Kings

Kings Draft Vilardi & Ducks Re-Sign Eaves

June 23, 2017

The Kings took steps toward helping their offensive woes on Friday by drafting Gabe Vilardi with the #11 pick in the NHL Draft.  

Vilardi is a 6’3, 203 LB center from Kingston, Canada.  Last season he scored 29 goals and 61 points in 49 games for the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League.  

The 17-year-old was rated as high as the fourth best player in the draft according to some publications, but fell out of the top 10 due to some of his perceived skating deficiencies.  However, the Kings were impressed with Vilardi’s big game abilities.  He impressed them with seven assists in Windsor’s four-game victory over Erie in the Memorial Cup final.

“We found that on the biggest stage, he took it to another level,” Kings assistant general manager Michael Futa said of Vilardi. “We were looking to upgrade our skill, and it’s a package of a big kid with just incredible skill set and he’s a winner.”

Vilardi will attend the Kings development came in El Segundo next week.  Although he will likely not be a part of the Kings roster this upcoming season, some are projecting him to be a part of the Kings team by the 2018-2019 season.

Meanwhile, the Ducks did not have a 1st round pick in Friday’s 1st round.  However, they re-signed winger Patrick Eaves, who they acquired from the Dallas Stars for what turned into this year’s first round pick after advancing to the Western Conference Finals.  

Eaves signed a 3-year $9.45 million contract with Anaheim.  He scored 11 goals in 20 regular season games following the trade to Anaheim.  He also added two goals in seven playoff games.  However, he suffered an ankle injury during the 2nd round against Edmonton, knocking him out of the remainder of playoff action.

His contract includes a no-movement clause as well.  Eaves would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, but liked what he saw in Anaheim.

“Being in that locker room is something special. I noticed that on day one,” said Eaves.   “I’ve played with great players, great people …There was something different.”

Rounds 2 through 7 of the NHL draft will commence on Saturday at the United Center in Chicago.

Kings & Ducks Lose D-Men In Expansion Draft

June 21, 2017

The Kings and Ducks both lost defenseman in the NHL Expansion Draft on Wednesday night.  The Las Vegas Golden Knights selected Brayden McNabb from the Kings, and Clayton Stoner from the Ducks.

In addition, the Ducks traded defenseman Shea Theodore to Las Vegas, and in exchange, the Golden Knights agreed not to select Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen or Josh Manson.

Under the Expansion Draft rules, Las Vegas was required to select at least one player from each of the 32 NHL clubs.  However, since some teams had trouble deciding which players they wanted to protect from selection, they made trades with Vegas, like the Ducks did, sending them additional players so other unprotected players could not be selected.

In the case of the Ducks, they were forced to leave talented defenseman Vatanen and Manson unprotected, caused by having several players on their team with no-movement clauses, which forced them to protect those players.

Stoner was injured for much of last season, and carried a cap hit of $3.25 million.  That’s a big win for Anaheim.  However, Theodore was a promising young defenseman that needed to be traded in order to prevent the loss of two very talented young defenseman.

In the case of the Kings, there were several players who were candidates to be selected by Vegas such as forward Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford, Nic Dowd, and possibly even Dustin Brown.  However, the Golden Knights chose the young, hard-hitting defenseman McNabb.

The loss of McNabb gives the Kings an additional $1.8 million under the salary cap.  Although the Kings can bear the loss of McNabb’s talent, they were likely hoping a higher salaried player like Brown would be taken.

Kings Re-Sign Tyler Toffoli

June 7, 2017

The Kings re-signed forward Tyler Toffoli to a 3-year $13.3 million contract extension on Wednesday. Toffoli was scheduled to become a a restricted free agent come July 1st.

The 25-year-old forward will carry a very reasonable cap hit of $4.6 million for the next three seasons, after which he will still be able to return to free agency at the age of 28.

Toffoli has been one of the Kings most important offensive players over the past two seasons.  He scored 16 goals and 34 points in 63 games this past season, in which he dealt with an injury.  However, during the 2015-2016 season he scored a career-high in goals with 31, and in points with 58.

Toffoli also had 14 points in 26 playoff games during the Kings’ run to the Stanley Cup title in 2014.

Toffoli had postseason surgery on his left knee after struggling with injuries for half of the season, according to his agent, Pat Brisson.  He is expected to be ready for training camp.

With Toffoli and Tanner Pearson signed to extensions, the Kings now have 18 players under contract for $67 million.  The NHL salary cap is expected to come in between $73-$76 million, meaning the Kings have some flexibility for additional moves.

Kings Re-Sign Pearson

May 10, 2017

The Kings have signed Tanner Pearson to a 4-year contract extension worth $15 million.  Pearson would have been a restricted free agent on July 1st.

The 24-year-old left wing scored 24 goals and 44 points in 80 games for the Kings last season.  In the past two years, he’s scored 39 goals for the Kings, and been one of the most reliable offensive players.

“We were able to come to a good deal, and we were both pretty happy about it,” Pearson said. “There’s obviously a bit of negotiating that had to be done. Other than that, it went pretty smoothly and I’m happy with staying in L.A.”

With a salary cap hit of $3.75 million, Pearson’s new contract should help the Kings manage their difficult salary cap situation a little better.

LA also traded the rights to goaltender Ben Bishop to the Dallas Start for a 4th round pick in 2017.  The pick originally belonged to the Montreal Canadians.

Dallas has until July 1 to reach an agreement with Bishop, before he’ll be able to negotiate with all 30 other teams as a free agent.

The Kings will now look to re-sign forward Tyler Toffoli, who is also scheduled to be a restricted free agent on July 1st.  Toffoli scored 16 goals last year in an injury-shortened season.  He’s scored a total of 47 goals in the past two seasons.

Kings Name John Stevens Head Coach

April 23, 2017

The Kings have promoted assistant John Stevens to head coach, which the team announced on Sunday.

Stevens replaces Darryl Sutter, who was fired by the team on April 10, along with General Manager Dean Lombardi.

The 51-year-old has been on the Kings coaching staff for the last seven season.  Prior to being a part of the Kings staff, he coached the Philadelphia Flyers from 2006-2009, where he compiled a record of 120-109-34.  In 2008, he led Philadelphia to an Eastern Conference Final appearance.

General Manager Rob Blake and Stevens held discussions for over a week now regarding the direction of the hockey club.

“John and I had very productive dialogue this last week in relation to his head coaching philosophy and specifically how he would implement a strategy to activate our players offensively while maintaining the defensive philosophies we have come to be known for,”  Blake said in a statement. “I am confident that we are both in agreement on how that can be executed.

“With that said, we believe John has the ideal qualities to lead our hockey club. His wide array of coaching experience, including success as an NHL head coach and his inherent knowledge of our players and those in our development system, is very appealing to us. We are confident he is the best person to lead our hockey club forward.”

Stevens is known for being a very defensive-minded head coach, but his challenge will be improving upon a Kings offense that was ranked 25th in the NHL last season.  LA missed the playoffs for the 2nd time in the last 3 seasons.

The Kings will hold a press conference on Monday afternoon to make the announcement and formally introduce Stevens.

Kings Fire Sutter & Lombardi

April 10, 2017

The Kings began their offseason with a major shakeup on Monday night, firing head coach Darryl Sutter, and General Manager Dean Lombardi.  Lombardi will be replaced by Rob Blake, who was serving as Assistant General Manager, and Luc Robitaille will become team President.

Under Lombardi and Sutter, the Kings had the most successful four year run in franchise history, winning Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014.    However, in the last three years, the Kings have missed the playoffs twice, and won only 1 playoff game in that stretch.

Dan Beckerman, President and CEO of Kings parent company AEG, made this statement on Monday:

“This was an extremely difficult decision and was made with an enormous amount of consideration for what we have accomplished in our past. But the present and future of our organization is the highest priority,” said Beckerman. “Words cannot express our gratitude and appreciation for what Dean and Darryl have accomplished for the Kings franchise. They built this team and helped lead us to two Stanley Cup Championships and will forever be remembered as all-time greats in Kings history. But with that level of accomplishment comes high expectations and we have not met those expectations for the last three seasons. With the core players we have in place, we should be contending each year for the Stanley Cup. Our failure to meet these goals has led us to this change.”

The Kings will hold a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at Staples Center to discuss the news, which isn’t all that much of a surprise given recent speculation.

Sutter finished with the best coaching record in franchise history, 225-147-53, and the second-most games coached in L.A history.  However, Sutter was criticized by many for his inability to consistently give opportunities to his younger players that needed to be developed.

Lombardi had a year left on his contract.  He was the architect of two Stanley Cup Championship teams, drafting the likes of Drew Doughty, and fortifying the roster with veterans like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Marian Gaborik.  However, Lombardi’s loyalty to those veteran players created a very difficult salary cap situation for the Kings to improve their team, and their physical style took a toll on those aging veterans.

One coaching candidate the Kings may look to is John Stevens, who has been the team’s associate head coach and previously coached the Philadelphia Flyers.  Ontario Reign Coach Mike Stothers could also be in the mix if the Kings intend to give more opportunity to ether younger players.

Robitaille and Blake will have to address what style the Kings will play moving forward, but will have to do so with limited salary cap flexibility to improve the roster.  Leadership will also be a major question, after stripping Dustin Brown of the captaincy last season, while giving it to Anze Kopitar, who had a very poor offensive season.

Ducks Edge Kings To Win Division


April 9, 2017

The Ducks outlasted the Kings in overtime 4-3 on Sunday night at the Honda Center.  The victory clinched Anaheim’s 5th straight Pacific Division title.

Nate Thompson scored the game-tying with with almost 8:30 left in the 3rd, and Shea Theodore won the game in overtime.

Theodore’s goal came on a breakaway 53 seconds into overtime to give the Ducks the victory.  Anaheim has earned a point in 14 consecutive games, which is currently the longest streak in the NHL.  The Ducks will open the playoffs against the Calgary Flames.

“We went through a lot of ups and downs this year,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said.  “We grew as a group as we went along, and that was a good sign. I thought the second half of the year, we did a lot better job with our composure, with our game, and we built toward this.”

