There are the visible signs of what the Kings are missing without center Jarret Stoll.His skill in the faceoff circle, his penalty-killing expertise and the, well, talent for scoring a series-clinching goal at the right time last season – overtime against Vancouver in Game 5.
Then there are the tangible leadership qualities, the things that mostly stay in the dressing room. Stoll, who is out with a suspected concussion, could miss a week after taking a hit from San Jose’s Raffi Torres in Game 1. Game 2 of the Western Conference series between Kings and Sharks is Thursday night at Staples Center.
“He’s a pretty vocal guy,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said after the morning skate. “He’s one of those rah-rah guys. Before the game and in-between periods he’s always chatting and talking. Again, it’ll be a little different in here.
"It’s very similar to when Greener [Matt Greene] is not in here – it’s a little quieter, even more so with Jarret out.”
Last season, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter made a reference to his often-muted team, saying: “They’re all awesome quiet guys.”
Without Stoll and Greene, the volume drops even more.
“It’s just what they bring to the room,” Brown said. “You can’t ask guys to do that – [change] all of sudden.”
Faceoff responsibility ultimately turns into a collective task.
“He’s one of our key faceoff guys,” Brown said. “It’s such a big part of the game nowadays, possession and D-zone draws and eliminating scoring chances off the draw. I’m sure Rick [Mike Richards] and Kopi [Anze Kopitar] will take a few more draws.
“Faceoffs are a five-man [duty]. We’re going to need a lot of help on the wings to make up for Stoll. Statistically, he’s been our best faceoff guy for years now. It’s a matter of the other four guys on the ice really helping out.”
Stoll’s replacement is an obvious one, center Brad Richardson.
Richardson has been scratched since playing about 14 minutes in Game 1 of the St. Louis series, on April 30. He is used to these long droughts.
“I’ve done it a couple of times the last few years,” Richardson said. “It’s nothing different for me. Just go in and get focused.”
He also addressed the issue of faceoffs.
“A lot of the onus is on the centerman because he’s taking the initial draw,” Richardson said. “A lot of the pucks, they’re not always clean wins, there’s a lot of 50-50 pucks just sitting around. You need your wingers around to help you out. You’re always reminding them. You do need a lot of help from the D [defense] and the wingers.”