EL SEGUNDO — It was defenseman Alec Martinez who scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime for the Kings in a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 13, 2014, giving the Kings a 4-1 series win and their second Cup title in three years.
It was the proverbial thrill of victory.
These days, he’s dealing with an upper-body injury that has kept him out the past 12 games. It comes during a down season for the Kings (16-23-3, 35 points), who were 10 points out of the Western Conference’s final playoff berth ahead of Friday’s slate of games.
Martinez on Friday after practice spoke about being on the shelf during these times of struggle. He’s disappointed and frustrated.
“There’s really no other way around it – it sucks,” said Martinez, in his 10th NHL season, all with the Kings. “It’s unfortunate. It’s obviously a part of the game. This kind of thing happens and there’s not a guy in this room that wants to be sitting and watching from the press box, especially with the way the season’s gone.
“You want to be a part of the solution. You want to get out there, you want to help the guys, you want to feel that you’re a part of it.”
Being hurt makes all that impossible.
“And sometimes when you’re injured, you’re not traveling, your schedule’s just different, so you’re not around the guys as much,” said Martinez, whose team on Thursday was routed 6-2 by Tampa Bay, the best team in the league. “So, obviously, it’s frustrating.”
Martinez, 31, is close to returning, though it doesn’t figure to be Saturday night when the Kings host the Edmonton Oilers (19-18-3, 41 points) at Staples Center.
One thing’s certain, he’s of the mind his team still as a run at the postseason in it and he believes his teammates also think that way.
“I mean, I think so,” Martinez said. “If anyone here believes we can’t, then they should leave. It’s no secret we’ve underachieved.”
Martinez has three goals and eight assists this season in 30 games.
HAGELIN CLOSE TO RETURN
Forward Carl Hagelin was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Tanner Pearson in mid-November. After playing five games and getting two assists, Hagelin sustained an MCL sprain and hasn’t played since Nov. 24.
Meanwhile, Pearson has five goals and four assists for the red-hot Penguins since the trade.
Hagelin could be taken off injured reserve in time for Saturday’s game.
“Any time you get the red (no-contact) jersey off, I guess you’re ready to play whenever you get the chance,” Hagelin said.
It was pointed out to Hagelin that it must be tough being out this long after being traded for a popular player like Pearson. He said he can’t worry about that.
“Nah, I don’t think that’s tough at all,” said Hagelin, 30. “It’s tough to get hurt. You don’t care what other people think or what other people expect from you. I mean, injuries happen. So I don’t get too involved in who’s in the trade or what that player meant to the team before.”
However, like Martinez, Hagelin wants to play so he can help the team.
“You want to be out there with the boys, you want to help the team win and, obviously, we haven’t done a good job here as of late,” he said. “So I’ll be looking forward to coming back and helping the team get some wins.”
Kings interim coach Willie Desjardins was asked to detail the problems Edmonton presents. All he had to do was mention one name.
“I think (Connor) McDavid’s certainly a big problem,” he said.
McDavid has 23 goals and 38 assists. His 61 points are third in the league. The 21-year-old center had two goals and an assist in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Arizona.
Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.