The Kings gave a spirited effort despite playing for nothing but pride, and to honor their hall of fame play-by-play announcer, Bob Miller.  Miller was calling the final game of his storied career.  He got to call 7 goals on the night.  Drew Doughty, Kyle Clifford, and Dustin Brown all scored for the Kings.  Patrick Eaves and Antoine Vermette also scored for Anaheim.

Jerome Iginla might have played the final game of his NHL career for the Kings.  The 40-year-old said he will discuss his future with his family before making a decision.

“We hung in there,” Kings’ coach Darryl Sutter said. “I’ve said that lots. We didn’t score enough goals this year. We didn’t have enough goal-scorers in our lineup.”

The Kings season is over, and they’ll have to do some soul searching after missing the playoffs for the 2nd time in the last 3 seasons.

The Ducks will open the playoffs on Thursday against Calgary at the Honda Center.  One concern for Anaheim will be the loss of defenseman Cam Fowler, who is out 2-6 weeks with a knee injury.

Kings Win In Bob Miller Home Finale

April 8, 2017

The Kings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime on Saturday afternoon at Staples.  The win was a nice way to say goodbye to Kings Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer Bob Miller, who was calling the final home game of his career.

Drew Doughty scored the game-winning goal 27 seconds into overtime, after redirecting a pass from Jeff Carter past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.  The goal finished off an exciting 3rd period, which saw the Kings rally twice from one-goal deficits.  Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli also scored for the Kings.  Chicago’s goals came from Jonathan Toews and and Artemi Panarin.

The Blackhawks had a 1-0 lead after Toews wristed a shot that deflected off of Jonathan Quick’s shoulder at the 6:25 mark of the 1st.  That lead would stand until the 3rd.

Toffoli blasted a one-timer by Corey Crawford on the power play at 4:52 of the 3rd period.  That tied the game, but the Hawks would strike back 9 minutes later, when Panarin scored his 31st of the season.  Panarin took a cross-ice pass from Patrick Kane, which Quick had no chance to stop.  However, Brown tied it up again with 55 seconds left in the game, after sneaking backdoor and putting a backhander by Crawford.

That set the stage for Doughty’s heroics in overtime.  Quick made 25 saves as well for the Kings, who will miss the playoffs for the 2nd time in the last 3 seasons.

Miller has spent 44 years as the voice of the Kings.  Saturday afternoon’s game featured a number of tributes to him, which including the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Barry Melrose, Vin Scully, and many others.

Miller will call the final game of his career on Sunday night in Anaheim, against the Ducks.

Flames Burn Kings

April 6, 2017

The Flames got 3 second period goals on Thursday night and took down the Kings 4-1 at Staples Center.

Jon Gillies made 27 saves in his first career start, and Dennis Wideman, Freddie Hamilton and Alex Chiasson scored during the 3 goal blitz in a game that meant nothing to the Kings in the standings. The Flames on the other hand are trying to earn the top wild card spot in the West.

The Kings lone goal on the night came from Trevor Lewis, just over 6 minutes into the game. That tied the game at 1-1 after Sam Bennett gave the Flames a 1-0 lead at the 4:57 mark of the 1st.

Ben Bishop made 20 saves for the Kings, and has lost 5 of his 7 starts since being acquired just before the trade deadline.

“We don’t match up in our division very well, and we certainly did not tonight and it’s clear,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.

The Flames can now assure themselves a first-round matchup against the top team in the Pacific Division with a win against San Jose or a Nashville loss at Winnipeg on Saturday.

The Kings have two games remaining in their season. They’ll face the Blackhawks on Saturday at Staples, and finish the season on Sunday at the Ducks. Those will be the final two games that Hall of Fame Kings broadcaster Bob Miller will call for his storied career

Kings Find Offense

Against Oilers

April 4, 2017

The Kings got their offense going on Monday night at Staples Center in a 6-4 win over the Oilers.  The win ended the Oilers 5-game win streak, and put a dent in their hopes of winning the Pacific Division.

Trevor Lewis and Tanner Pearson scored 8.5 minutes apart in the 3rd period, and Jonathan Quick made 23 saves for the Kings.

The Kings also got goals from Nic Dowd, Nick Shore, Dustin Brown, and an empty-netter from Drew Doughty.  It was just the 2nd time in the last 7 games that the Kings were able to defeat a playoff-bound opponent.

For the Oilers, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two goals, while Milan Lucic and Daniel Nurse scored as well.

Cam Talbott made 20 saves for Edmonton, which is now tied with San Jose for 2nd place win the Pacific Division with three games left.

The Kings have three games left this season.    They will return to action on Thursday vs Calgary at Staples Center.

Kings Eliminated By

Arizona

April 2, 2017

The Kings were officially eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday night with a 2-1 loss to Arizona at Staples Center.

The loss was very symbolic of the Kings’ season.  They needed a win to keep their season alive against a very bad team, the team with the 2nd worst record in the West, and they came up short.

The Coyotes got on the board late in the 1st period, when Alexander Burmistrov tapped home his own rebound past Jonathan Quick.  The goal came on the power play with just 15 seconds left in the period.

Arizona would strike again at the 3:09 mark of the 2nd when Anthony Duclair took advantage of sloppy Kings’ puck handling.  Duclair scored on his own rebound, and the Coyotes had a 2-0 lead.

The Kings would score a fluke goal in the 3rd period when Alec Martinez tried to shoot the puck along the boards into the Coyotes zone from center ice.   The puck bounced off Coyotes defenseman Jordan Martinook, and back toward the Arizona goal, which was vacated by goaltender Mike Smith.  Smith thought the puck was going to end up behind the net before it was re-directed towards the goal, but the puck ended up going into the open net.

That’s as close as the Kings would get.  They had three power play opportunities after that, but were unable to tie the game.  After the game Anze Kopitar reflect on the missed opportunities.

“We just had too many stretches of playing not remotely good enough, and the losses kept piling on,” Kopitar said. “I think coming back after the break, we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be.”

Jonathan Quick said the problem was more than just lack of offense. “I don’t think it’s all on the goal scoring.  This time of year you’ve got to know how to keep the puck out of your net just as much as you need to know how to put it in. It’s on everybody.”

With much younger and faster teams in the division, the Kings will have to consider much more significant changes this offseason.  LA has missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, and has just one playoff win in that stretch.  Many of their quality players from their Stanley Cups victories in 2012 and 2014 are no longer on the roster.

“These guys know,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose all took a major step in terms of what their teams were. Keep up. You’ve got to keep up. There’s no question about it.”

The Kings have four games left in their season, beginning with Tuesday night against Edmonton at Staples Center.

Kings Still Clinging

To Hope

March 31, 2017

The Kings kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Friday night in Vancouver, as they defeated the Canucks 2-0.

Jarome Iginla continued his hot streak, scoring the 625th goal of his career, while Jonathan Quick made 35 saves for LA for his 2nd shutout of the season.

Tyler Toffoli also scored for the Kings, who are now 8 points behind Nashville for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have just five games left to play. That 2nd wild card spot is the only playoff spot remaining in the West, as 7 other West teams have clinched berths in this year’s postseason.

The Kings would need to go 5-0, while the Predators would have to go 1-4 for LA to pass them in the standings. Any combination of Nashville wins and Kings losses that total two will put the Predators in the postseason.

It was the 10th time this season the Canucks had been shutout, after they had been eliminated from postseason contention last week.

Iginla’s goal midway through the 2nd period put the Kings on the board, and proved to be the game-winner. The 40-year-old redirected a shot from Alec Martinez past Canucks goalie Ryan Miller.   The goal tied Iginla with Joe Sakic for 15th on the all-time NHL list.

Tyler Toffoli would extend the lead to 2-0 four minutes later. The goal was Toffoli’s 15th of the season, and came on a shot from the right circle, which finished off a 3-on-2 rush.

The Kings will now return to Staples Center for a four game homestand. The first will be Sunday against Arizona. Nashville on the other hand will have three of its final five games on the road, but two of those are against teams that aren’t in the playoffs.

“We’re not going to give up,” Jerome Iginla said. “We’ve got to make sure that we do our part. In one week things can happen. Teams can go cold. It happens. We’ve just got to focus on ourselves. So nobody’s quitting.”

Kings Spoil Flames

Party

March 29, 2017

The Kings prevented the Flames from clinching a playoff spot on Wednesday night in Alberta, defeating Calgary 4-1.

Jerome Iginla led the way for LA, scoring his 100th career game-winning goal, picking up an assist, and decisively winning a fight against Deryk Engelland.  Trevor Lewis, Anze Kopitar, and Jeff Carter also scored for the Kings.

This game was all about revenge for the Kings.  When these two teams last met on March 19, Calgary rookie Matthew Tkachuk elbowed Drew Doughty in the face and picked up a two game suspension.  Even prior to the start of the game, Kyle Clifford approached Tkachuk near center ice and exchanged words with the Flames rookie, as did other members of both teams.

Tkachuk fought Kings’ defenseman Brayden McNabb in the 1st period, and Tkachuk was dropped to the ice after a good upper cut.  Iginla’s fight with Engelland resulted in a cut opening up on forehead of the Flames’ defenseman.

It was Iginla’s goal with 46 seconds left in the 2nd period that would be the decisive tally.  The goal came during a big scramble in front of Flames’ goalie Brian Elliott.  Iginla now has 5 goals in 13 games for LA.

Doug Hamilton scored the Flames only goal.  Calgary will have another chance to clinch a playoff spot on Friday night against the Sharks at home.

Ben Bishop made 29 saves for LA.  Bishop is now 2-2-2 since being acquired from Tampa at the trade deadline.

The Kings will try to keep their dim playoff hopes alive on Friday night in Vancouver, against the Canucks.

Oilers Edge Kings &

Clinch

March 28, 2017

The Kings lost yet another opportunity to make up ground in the Western Conference playoff race, losing 2-1 to the Oilers on Tuesday night in Edmonton.  The loss meant the Oilers clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2005.

