EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings are four games into the season and still waiting for some big guns to get going.
Anze Kopitar scored two goals in L.A.'s first win last Saturday, but captain Dustin Brown, linemate Justin Williams and second-line center Mike Richards have combined for no goals and two assists going into the game Monday against the Vancouver Canucks.
Asked about Richards, coach Darryl Sutter said, "It's been an adjustment for some of our guys in terms of getting up to pace. He's one of those guys that need to get up to pace."
Sutter will likely bench Dustin Penner for a third straight game. Sutter was typically blunt when asked about Simon Gagne playing out of his usual role, as the fourth line left wing.
"He better get used to it or it will be a totally different role," Sutter said.
The Kings have basically picked up where they left off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with an 0-for-23 drought on the power play. A lot of times it's a matter of getting that first goal out of the way.
"We've created some good chances on the power play, I think everyone can see that," Drew Doughty said. "But the bottom line is, it doesn't matter how many chances you're creating, you need to put the puck in the net. It's something that all of us on the power play are frustrated with right now. Going into tonight, we've just got to be hungry to score that goal."
The bright spot on offense is, of all players, usual fourth line wing Kyle Clifford, who leads the team with five points. Clifford emerged as a scorer two postseasons ago and played in the ECHL during the lockout.
Clifford is a Sutter-type player and Sutter naturally had no reservations putting him on the second line with Richards and Jeff Carter.
"He was so happy that he won [the Stanley Cup], he was still disappointed because he didn't get to play after he got [concussed] in the Vancouver series," Sutter said in reference to last season's Western Conference Quarterfinals.
"That was his whole purpose when he left -- to put himself in a position to play regularly."
Sutter predictably downplayed the rematch against the Canucks, who were the sixth Presidents' Trophy winner to lose in the first round. But Doughty acknowledged the subplot.
"They're a good team, so you kind of learn to hate them," Doughty said. "Tonight's going to be a full-out battle and we're all looking forward to it.
"Waking up this morning, knowing that we're playing them, everyone's so pumped to get out there and get after them. It's going to be a physical matchup -- which everyone loves -- you're getting banged, but at the same time you're giving it back. We love that, and there's nothing more rewarding than beating a team that's won the conference the last couple of years in a row, so we're really looking forward to hopefully doing that tonight."
Dustin Brown – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford – Mike Richards – Jeff Carter
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Simon Gagne – Colin Fraser – Jordan Nolan
Rob Scuderi – Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez – Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin – Davis Drewiske
Injuries: Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene
Scratches: Dustin Penner, Brad Richardson, Andrew Bodnarchuk
Roberto Luongo is expected to start in goal for Vancouver. Luongo was replaced by Cory Schneider after he allowed seven goals against the Kings in the first two games of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals.