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Defenseman Martinez finding offense with Kings

by Curtis Zupke /

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez is living proof that consistent playing time can help a player find his rhythm.

He has been a regular part of the Kings' lineup since the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with six goals and five assists in 13 games going into Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets at Staples Center.

Martinez's 10 goals are one fewer than forwards Mike Richards and Tyler Toffoli.

"I think I've been able to get into a rhythm," Martinez said. "It's like in anything in life, especially as an athlete, you get into a rhythm of playing in games. When you're in and out of the lineup sometimes, it's the little plays that are hard … those are the ones that make the difference.

"I'm in a rhythm and I'm kind of a benefactor of the whole team playing well and guys making good plays. For whatever reason, they're just going in for me. I'm getting bounces."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter pointed out that Martinez did not score a goal until L.A.'s 31st game, perhaps forgetting Martinez didn't play in 10 of the first 15. But Sutter seemed to chalk up that drought to inexperience.

"He's a young guy," Sutter said. "He's hopefully growing and understanding what it takes to be a consistent defenseman on a good team."

Martinez acknowledges he has benefited from the Kings' possession game, which arguably is approaching the level of the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2012.

"A lot my offense is going to come from the blue line," Martinez said. "I creep down a little bit sometimes here and there, picking my spots. But most of my offense is going to come from the blue line, getting shots through, getting shots to the net. When the forwards are grinding down low and grinding down the other team and they throw it low to high, that's one thing guys see.

"We work on it literally every single day. The way we play, that's how we're going to score goals. I think our team game benefits that."

They're benefitting from it at the perfect time. The Kings have won five in a row and are on the cusp of clinching third place in the Pacific Division. One more win or one more loss by the fourth-place Vancouver Canucks would sew up Los Angeles' fifth straight trip to the postseason.

For the Jets, goalie Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start for the first time since leaving a game on March 14 against the New York Rangers with a lower-body injury.

Here are the projected lineups for the Jets and Kings:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik

Evander Kane - Eric O'Dell - Matt Halischuk

Dustin Byfuglien - Olli Jokinen - Blake Wheeler

Eric Tangradi - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Tobias Enstrom - Keaton Ellerby

Adam Pardy - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Scratched: Patrice Cormier, Devin Setoguchi

Injured: Zach Bogosian (upper body), Mark Scheifele (knee), James Wright (ankle), Chris Thorburn (ankle), Grant Clitsome (back)


Marian GaborikAnze KopitarJustin Williams

Tanner PearsonJeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Dwight KingJarret StollDustin Brown

Kyle CliffordMike RichardsTrevor Lewis

Jake MuzzinDrew Doughty

Robyn Regehr - Slava Voynov

Willie MitchellAlec Martinez

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Scratched: Matt Greene, Jordan Nolan

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