Cam Talbot made 34 saves. while Connor McDavid and Eric Gryba scored for Edmonton.  The Kings’ goal came from Jerome Iginla.  The Oilers have won 7 of their last 8 games.

Jonathan Quick made 27 saves for LA, but the Kings have lost four of their last five games.  They trail St. Louis by 11 points with only 7 games left to play.

It looked like the Oilers scored 49 seconds into the game, but Oscar Klefbom’s goal was disallowed after the referee ruled that there was goaltender interference on the play.

However, McDavid would score later in the period when his pass deflected off of Derek Forbort and past Quick.  It was his 27th goal of the season, and league-leading 89th point.

Iginla tied it up with 3 minutes left in the period, after firing a shot past Talbot on his glove side.  The goal was his 4th in 12 games since being acquired by the Kings just prior to the trade deadline.

The Oilers would score the game-winner at 7:03 of the 2nd period when Gryba’s long shot deflected past Quick.  The Kings even got a break when another Oiler goal was waived off when officials ruled they blew the whistle because of a delayed penalty prior to the puck entering the net.

The Kings had chances but couldn’t capitalize.  Jeff Carter had an opportunity short-handed that was stopped by the pad of Talbot.  “I thought I had some room low blocker. I think I just caught the top of his pad,” Carter said.

LA also had opportunities in the final minute, but Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin were stopped by Talbot.

The Kings will try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday in Calgary.  Anze Kopitar knows things aren’t looking good.  “At the start of the year, I think if you looked at our roster, not a whole lot of people would have predicted that we’d be in the position we are right now,” Kopitar said.

Kings Shut Down

Again

March 25, 2017

An all-too familiar scene went down at Staples Center on Saturday night.  The Kings not scoring a goal.  This time it was a 3-0 loss to the Rangers, all but officially sealing their fate of missing the playoffs.

Once again, the Kings would have their chances, but couldn’t finish.  Derek Stepan scored late in the 2nd period and Antii Raanta made 30 saves for his 8th career shutout.

The Rangers also got goals from Ryan McDonagh on the power-play, and an empty-netter from Rick Nash.  New York has won 8 of their last 10 road games.  They have the best road record in the NHL.

Jonathan Quick made 17 saves for the Kings.  He still hasn’t given up hope on making the playoffs though.  “We have to focus on the next game. Try to win the next game and go from there,” Quick said. “That’s it. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, that’s your mind-set. That’s what we’ll do.”

The Kings had a number of younger players in the lineup, who continued to gain experience.  That included rookie Jonny Brodzinski, who was making his NHL debut.  The 23-year-old nearly scored his first career goal, but was stopped on a breakaway in the 2nd period.

“I wish we had gotten the win. If I score on that breakaway I had then it’s a totally different game,” Brodzinski said.

Stepan scored at the 13:02 mark of the 2nd period, when he fired a shot past Quick after the puck bounced off the boards.

The lead became 2-0 when McDonagh scored four seconds into a double minor against Andy Andreoff for high sticking.  McDonagh blasted a shot that went through Quick’s legs.  Nash would add the empty-net goal with just over a minute left in the game, and that sealed the Kings fate.

The Kings will try their luck on the road against a few division foes starting Tuesday in Edmonton, followed by games on Wednesday and Friday at Calgary and Vancouver.

Kings Beat Jets But

Time Running Out

March 23, 2017

The Kings kept their very slim playoff hopes alive on Thursday night with a 5-2 win over the Jets at Staples Center.

The Kings scored four power play goals on the night.  Drew Doughty, Marian Gaborik, and Anze Kopitar scored power play goals, while Tanner Pearson and Jake Muzzin also scored for LA.  The Kings still trail Nashville by 8 points with 9 games to play.

Gaborik scored at 2:01 of the 3rd period to give the Kings a 3-2 lead.  Almost 2 minutes later it was Doughty extending the LA lead by 2.  Then Pearson scored a short-handed goal with 10:38 left.

Patrick Laine and Mathieu Perreault each scored for the Jets.  Ben Bishp made 19 saves for the Kings.

The last time the Kings had four goals on special teams was when they scored four power-play goals against San Jose on April 5, 2012.

Kopitar has gotten hot but it is likely too little too late.  The Kings captain has scored 5 goals and 9 points in his last 10 games.

LA will be back in action on Saturday night against the Rangers at Staples Center.  Five of the Kings last nine games are at home, but they’ll have a three game road trip to Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver before the season ends.

Kings Get Shut

Down In Edmonton

March 20, 2017

Just when you think things can’t get any worse for the Kings, they suffer a 2-0 loss to Edmonton on Monday night in Alberta.  At this point, the Kings chances of making the playoffs are about as good as me dating Mila Kunis.

Cam Talbot made 35 saves for his second consecutive shutout and 7th of the season, and the Kings lost their 2nd consecutive critical game.

Patrick Maroon scored 1 minute into the game, and former King Milan Lucic poked a rebound past Jonathan Quick about 11 minutes later, which accounted for both goals on the evening.  Lucic’s goal came on the power play, which ended a streak of 34 consecutive LA penalty kills on the road.

The Kings on the other hand were unable to convert on either of their two power play opportunities.  They also showed why they have only the 25th best offensive in the league all night, failing to capitalize on the scoring chances that would come their way.  The Kings were outshot 15-7 in the 1st period.  Although they would put up 28 shots the rest of the way, they couldn’t finish.

Jonathan Quick stopped 29 shots but the Kings have now lost four of their last five games.  They are six points behind the St. Louis Blues for the final playoff spot in the West with only 10 games remaining.

The Kings return home on Thursday to face the Winnipeg Jets.  They will need a Titanic like disaster from the teams in front of them, along with winning nearly all of their remaining games to have a chance at playing in the postseason.

Kings Get Trounced

By Flames

March 19, 2017

The Kings continued to fall further out of the playoffs on Sunday night in Calgary, this time getting beaten by the Flames 5-2.

This night belonged to the Flames Johnny Gaudreau, who had a goal and two assists for Calgary.  “Johnny Hockey”  set up goals by Sean Monahan and Michael Stone to give the Flames an early lead, then scored the second of two Calgary goals 50 seconds apart early in the second period.

The Flames also got goals from Mark Giordano and Kris Versteeg, and Brian Elliott made 19 saves.  Anze Kopitar and Nic Dowd scored the Kings’ goals, but it was a rough night from the start.

Jonathan Quick started for LA, but was pulled after giving up two goals on seven shots.  Ben Bishop relieved him, and gave up 2 more goals on 16 shots.

LA’s usually stingy defense was nowhere to be found on Sunday.  The speed of the Flames created great scoring opportunities, and the Kings were never able to impose their heavy-hitting style of play.

The Kings are now six points behind Nashville for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.  Calgary on the other hand, has won 12 of their last 13 games, and moved into 3rd place in the Pacific Division.

With just 11 games left, the Kings will now travel to Edmonton to take on the Oilers on Monday night.

Kings Keep Hope

Alive With Win

Over Sabres

March 17th, 2017

The Kings kept their fading playoff hopes alive on Thursday night at Staples Center with a 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

The game was scoreless until the 3rd period when Jerome Iginla got the Kings on the board 36 seconds into the final frame.  It was Iginla’s 3rd goal since being traded to the Kings, which was set up by the hard work of Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.

About 14 minutes later, rookie Adrian Kempe scored his second goal as King with a beautiful wrist shot from the right circle.  Brown earned his second assist of the game on the play.

Jonathan Quick would slam the door after that.  The Kings netminder made 26 saves and earned his 1st shutout of the season.

The win helped the Kings keep pace with the St. Louis Blues, who defeated the Sharks on Thursday to remain 4 points ahead of LA in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.  Both teams have 12 games left.

“We need to win every game,” forward Tyler Toffoli said earlier this week. “We need to get rolling here and find a way to get two points in all these games coming up.”

LA finished their 7 game home stand with a 4-2-1 record, which sounds good, but not under the circumstances.  The Kings started the homestand just 2 points out of a playoff spot, and now they are 4 points back after critical losses to the Blues and Coyotes.

Now the Kings hit the road for two more critical games.  The first comes Sunday night at Calgary, followed by Monday night in Edmonton.  Perhaps one of the few bright spots for LA in their chase for the final playoff spot is that they have a total of 6 games remaining against the Flames and Oilers, who can still be caught before the season is over.

Kings Dealt Another

Crushing Loss


March 14, 2017

For the 2nd night in a row, the Kings were dealt another devastating blow to their playoff hopes.  This time, a 3-2 loss to Arizona in shootout at Staples Center.  The shootout took 11 rounds, but the Coyotes prevailed on a goal by Anthony DeAngelo.

Even though the Kings got 1 point in the standings, it’s not nearly enough with just 13 games left in the season, and 4 points out of a playoff spot.  LA would need to win 10 of their final 13 games, and that’s if St. Louis or Edmonton play .500 hockey the rest of the way.

The Kings actually had the lead twice in this one.  After a scoreless 1st period, Tyler Toffoli scored his 1st of two goals on the night at the 5:03 mark of the 2nd period.  The Coyotes would tie things up in the 3rd period on Max Domi’s 8th goal of the season.  It looked like the Kings we’re going to come away with 2 points when Toffoli struck again on the power play with 1:36 left.  His 14th of the season.  However, the Coyotes would answer.  Domi would take advantage of a broken play in front of Kings goalie Ben Bishop, to tie the game with 45 seconds left.

In overtime, both teams had their chances, but Bishop and Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue made some big saves.  Arizona even had a 4-on-3 power play in the final seconds of OT, but the Kings managed to get the game to a shootout.

That set the stage for the drama in shootout.  Jeff Carter got things started off nicely for the Kings with a goal on a beautiful wrist shot that beat Domingue.  Brandon Perlini answered for the Coyotes with a goal of his own.  10 rounds later, Bishop and Domingue continued to make save after save, until DeAngelo won it for Arizona in the 11th round.

Bishop made 30 saves and played a strong game, but he’s still winless since being traded to the Kings.  Once again, the LA dominated on the stat sheet, but not on the scoresheet.  The Kings outshot the Coyotes 46-32, and dominated the faceoff circle 49-29.

