effort. I think everyone needs to elevate their game. This is playoff hockey. You have to do that anyway if you want to win."

Matt Greene replaced Mitchell in the lineup and Jeff Schultz will likely be called upon if Regher can't play in Game 2 on Monday at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Schultz spent the season with Manchester of the American Hockey League, but he did play 399 career regular-season games with the Washington Capitals as well as 29 in the postseason. Andrew Campbell and Brayden McNabb were called up from the AHL on Sunday and could also figure into the Kings' plans.

"It's an exciting time. I worked hard all year," Schultz said. "Didn't think this day was going to come, but I have an opportunity to help the team win. I will go out there and do my best."

Martinez should probably expect to continue seeing a healthy dose of ice time. The Kings will probably lean heavily on Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov and Martinez with two days off before Game 3 on Thursday at Staples Center.

The Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012 using the same six defensemen in every game, but that was an extreme exception. L.A.'s organizational depth is now being tested at the most important time.

"I had a little chat with [Sutter] this morning and he said, 'Just go out there and play,'" Schultz said. "It's hard to replace a guy like Robyn, but I feel like I'm capable of doing a similar job of what he can do."

Quote of the Day

They said, 'You're going to love the city. It's smaller than Philadelphia, but you're going to love it. You're going to love the fans. Just watching the playoffs last year, the fans seemed louder there than they did anywhere. I'm really excited about that.

— Forward Scott Hartnell on his upcoming season with the Columbus Blue Jackets