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Kings coach Sutter wants better work ethic

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- When Darryl Sutter arrived in Los Angeles three years ago, he constantly told reporters that he doesn't designate between first, second, third and fourth lines. It was an act, but Sutter wanted it known that all players are equal on his team.

Contrast that with Sutter's blunt assessment after his Los Angeles Kings fell into a 2-0 series deficit against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Sharks are playing a quicker game, and their fourth line simply outplayed the Kings' in Game 2.

"I thought that our third and fourth line and our fifth and sixth defensemen could match up better against their third and fourth line," Sutter said Monday. "It hasn't happened yet."

That's a direct reference to Kings fourth liners Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis, and defensemen Matt Greene and Alec Martinez, and it's a talking point going into Game 3 Tuesday night at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, CSN-CA, PRIME).

Sutter will have the last line change, but when asked about it he again had pointed comments toward his role players and stars.

"We had every line matchup on earth last night possible," Sutter said. "[Anze Kopitar] played against everybody and Jeff [Carter] played against everybody. That was not an issue. Any of those matchups haven't been a problem this series. The problem has been when they've put guys who work hard, who are trying to prove something going forward, out there. We haven't matched up against that. That's clear."

Greene was minus-4 and Martinez a minus-3 in Game 2. Even Kopitar was a minus-3.

Another issue is goalie Jonathan Quick, who has been exposed to outnumbered attacks but also hasn't looked like the Quick that comes up with so many quality-chance saves. Sutter said Quick told him he wasn't feeling as sharp as usual, and added he had to decide whether to start Quick or backup goalie Martin Jones for Game 2.

Quick vowed to be better in a surly session with reporters in which, asked for details about cleaning up the Kings' game, said, "I got things to do this afternoon. I don't want to get into all of them."

As far has his game, Quick said, "I don't know if it's not feeling sharp. It's just [that] I'm not doing the job. I feel fine. When I'm going into the games, I feel good. I think it's going to go the way we want it to go, but it hasn't. You got a routine that you've had for years, that you feel works. It's worked in the past. It hasn't worked the past two games, but you're just going to stick with your routine and focus on the details. Like I said earlier, we're trying to win one game and go from there."

The Kings have downplayed similarities to being down 2-0 to the St. Louis Blues and winning the next four games in last season's conference quarterfinals. They said it's a different team, but their makeup really isn't that much different. All six games against the Blues were one-goal games, and that's what makes this series disconcerting for the Kings, who allowed 13 goals in a two-game span for the first time, regular season or Stanley Cup Playoffs, since December of 2010.

"[We're] disappointed that we've played the way we've played to this point, for sure," forward Jarret Stoll said. "Surprised? I don't know if that's the word. We're just disappointed in ourselves right now. The best part about it is we're definitely not done yet. We got a lot of hockey to play, and we can all be better.

"We know what to expect from guys. We just haven't brought it to this point. We're a very, very close group in there. We've been through a lot together. A couple of tough losses, for sure, but we've got to move on and move past them."

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