Kings Playoff Hopes

On Thin Ice After

Loss To Blues


March 13th, 2017

Well at least there’s good news for Bob Miller.  The Kings last two games of the season probably won’t be stressful when he’s calling the final two games of his career, because the games will likely be meaningless.  After the Kings lost 3-1 to the Blues on Monday at Staples Center, their playoff hopes are fading fast.

Magnus Paajarvi scored a power-play goal, and Jake Allen made 38 big saves as the Blues extended their lead over the Kings to 5 points for the final playoff spot in the West.  There are 14 games left to play, and that means that even if the Blues win half of their remaining games, the Kings would have to win 10 of their final 14 just to pass them in the standings.  LA hasn’t won 10 of 14 games during this entire season.

The game was scoreless after the 1st period, in a very cautious twenty minutes from both teams.  Then in the 2nd, David Perron dug the puck out from underneath Jonathan Quick, and pushed the puck into the net after the Kings goaltender made the initial save.

The Blues made it 2-0 just 1:10 into the 3rd period, when Paajarvi deflected in a shot from Patrick Berglund, after Quick once again made the initial save on the play.  It was a power play goal for St. Louis, which was just the 4th time the Kings have given up a power play goal in the last 55 penalty-kill opportunities.

Dustin Brown got the Kings on the board with just over 3 minutes left, putting home a rebound after a big scramble of bodies in front of the Blues net.

However, the Kings would get no closer.  Jake Allen continued to respond with big save after big save, and Alexander Steen closed the scoring with an empty-netter.  So how do the Kings approach the next 14 games?

“Just not pay attention to standings, not pay attention to what other the other teams did. And just worry about us and win every single game for the rest of the season,” defenseman Drew Doughty said.

The Kings face another must win game on Tuesday night against Phoenix at Staples Center.  LA is 5-5-2 in back-to-back games this season.

Kempe’s First NHL

Goal Helps Kings

Beat Caps


March 11th,

Adrian Kempe scored his 1st NHL goal midway through the 3rd period, which helped give the Kings get a critical 2 points on Saturday vs the Capitals.  The Kings kept pace with the St. Louis Blues, and remained 3 points behind them in the race for the final playoff spot in the West.

Anze Kopitar also scored a goal and had an assist for LA, and Jonathan Quick made 17 saves to help the Kings win their 3rd game in the last 4 tries.  Marian Gaborik also scored, and Jeff Carter had an empty-netter.

This was the first time the Kings won back-to-back games since early February.  Kempe was excited to finally find the back of the net for LA.  “There was a lot of time left in the game,” he said, “[but] I think it was an important goal and it was a really great feeling to finally put it in.”

The Kings fell behind 1-0 and 2-1, but tied it at 2-2 heading into the 3rd period on the goal by Kopitar.  It was the Kings fifth straight game with a power play goal, and the 3rd in the last 4 games for LA captain.  Then Kempe put the Kings ahead for good by spinning away from Capitals forward Marcus Johansson, and beating Philipp Grubauer,

Jonathan Quick started for the 2nd straight game, but Darryl Sutter reassured everyone that Ben Bishop will still see some action.

“Quite honest, we are in a position where we’re fighting for a playoff spot because our goaltending, in February, hit the wall,” Sutter said.

The Kings will have a huge game against the Blues on Monday night at Staples Center, as both teams continue to fight for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Iginla Comes

Through For The

Kings

March 9th, 2017

The Kings are desperate for every win they can get right now, and they got a big 3-2 overtime win against Nashville on Thursday night.  Jerome Iginla scored his first two goals as a King, including the game-winner in overtime.

“It was a hard-fought game for sure. Lots on the line,” Iginla said. “It feels good to be able to get that win as a group. “New team, to be able to find some way to contribute, it’s exciting to be out there at the end in a key situation.”

Nashville would strike first in this one.  Callie Jarnkrok beat Jonathan Quick in the slot, after Roman Josi knocked the puck off of Marian Gaborik’s stick while battling along the boards.  That was only the Predator’s 3rd shot of the game.

The Kings would strike back in the 2nd, when Iginla took a pass from Gaborik, and manuevered his way around Pekka Rinne for a power play goal.

Just 91 seconds into the 3rd period, the Predators would go ahead on a goal by Kevin Fiala.  He knocked in a rebound after a big scramble in front of the Kings net.

However 10 minutes later, Gaborik tied the game after knocking down a shot from Alec Martinez, and tucking it underneath Rinne.  It was Gaborik’s 8th goal of the season.

That’s when Iginla would send the Kings home as winners.  The win pulls LA within 1 points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, which is held by the St. Louis Blues.  The Kings are coming off a 5 day break, and have played 1 more game than the Blues.

LA has its work cut out for them just to make the playoffs, but Iginla likes the Kings chances.  “I’m positive. I’m very optimistic,” he said. “I know we’ve got a lot of work to do. But these guys, they’re winners. It’s a very tight-knit group. This time of year, they find ways.  “It’s going to be a last fun month of the regular season. Everyone believes we can get in.”

The Kings continue their home stand on Saturday night against the Washington Capitals.  Then they’ll have a big showdown on Monday night against St. Louis.

Kings Rally Falls

Short Against

Canucks


March 5th, 2017

Another game the Kings needed got away from them on Saturday night at Staples.  The Kings fell behind 4-0, but their rally fell short as they lost 4-3 to Vancouver.

Sven Baertschi scored twice, Ryan Miller made 41 saves and the Vancouver Canucks ended a four-game losing streak.

Trevor Lewis and Anze Kopitar each scored a power-play goal, Alec Martinez scored a short-handed goal and Ben Bishop made 17 saves in his home debut for Los Angeles, which missed out on a chance to move three points ahead of St. Louis for the second wild card in the Western Conference.

In typical Kings fashion, LA outshot their opponent 44-21, and dominated the possession numbers as well.  The Kings even won the special teams battle, scoring two power play goals, and not giving up any to Vancouver.

However, LA continued to have problems 5-on-5.  “On the score sheet, we may be close, but really the first two periods, it was nowhere near close enough to our game, and nowhere near close to being good enough,” Kopitar said.

The Kings were victimized by a few unfortunate deflections against them, but they have little room for error left.   LA continues game 3 of its 7 game home stand on Thursday against Nashville.

Kings Beat Leafs

After Big Day


March 2nd, 2017

It was an emotional day for the Kings, who managed to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in a shootout on Thursday night at Staples Center.  It was bittersweet for Kings fans after learning that Hall of Fame announcer, Bob Miller will be retiring at the end of the season.

The Kings trailed 2-0 after Toronto got goals from Tyler Bozak and Nikita Zaitsev in the 1st two periods.  However, LA battled back in the 3rd, sparked by Anze Kopitar’s power play goal 27 seconds in the period.

The goal was the first for the Kings captain in the last 13 games, and bounced off the head of Zaitsev in to the Toronto net.

Just 90 seconds later, Tanner Pearson tied the game at 2-2 after sliding the puck past Frederik Anderson.  It was his 22nd goal of the season.

After an exciting overtime session in which both teams had their chances, the game would go to a shootout.  That’s when Kopitar would score the only goal for either side, to help secure a big Kings win.

Jonathan Quick made 29 saves, and stopped all 3 Maple Leafs he faced in the shootout.  Quick’s final save was very acrobatic, where he even reached behind his back to stop the fin shot.

With the win, the Kings inch past St. Louis and back into the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Jerome Iginla made his debut as a King.  He knows he has work to do though,  “Personally, I can get better,” he said. “It was a fun game to be a part of. You could tell how important the points were, for them and for us. And to be able to come back and get that in the overtime, back and forth is pretty exciting.

As for Bob Miller, just hours earlier, he announced that this would be his final season with the Kings, after  44 years and 3,351 broadcasts.  Miller is 78, and coming off of a minor stroke he suffered in January.  It’s the 2nd straight season that Miller has had health problems.  In February of last year, he had a four-way heart-bypass operation.  Doctors had essentially made the decision for him, telling him to slow down.

“I said, ‘Well, in this sport, in my mind, there’s no taking it easy. When they drop the puck, you’re going. You’re on,’” he said. “And that’s what the fans expect from you and that’s the way you want to do the game.

Ralph Strangis has been filling in for Miller for the last month with play-by-play duties.  However, Miller said that he will call two finals games: April 8th vs Chicago, and April 9th at Anaheim.  That gives him and the Kings fans a final chance to say goodbye.

Miller’s retirement is the end of an era of great broadcasting in Los Angeles.  For nearly half a century, LA got to listen to three Hall of Fame announcers: Vin Scully, Chick Hearn, and Miller.  Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille summed it up best: “No one will ever replace Bob, just like you can’t replace the great people that worked for the Dodgers and the Lakers. He’s at that same level.”

Kings Get Burned By

Flames In OT

February 28th, 2017

The Kings overtime luck is finally running out, and it’s happening at the worst time.  For the 2nd night in a row, LA lost in OT.  This time, it was a critical 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames.

TJ Brodie got loose on a breakaway just 1:47 into overtime, as the Flames spoiled goaltender Ben Bishop’s debut as a King.  Brodie got behind the LA defense, and received a long pass from Mikael Backlund before making a nice move to beat Bishop.  It was Brodie’s 5th goal of the season.

Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Kings were 10-2 in overtime games this season, and over the last two years had been the best team in the NHL in the extra session.   Despite LA’s offensive struggles the last few years, they have been excellent since the NHL implemented 3-on-3 during overtime.

Tanner Pearson scored the Kings only goal of the game, knocking in a power play goal at the 8:42 mark of the 1st period.  It was Pearson’s 21st of the season, and had to be reviewed by the officials to be sure that it had crossed the goal line before the whistle blew.

The Flames would tie things up in the 2nd period, when Michael Ferland slapped in a pass from Mark Giordano.  Ferland took advantage of the fact that Kings defenseman, Jake Muzzin, had fallen down on the play, which allowed him to get open in front of the LA net.

Ben Bishop was spectacular in his Kings debut, stopping 28 shots, including several big saves in the 2nd period.  As many feared though, Bishop was unable to help LA’s struggling offense.

Although the Kings did salvage a point in the standings, they remained 1 point behind St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.  With the win, Calgary has now opened up a 6 point lead on the Kings.  The teams will meet three more times before the season is over, with two of them in Calgary.

It’s going to be an interesting next two days for the Kings before they begin a 7 game home stand on Thursday against Toronto.  Wednesday at 12 pm PST is the trade deadline.  It’s the last chance for Dean Lombardi to try and bring in some more help offensively before the season is over.  Then on Thursday, Kings play-by-play announcer Bob Miller will be holding a press conference regarding his future.  Miller has been home recuperating from a stroke he suffered in late January, and is expected to announce his retirement.

Minnesota Goes

Wild Against Kings

February 27th, 2017

Only the Kings could score 4 goals in a game and find a way to lose a game they desperately needed.  Only the Kings could manage to have the lead 4 times in a game, yet manage to lose in OT.  Sure enough, that’s how it went down, as the Kings lost to Minnesota 5-4 in overtime on Monday night in St. Paul.

Mikael Granlund surprised the Kings with his speed 12 seconds into overtime, and wrapped a shot around Jonathan Quick to give the Wild the victory.  It was Granlund’s 20th goal of the season, which gave the Wild their 15th comeback win of the season.

The Kings got goals from Nick Shore, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin, and Marian Gaborik in regulation.  However, the Wild answered each goal, one by one.  It was Jason Zucker’s spinning wrist shot midway through the 3rd period that tied the game.  Minnesota also got goals from Nino Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder, and Ryan White.  White, along with Martin Hanzal, were playing their first game for the team after being acquired Sunday in a trade with Arizona.

Marian Gaborik responded nicely for the Kings, after being a healthy scratch in the teams’ previous game against Anaheim.  Gaborik had a goal and an assist, and was using his speed to create numerous opportunities for LA throughout the game.

Jonathan Quick stopped 30 of 35 shots, and although he made some big saves, he wasn’t quite a sharp as he was on Saturday against Anaheim.

The Kings already added one significant piece to their team before Wednesday’s trade deadline, acquiring Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop.  The move seems unusual with Jonathan Quick healthy again, but General Manager Dean Lombardi assured everyone that Bishop will see some playing time as Quick regains his form.  “You’re never sure how well a guy who’s been out this long, is he going to have his ‘A’ game?,” he said. “This is not an insurance policy. [Bishop] needs to play.”

Even more surprising was Lombardi’s insistence that the team is unlikely to add any more offensive help between now and Wednesday.  “The focus has to be on the players we have producing up to their capability. And then we can look at additions.”

The Kings managed to salvage a point in the standings, despite the loss.  Tuesday night they’ll be facing an even more critical game on the road at Calgary.  The Kings are 2 points behind St Louis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and now 5 points behind The Flames.   That will be the first of 4 more meetings between the Kings and Flames this season.

Quick Returns &

Kings Rally

February 25th, 2017

For the first time in 59 games, Jonathan Quick was back in goal for the LA Kings.  He looked as sharp as he usually is, despite missing nearly the entire season with a groin injury.  Quick made 32 saves as the Kings got a much needed 3-2 win against the Ducks at Staples Center.

Quick was excellent throughout, making several big saves in the 1st period.  However, the Ducks still managed to get one by the Kings goaltender late in the 1st.  Andrew Cogliano tipped in a pass from Ryan Kessler for his 14th of the season, and Anaheim was in control at the 1st intermission.

Neither team scored in the 2nd period, and despite Quick’s efforts, it looked like another game where the Kings offense was going to come up empty.

Then in the 3rd period the Kings rallied.  Tyler Toffoli put LA on the board 3:37 into the period after poking the puck past a sprawling Jonathan Bernier.  Bernier was unable to cover the puck during a big scramble in front of the Ducks net.  A little over 4 minutes later, it was Toffoli again, scoring his 12th after tipping in a pass from Jeff Carter on a 2-on-1.  17 seconds later, Dustin Brown re-directed a shot by Kevin Gravel, which made it 3-1 Kings.

The Ducks would pressure the Kings in the final 12 minutes, but Quick continued to turn back Anaheim.  Finally, after the Ducks pulled their goaltender for the extra-attacker in the final two minutes, Jeff Carter scored his 30th goal of the season on an empty-netter.  Carter took a pass from Anze Kopitar, who picked up his 2nd assist of the game on the play.

The game was physical throughout, which is usually the case when these two cross-town rivals get together.  Things got especially chippy in the 2nd period, when a 10-man dog pile lead to a fight between Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb and Ducks Center Nate Thompson.  Later in the period, Jeff Carter and Ryan Kessler squared off, with Kessler landing a big blow to the face of the Kings leading scorer.  A fight involving either of those two skilled players is rare, but the blow may have woken the Kings up from their slump.

Patrick Eaves made his debut for the Ducks after being acquired from Dallas for a conditional second-round draft pick Friday. Slotted on a line with Corey Perryand Rickard Rakell, Eaves played 16:09.

For the Kings, Coach Darryl Sutter won his 216th game with LA, passing Andy Murray for most in franchise history.  Sutter also scratched right wing Marian Gaborik for just the second time this season, after Gaborik had failed to score a point in the last 9 games.  Gaborik was replace in the lineup by forward Jordan Nolan, who was activated from injured reserve after missing the last 9 games with a lower-body injury.

The win tied the season series between the Kings and Ducks at 2-2.  More importantly though, it kept the Kings in the playoff race.  LA now trails Nashville by 3 points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and they are 4 points behind division rival Calgary.  The Kings will face the Flames on Tuesday night in Calgary, which will be the 2nd night of a back-to-back after playing at Minnesota on Monday.

As for the Ducks, they will now have their bye week, and do not play again until March 3rd against Toronto.  Anaheim is still tied for 2nd place in the Pacific Division with Edmonton, and only 3 points behind San Jose for 1st place.

Kings Still Can’t

Find Their Game


February 23rd, 2017

The Kings are still trending in the wrong direction.  The Bruins came in to Staples Center on Thursday night and defeated the Kings 4-1, handing LA their 6th loss in their last 8 games.

LA is now 4 points behind Calgary for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 22 games left to play.  The Kings have two games in hand on Calgary, but it feels like they’ve been using that excuse to feel better about themselves for a few months now.

The Bruins scored four minutes into the game off a turnover from Jake Muzzin, which led to a 2-on-1.  Brad Marchand streaked down the right wing and beat Peter Budaj with a wrist shot on the short side.  The Kings answered with a goal from defenseman Kevin Gravel, the first of his NHL career, in the final two minutes of the 1st period.  Gravel’s goal was set up nicely by rookie Adrian Kempe, who collected his 2nd NHL point on the play.

Boston would answer in the 2nd period on a goal by David Pastrnak, who broke a tie with a power play goal five minutes into the period.  Patrnak broke his stick on a one-timer from the left side, which fluttered past Peter Budaj.  The Kings pressed in the final 90 seconds of the game, pulling Budaj for the extra attacker.  However, the Bruins would score two empty-net goals, which came from Dominic Moore and David Krejci, in the final 65 seconds.

Jeff Carter knows the Kings need to score more goals to get it done.  “We didn’t have it tonight,” Carter lamented. “You’ve got to score goals to win. There were games … where we weren’t good enough to win.  And games where we were good enough but we didn’t score enough goals.”

As well as Peter Budaj has played this season, the Kings style requires elite goaltending to win.  They may get it from Jonathan Quick before the season is over, but that looks like it’s about two weeks away.  The Kings need to win now, or else the playoff race will be over by the time Quick comes back.  That also means LA needs to get more offensive production from its veteran leaders.

LA is allowing the fewest shots per game in the NHL, and the 5th fewest goals per game.  However, only 7 teams have scored fewer goals than the Kings, and their power play is just 23rd in the league.  It seems like the Kings hit a handful of goal posts every game, but they need to find a way to finish, or else their season will be finished soon.

Help doesn’t seem like it’s on the way either.  General Manager Dean Lombardi said he doesn’t expect the team to make any big moves before the March 1st trade deadline.  On one hand, the Kings control their own destiny, with 14 of their last 22 games at home, and 4 games against Calgary.  Still, it’s hard to have any confidence that the Kings are going to make the playoffs given how they’ve played.

Kings Snap Skid

February 21st, 2017

It took playing the worst team in the league, but the Kings final got back in the win column.  Trevor Lewis scored the game-winning goal midway through the 2nd period, and Peter Budaj made 24 saves as the Kings beat the Avalanche 2-1 in Denver.  The win also moved Kings coach Darryl Sutter into a tie for the most wins as coach of the Kings.

The win was the 215th win for Sutter, which tied former Kings coach Andy Murray for the most in franchise history.  More importantly, the win snapped a three-game losing skid, and kept the Kings in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.  LA remains two points behind the Calgary Flames for the final playoff spot in the West.  The Flames defeated Nashville in overtime on Tuesday night.

After a scoreless first period, the Kings fell behind on a goal by Mikko Rantanen, who stole the puck from Drew Doughty at the LA blue line.  That goal came just 32 seconds in the period.  However, Tyler Toffoli scored his 10th goal of the season a few minutes later while crashing the net.  Kings rookie Adrian Kempe picked up his first career NHL point on the play with an assist.

About six minutes later, Lewis tucked the puck past Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard and the near post.  Budaj did an excellent job after that.  He stopped 11 shots in the third period, which might have been in his best performance in a couple of weeks.

Budaj is well aware of where the Kings are in the standings.  “You seen the standings?” he said. “The standings are tight. And we need every point we can get.  It’s just a big game for us.”

“We need to win some games and kind of get a streak going so we can get in the playoffs here,” Tyler Toffoli acknowledged.

The Kings return home on Wednesday to take on the Boston Bruins.  They’ll get another crack at the Ducks on Saturday as well before another short road trip.

Ducks Shut Down

Kings


February 19th, 2017

The Kings continued their struggle to score, and the Ducks got 2 big points against their cross-town rival with a 1-0 win against LA on Sunday night in Anaheim.

Josh Manson scored his second goal of the season and Jonathan Gibson made 24 saves for his 10th career shutout.  Anaheim has now won two of the three games this season against LA, and moved back into a tie for 2nd place in the Pacific Division.

In seasons past, the Kings have been known to win these tight checking close games.  LA played a very physical game, however, Anaheim countered with a persistent forecheck which ultimately set up the only goal of the game.  The Ducks know they need to play that style to win in the postseason, something that has eluded them for a while.

“We just showed how we can play,” Gibson said. “This time of the season, that’s the way it is going to be. Going into the playoffs, towards the end of the year, every game is going to be tight. There’s not much room for error, so (you’ve) got to be pretty good.”

The Kings still had their chances.  Trevor Lewis looked like he was going to tie the game for Los Angeles in the final 30 seconds of the second period. The puck careened off the boards and behind Gibson, who was out at the top of his crease, but Lewis somehow put it wide of the open net.

Then Adrian Kempe then hit the outside of the post off a rebound late in the third period, and the Kings did nothing on a subsequent power play for too many men on the ice.

The Kings remain two points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.  Drew Doughty doesn’t seem worried, but knows time is running out.  “We’re still fully confident we can turn it on now and get back into that playoff spot we want to be in,” Doughty said. “The longer we wait, the harder it’s going to be.”

LA will try to get back in the win column on Tuesday at Colorado.  As for the Ducks, they’ll take on the Coyotes tomorrow night in Phoenix.

Panthers Complete SoCal Sweep With 3-2 Win Over Kings

February 19th, 2017
The Kings are running out of time to get their act together, and let another opportunity slip by them Saturday night at Staples Center. The Florida Panthers started fast, then held on for a 3-2 win against the Kings.Aleksander Barkov scored the game-winning goal 15 seconds into the third period, and Roberto Luongo made 33 saves, as the Panthers won their 4th straight game. It was also Florida’s 2nd win in a row in SoCal after beating the Ducks one night earlier.The Panthers jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Jonathan Huberdeau beat Peter Budaj with a wrist shot, while the Panthers had a 6 on 5 advantage, as a delayed penalty was going to be called against the Kings’ Marian Gaborik for tripping. Jussi Jokinen made it 2-0 in the second period, taking advantage of a Kings defense breakdown, and beating Budaj from the top of the slot.The Kings responded with two goals over the next six minutes, starting with Dwight King knocking the puck into the net during a scramble in front of Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo. The Panthers challenge the goal, claiming that Kings forward Nick Shore interfered with Luongo, but officials let the goal stand after a review.Tanner Pearson tied the game with 8 minutes left in the second period, scoring his fourth goal in the last three games. However, Barkov put the Panthers ahead for good in the third period, as he redirected the puck into the net while stumbling near the goal line.“We chased the lead again,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. “You don’t want to be doing that all the time. It doesn’t work very well in this league. It’s nice to come back and tie the game. But then it’s not a great goal to start the third period.”The Kings have now lost two in a row, four of their last five games. LA has just 25 games left, and remains two points behind the Calgary Flames for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.They’ll have a big game against the Ducks on Sunday night in Anaheim, where they hope to try and turn things around.

Coyote Ugly: Kings lose to Arizona

February 16th, 2017

The Kings resumed play on Thursday, after their bye week, but you never would have been able to tell that they showed up in their 5-3 loss vs Arizona.

LA fell behind early, and just when you thought they were going to get it going, their goaltending let them down repeatedly.  When it wasn’t that, it was the officiating letting them down as well.  When it was over, the Kings were 1 point out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Kings fell behind 2-0 in the first five minutes on goals by Brendan Perlini and Tobias Reider.  Tanner Pearson tried to rally the Kings with two third period goals, along with one from Dustin Brown, but Perlini added another, while Jordan Martinook scored a pair of his own to give the Coyotes the win.

After Brown pulled the Kings to within a goal at 3-2, Martinook scored from just outside the right circle on a wrist shot that beat Peter Budaj on the short side.  It was definitely a goal that Budaj wishes he would have had back, as were several other ones on the night.

Adrian Kempe made his NHL debut for LA after being called up from the minor leagues, but it looked as though it was the rest of the team that was sent back to the AHL with the way they played.

The officiating didn’t help LA either.  It appeared as though Tyler Toffoli had brought the Kings back to within a goal at 4-3, but officials ruled that they had lost sight of the puck and blown the whistle just before Toffoli poked the puck past Coyotes Goaltender, Mike Smith.

The Kings outshot the Coyotes 44-22, but Smith was spectacular, making 41 saves.  Two of those saves included robbing Anze Kopitar right in front of the net.  It was a struggle for Budaj on the other hand, who made 17 saves, but couldn’t seem to make the important stops.

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter wasn’t all that thrilled with the goaltending either.  “When we lose you’re going to ask how our goalie played.  Peter would like to have 3 of the 4 goals back.”

One of the few bright spots for LA was Jeff Carter.  His assist on Tanner Pearsons’s goal early in the third period was the 300th of his NHL career.  Carter is receiving Hart Trophy consideration for his play this season.

The Kings will continue their brief home stand on Saturday against the Florida Panthers, before heading up to Anaheim on Sunday to take on the Ducks.

Kings Trade Gilbert & Call Up Kempe

February 15th, 2017

The Kings are in the midst of a bye week, but have been busy on the transaction front.  They traded defenseman Tom Gilbert to Washington in exchange for a conditional 5th round draft choice in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Gilbert is 34 years old, and was signed during the offseason to add defensive depth and experience for the Kings.  However, the emergence of young players like Derek Forbort, Brayden McNabb, and Kevin Gravel made him expendable.  Gilbert has played just 13 minutes since December 22nd.

The Kings also recalled forward Adrian Kempe from their Ontario AHL affiliate.  Kempe, 20, is considered one of the more skilled prospects in the Kings system.  He has scored 11 goals and 19 points in 43 games this season with the Reign.

Kempe will take the roster spot of forward Devin Setoguchi, who was reassigned to Ontario.  Setoguchi has scored 4 goals and 12 points in 45 games for LA this season.

The Kings are currently holding the final playoff spot in the Western Conference heading into tomorrow night’s matchup against the Arizona Coyotes.  However, LA is just 24th in the league in goals scored.

Kings Extend Brown

Dustin Brown celebrates

July 18th, 2013

The Kings have secured another cornerstone of their franchise for nearly the next decade.  On Thursday, LA extended captain Dustin Brown’s contract for 8 years, worth a total of $47 million.  Although most of you were told there would be no math here at Jock Talk LA, that equals a very reasonable cap hit of $5.875 million per season.

Brown was so eager to remain with the franchise that drafted him 10 years ago, that he even negotiated his own deal.  On a conference call, he explained that “going into this, I did my homework and did comparisons and received help from the (NHL) Players’ Association on some numbers and stats.”  He’s also well aware that he may have taken less money in order to be a part of a winning team.

“I realized in a cap era that there’s only so much money to go around, and with the cap going down this year and not having that certainty what it will be next year, there’s an opportunity to keep this team together.  That was part of my decision in wanting to stay because I believe we have a chance to win.”

The 28 year old Brown has scored 181 goals and 388 points over his 641 career games.  Over those 9 seasons, he’s also appeared in 50 playoff games, and totaled 31 post season points.  In 2012, he led the Kings to the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup championship, and he piled up 20 points over that 20 game post season run.

This past season, Brown scored 18 goals and 29 points in 46 games.  He also helped the Kings reach the Western Conference Finals before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Brown is the 9th Kings player locked up to a long term deal by General Manager Dean Lombardi.  The others include Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar, and more recently Slava Voynov.

Despite losing a few minor role players such as Dustin Penner and Rob Scuderi this off-season, the Kings still have a team that should be able to contend for Stanley Cups the next several years.

The Kings also made several other moves, naming former Norris Trophy Winning defenseman Rob Blake assistant general manager after Ron Hextall joined the Flyers.  The also acquired forward Daniel Carcillo from the Blackhawks in exchange for a conditional draft pick in 2015.

Jonathan Bernier Traded To Toronto

Bernier Image

June 23rd, 2013

The Kings have finally granted Jonathan Bernier his wish: a chance to be a number 1 goaltender in the NHL.  LA traded Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, in exchange for forward Matt Frattin, goaltender Ben Scrivens, a 2nd round pick, and $500,000 cash.

Most Kings fans are sad to see Bernier go, but knew this day was coming.  The Kings have arguably the best goaltender in the NHL in Jonathan Quick, so having a quality backup like Bernier was a great luxury.  Last summer, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi promised Bernier that he would be traded by either the 2013 trade deadline or the upcoming NHL draft.  Lombardi obliged.  Now, Toronto may be luckier than a lottery winner with the acquisition of a potentially elite goaltender.

In return, the Kings got a speedy 3rd line right winger in Frattin, who scored 7 goals and 13 points in 25 games for the Leafs this season.  He’s been in the league 2 full seasons, and carried a cap hit of just $925,000.   Scrivens was the backup for the Leafs this past season, and was 7-9 with a 2.69 GAA, to go along with a .915 save percentage.  His cap hit is only $625,000, and with the Leafs throwing in $500,000, that covers nearly a 1/3rd of the Kings cap hit.  In other words, Dean Lombardi should be arrested for shop lifting.  As for the draft picks, the Leafs will get to chose between either giving the Kings a 2nd round pick in 2014, or in 2015.

Lombardi and the Kings will now turn their attention to re-signing free agent defenseman Rob Scuderi.  In a conference call, Lombardi explained that dialogue has been ongoing for the last several weeks with Scuderi’s camp.   However, he acknowledged that with the salary cap coming down, he will have to fit in at a reasonable price.

Voynov Agrees To Deal

slava-voynov

June 19th, 2013

The Kings took care of one of their biggest off-season priorities on Tuesday.  They re-signed defenseman Slava Voynov to a 6 year $25 million contract.  I know most of you were told there would be no math here at Jock Talk LA, however, that results in a very reasonable $4.1 million cap hit over the next 6 years.

Voynov is a 23 year old native of Russia, and is emerging as one of the best young defenseman in the league.  He had 6 goals, 19 assists, and was a +5  in the shortened 48 games season this year.  He also  led the Kings with 6 goals and 13 points during this year’s playoff run.  Voynov set Kings playoff records this year for most goals scored by a defenseman in one year, and most game winning goals in one year.

Interestingly enough, in 6 years from now, both Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov’s contract will expire at the same time.  Most Kings fans should be experiencing a heart attack at that point.  Still, the Kings salary cap issues this off-season pale in comparison to many other teams.  The club currently has $56.7 million committed to 15 players for next season, which still leaves some room under the $64 million salary cap.  Dean Lombardi’s next challenge will be trying to re-sign veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi, who has been a key cog for LA’s defense.  The Kings also have 6 restricted free agents who will be due raises, along with unrestricted free agents Dustin Penner and Brad Richardson as well.

Lombardi is also shopping backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who has expressed a desire to be a number one goaltender for another team.  There are currently about 10 teams who are interested according to ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun.  One of those teams is the Flyers, who have been a frequent trade partner with the Kings.

The Kings don’t need to waste their time adding any players that are old, underachieving, or that just aren’t worth a crap anymore like Jerome Iginla, Brad Richards, or Daniel Briere.  They simply need to try their best to retain as much of their current team as possible. If they can bring back Scuderi on a reasonable deal, they will maintain the strength of their team, which is defense and goaltending.  That is what wins championships.

Noooooo!!!!

Daryl Sutter

June 7th, 2013

Where the hell was Anze Kopitar?  Where the hell was captain Dustin Brown?  This would be an excellent time for you guys to show up and start contributing offensively!  For all intents and purposes, the Kings season is over.  The Kings lost to Chicago 3-2 in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at Staples Center, and are now down 3-1 in the best of 7 series.

Most Kings fans seem to be blaming Tia Toscano for not singing the national anthem.  Tia gets some of the blame, but I think most starts with Kopitar and Brown.  When this is all over, we better find out that these guys were hurt because they’ve played like garbage.  Jonathan Quick has to be flawless to make up for the crap these guys are pulling.  Quick made some stellar saves in game 4, but allowed one soft goal to Bryan Bickell early in the game, which got the Blackhawks going.

Did anyone listen to what I had to say after game 3? I said a critical factor in the rest of the series was which duo could pull their game out of the crapper first: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, or Kopitar and Brown.  Obviously it was Kane and Toews who pulled it together in game 4, which is why the Kings are almost ready to start booking tee times.  Kopitar has been exiled to the third line, and you wouldn’t even be able to tell he’s even in the lineup.  Dustin Brown has remained on the 1st line, but you also wouldn’t know he’s there.  The Kings are already without an injured Mike Richards, and they might as well be playing without Brown and Kopitar at this point.

Despite Kopitar and Brown’s invisibility, the Kings had plenty of chances to win game 4.  They had a one goal lead twice, but Just Williams failed to put the game away on his breakaway, and the Kings couldn’t score on the powerplay in the 3rd when their season depended on it.  Who the hell has been calling the Kings line changes the last two games anyway?  Vinny Del Negro?  The Kings made a terrible line change early in the 3rd and the Hawks scored the game winner as a result.  They made the same mistake in game 3, and could have been burned again if it hadn’t been for an offside call.

What the hell was Daryl Evans wearing on the Kings post game show last night?  It was some kind of a velvet suit with a strange floral pattern on it.  Evans must be shopping with Dwayne Wade these days.

Also, screw you Tim Leiweke! In an interview with a local Toronto TV station, he was asked about how he felt about Leafs fans.  He said:

“We didn’t have that in L.A. and we won the Stanley Cup. We finally saw it at the end. It took us getting to the finals in order to awaken that town. It’s not a hockey town.”

“You had more built up passion for this hockey team (Toronto) and that organization on an AWAY playoff game than we EVER did, INCLUDING winning the Stanley Cup, Game 6, Home Ice at Staples Center.”

Tim, for decades Kings fans have come out to Staples Center  to see the piece of shit teams that you helped put on the ice.  We paid your ridiculous ticket prices to build your precious LA Live, and help finance a football stadium for a team that you were unable to acquire.  LA may not be a hockey town, but it’s got plenty of passionate hockey fans that have been showing up to games forever.  Also, thanks for giving Gretzky away for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Have fun north of the border in America Jr you lying sack of crap!
Finally, memo to Fred Roggin of NBC:  Why haven’t you displayed my awesome picture on the 11:00 pm news?  You said you wanted to show great pictures of Kings fans, and I know my picture below is better than most of the pictures you’ve shown!
IMG_0725

 

Blackhawk Down

Brown checks Oduya

June 5th, 2013

Another close call, but the Kings came up with another win at home.  The Kings jumped out to a 2-0 lead agains the Blackhawks in game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, and held on for dear life in the final minutes before adding an empty net goal, securing the 3-1 victory.  Justin Williams came up big again, scoring the first goal of the game, which was his 4th goal in the last 4 games.  Williams said “I don’t think we were too uptight at all.  We knew what we had to do, plain and simple.  We’ve been here before, and we used that to help us tonight.”  Really?  because I was practically peeing in my pants, just knowing you had to win this game!

Jonathan Quick should be arrested for robbing Bryan Bickell of a goal late in the 3rd period.  Quick somehow came up with a save from point blank range with the inside of his blocker.  As I predicted, Quick rebounded from his subpar performance in game 2, by playing a spectacular game 3.  Meanwhile, Slava Voynov’s agent could hear the cash registers ringing after scoring the game winning goal in the 2nd period.  Voynov now has 5 goals in the playoffs, which is a record for Kings defenseman in the playoffs.  He’s a restricted free agent this off-season, and the Kings will have to find a way to lock him up long term.

I expect Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith to be suspended for the next two games after high-sticking Jeff Carter.  If he isn’t, Kings fan should be lining up with pitch forks and tiki torches outside of Brendan Shanahan’s office.  Keith is a repeat offender, and we’ve already seen incidents like this where Shanahan suspended first time offenders for two games.  Keith appeared to be sorry for the incident, but he should still be punished regardless of the intent.

Speaking of being sorry, Anze Kopitar needs to send Daryl Sutter an apology of some kind to get out of his coaches dog house.  Kopitar was demoted to the third line after continuing his scoring struggles.   His play last night wasn’t bad, but he needs to score goals if the Kings hope to win this series.

The Kings did a great job of imposing their style of play on the Blackhawks.  LA made sure Chicago couldn’t build up speed through the neutral zone as they did in the first two games, and their defense was tighter than a Beyonce jumpsuit.  They also knocked the Hawks around, outhitting them 36-26.  The Kings aren’t back in the series yet, but if they bring the same effort to the table Thursday, I like their chances of tying this series up.

 

Kings vs Blackhawks: How They Really Matchup

kings v Hawks image

May 31st, 2013

Most of the previews I’ve seen for the Kings and Blackhawks take a look at the regular season numbers, and how the teams did in the three match ups against each other.  At the risk of stating the obvious, this isn’t the regular season!  It’s not always who you play, but when you play them.   During the regular season the Hawks won 2 of the 3 games, but that’s about as relevant today as an eight-track player.  Vegas lists the Hawks as slight favorites, but let’s take a closer look.

 

Forwards:    The Blackhawks forwards are loaded with talent.  The combination of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, and Brandon Saad is among the best in the NHL.  Their speed and skill will be a challenge for the Kings to defend.  Those 5 forwards have combined to score 15 goals in the post season thus far, but appeared to have some trouble with the Red Wings feisty defense in the last round.  The Kings combination of Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, and Mike Richards has scored a total of just 9 goals throughout the playoffs.  They don’t quite have the explosive speed of the Hawks, but they have provided timely scoring throughout the playoffs.

Advantage: Blackhawks

Defense:  Both teams have a very versatile group of defenseman.  The Hawks Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are skilled puck movers that can create offense on the rush.  Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson have also helped stabilize a Chicago defense that has allowed the 2nd fewest goals in this years playoffs.    However, the Kings have allowed the fewest goals of any team in this years playoffs.  Drew Doughty is one of the top 5 defenseman in the world, capable of playing in any situation.  Slava Voynov is starting to emerge as one of the league’s top defenseman, Matt Greene and Robyn Regehr have been punishing opposing forwards, and Rob Scuderi is always solid.  Although the Chicago defense has been reliable, the Kings depth and physicality at this position give them a slight edge.

Advantage: Kings

Goaltending:  Corey Crawford has been solid through the first two rounds of the playoffs with a 1.70 goals against average and a .938 save percentage.  Crawford let’s in an occasional soft goal, but benefits quite a bit from Chicago’s excellent puck possession game.  He is opposed by the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy Winner, and arguably the best goaltender in the world, Jonathan Quick.  Quick leads all playoff goaltenders in goal against average, save percentage, shutouts,  and appears to be playing even better than last year.  The Kings can only hope that Quick can post a shutout or two in Chicago, so they won’t have to hear that dumb ass song they play in the United Center every time the Hawks score a goal.

Advantage: Kings

Special Teams: The Blackhawks powerplay was ranked 19th in the NHL this season, and 10th in the postseason.  Their powerplay has been the most ineffective of all the teams remaining in the postseason.  This can likely be blamed on special teams coach Jamie Kompon, who was with LA last year, and nearly crapped all over their success.  The Blackhawks have been the best penalty killing team in the playoffs, while the Kings have been the 5th best penalty killing group.  LA’s powerplay has been effective, and ranks 6th in the playoffs.

Advantage: Blackhawks

Prediction: The Blackhawks have incredible offensive firepower, and a solid defensive core that will present a challenge for LA.  However, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have had some trouble scoring in the playoffs, and it won’t get any easier against the Kings stingy defense and elite goaltending.  There is something to be said for playing a gritty and tough style in the playoffs, as opposed to simply being a finesse team.  The Hawks peaked in the regular season, the Kings are starting to peak now, and goaltending is the great equalizer in the NHL.  Kings in 6.

Take That Nor Cal!

Sharks Shucks

May 29th, 2013

It took a full 60 minutes.  It took Jonathan Quick playing out of his mind.  It took Justin Williams’ heroics.  And it took Dustin Penner’s dirty work.   It took all of that for the Kings to leave Staples Center on Tuesday Night with a 2-1 victory in game 7 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals vs San Jose, which earned them a trip to the Western Conference Finals.

After a first period that was more conservative than the Republican National Convention, Justin Williams gave the Kings a big boost in the 2nd period with two quick goals in less than three minutes.  Williams hadn’t scored in his last 8 playoff games, but now has 5 goals and 9 points in 4 career game 7’s.  Jonathan Quick slammed the door on the Sharks after that.  San Jose mounted an attack in the third period that was more relentless than my crazy ex-girlfriend in Chicago, but Quick stood his ground time and time again.

When Sharks forward Joe Pavelski appeared to have an open net with about 5 minutes left, the entire building thought the game was about to be tied.  Somehow, Quick kept the puck out of the net, leaving everyone astonished.  He made another phenomenal glove save on Logan Couture with 1:20 left in the game as well.  It’s amazing that Quick is playing even better hockey this spring than last year’s Conn Smythe winning performance.

I like how Dustin Penner has slept through the last two regular seasons, then really earned his paycheck in the playoffs.  Penner threw his weight around all night, and was a big part of the Kings out hitting the sharks 39-30.

The Sharks were tough, and so was their goalie Anti Niemi, but Jonathan Quick was better.  I love the Shark fan that called the Kings post game show and claimed that losing Raffi Torres was the difference in this series.  That fan conveniently forgot that Torres suspension caused the Kings to lose Jarrett Stoll for the entire series, who is far more valuable to the Kings than Torres is to San Jose.

The bottom line is that once again, the Sharks top players flopped harder than Lebron James did against David West last night.  The Kings combo of Kopitar, Brown, Williams, Carter, and Richards scored 9 goals in the series.  The Sharks combo of Thornton, Marleau, Couture, Burns, and Pavelski scored just 5 goals in the series.   To win big in the playoffs, your best guys have to play well, and you have to have the goaltending.  The Kings edged the Sharks in both of those areas.

So who do the Kings want to play next? Conventional wisdom says the Kings should want the Red Wings because they get home ice advantage, and because they’ve won 14 in a row at home, but take a closer look kids.  Goaltending is always critical, and there is a much better chance that Quick will outplay Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, as opposed to the upstart and talented Jimmy Howard of the Red Wings.  Quick and Howard will likely be battling it out next winter for the starting spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

The Sharks had the best home record in the league this season, so home ice was critical in that series.  However, the Kings are one of the few teams in the league who have beaten the Blackhawks in Chicago this year.  Chicago peaked early, while the Red Wings appear to be peaking now.  Both teams fans are annoying as hell and you’ll have to put up with their ugly mugs at Staples Center.  Bring on the Blackhawks!

This year’s playoff run has been much tougher for the Kings than last year.  LA went 16-4 on their way to the cup, and lost only once in the first two rounds in 2012.  This year, they’ve already played 13 games in the first two rounds, and the team badly needs rest over the next few days.  The Kings know they can play better, but they seem resigned to the fact each and every game the rest of the way will be a grind.  With Quick in goal the Kings will always have a chance, and as long as the Kings top 6 continue to come through, you have to like their chances to repeat.  Meanwhile, the Sharks playoff hopes are shattered once again.  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Nor Cal!

Jumping The Shark

quickshark

May 17th, 2013

Holy Toffoli!  Two goals in 23 seconds and the Kings shocked the Sharks at Staples Center on Thursday night to take a 2-0 series lead.  As usual, Jonathan Quick was amazing, except I’m beginning to think the Kings players think they can go into a coma for long stretches because of his greatness.

Speaking of coma’s, I thought Anze Kopitar was going to go into one when he got hit in the face with the puck in the 3rd period.  After Kopitar left, the Kings were without 2 of their top 3 centers, and you could tell.  The Sharks won 44 faceoffs to the Kings 21, and they outshot the Kings by a wide margin until the last few minutes of the 3rd period.  I also take back half of those bad things I said about Jake Muzzin, who is playing some better defense.

This game was phenomenal, but the finish wasn’t better than the Miracle on Manchester in 1982, or the Frenzy on Figueroa in 2000.  Both of those comebacks had much greater deficits, and were at much more pivotal points in those playoff series than where we are now.  The Sharks have had plenty of playoff disasters over the years, but that collapse has to be right up near the top.  If these guys were a Canadian team, they might have their citizenships revoked by now.

That collapse serves them right for that cheap bull shit they pulled in the 2nd period when Vlasic faked an injury to draw a penalty on Carter, only to come back one shift later and score a goal to put the Sharks ahead.  Of course Shark fans are now crying because Raffi Torres is suspended for the rest of the series, and because they think they were wrongfully penalized for delay of game just before the Kings comeback.  At least Sharks Coach Todd McClellan wasn’t bitching too hard.  He admitted “When you get three, you better beat this team.”

Reality Check For Nor Cal

SharkChoke

 

May 15th, 2013

Don’t you just hate Nor Cal?  They might as well be a separate state as far as I’m concerned.  Apparently, mastering the concept of public transportation and considering themselves “cultured”, has made many of their fans delusional about their hockey team.  The Kings gave them a dose of reality last night with a 2-0 win in game 1 of their Western Conference semi final series against the Sharks.

Every year, we’ve heard about how talented the Sharks are, and how this is finally the year they break through to win the Cup.  The only cups these guys have drank out of are the champagne glasses on their annual plane ride home for the summer.  In round 1, San Jose swept a team that’s had even more playoff ineptitude than them, in Vancouver.  Last night, they looked like the same chokers who have been showing up in the playoffs the last 5 years.  Meanwhile, the Kings played a Blues team that might have actually come out of the Western Conference if they didn’t run into LA in the 1st round.

Jonathan Quick was phenomenal again.  He single handedly shut down the Sharks, and already looks like he is in their heads.  The Kings sat back for much of the game, waiting patiently, but imposed their will for about 25 minutes of the game, and that was all they needed.  The Kings were extremely composed throughout the entire game, unlike the dude sitting next to me in section 116.

Just one minute into the game, the guy starts bitching “Where is the forecheck??!!! Damn it Where is the forecheck!!!?? We’re screwed!!!”  This guy clearly had not taken his meds because San Jose hadn’t even taken a shot yet and he was already panicking.  This guy was clearly a fan for many years because he had an old 1990′s Kings jersey on, but oddly enough, winning a Stanley Cup last year hasn’t given the guy enough faith in the Kings, or prevent him from losing his mind.

Raffi Torres better be suspended for his cheap shot on Jarret Stoll.   The Kings can’t afford to lose their best face-off man for an extended period of time.  They nearly lost Drew Doughty on the same play, which would have been disastrous.

In the NHL playoffs, there is something to be said about having mental toughness and grittiness.  The Sharks have plenty of talent, but they have always lacked that type of toughness to get them over the top.  The Kings developed that part of their game last year when they won the cup, and have shown more of it the last 5 games.  They are built for the playoffs.  The Kings took the Sharks to six games two seasons ago without Anze Kopitar, and with a banged up Justin Williams, yet Shark fans seem to think they are going to take this series in 4 or 5 games from the defending cup champions.  Keep your mouth shut Nor Cal, and just keep sending us the water.

Hockey History Awaits

Voynov GW  Bonino Celebrates

May 9th, 2013

Just one win away from history.  My neighbors think I’m a lunatic from all the yelling and screaming I was doing last night after Slava Voynov scored the game winner.  They have obviously never witnessed playoff hockey, and have no idea what’s going on with the Kings and Ducks.

Jonathan Quick has been amazing.  He’s stopped 146 of 155 shots, and looks like the dude who carried the Kings last spring.  Drew Doughty is unbelievably valuable.  The guy just piles on the minutes, and is the backbone of the Kings defense. And who doesn’t love Justin Williams chasing down every loose puck??

Then there’s the resurrection of Kopitar and Carter.  Once those two scored in game 4, their entire game has returned to elite level.  Kopitar made not one, but two “Gretzky like” passes to set up two of the Kings three goals.  Carter hasn’t had much space to get off his lethal shot in this series, but he’s been finding ways to finish around the net.

Meanwhile, in Anaheim, the Ducks were locked up in another game with the Red Wings that was tighter than a Beyonce jump suit.  Poor Corey Perry.  The guy gets a wide open opportunity in the slot, and Jimmy Howard robs him.  Dude still can’t find the back of the net in the playoffs.  Good thing Bonino and Palmieri are stepping up.

Neither goaltender has been great in this series, but that’s been a much bigger problem for the Red Wings.  Howard was supposed to give the Wings an edge in this series, but he’s played more like Ron Howard.  The playoffs are all about grit and toughness, and the Ducks are getting it from guys like Bonino and Palmieri.

Now each team is just one win away from an epic showdown in the 2nd round of the playoffs, for the first time in the history of both franchises.  The Kings have won nine in a row at home, and will need to make it ten, or else they will have to go back to St. Louis for game 7.  I’ve said that home ice doesn’t matter in the playoffs, because the Kings should be able to win just one game away from home in a playoff series.  That’s only true if they win on Friday.

The Ducks need to go to Detroit, where they will need to avoid the distraction of hearing gun fire and crime in that crummy city.  Even though they have the luxury of playing a game 7 at home, home ice hasn’t meant much for either team in this series.  Take care of business fellas.  You’ve all got a date with destiny next week.

Missing Person Alert!!!!

Missing Kings Stars

May 3rd, 2013

Has anybody seen the person missing in the photo above?  His name is Anze Kopitar, and he was last seen on March 23rd, at the United Center against the Blackhawks.  At one point he resembled an all-star center, however, some witnesses are claiming they have seen someone that looks like him getting destroyed by David Backes this week in St. Louis.

Every year Kopitar goes into a goal scoring coma from around game 35 until game 60.  Unfortunately for the Kings, that coincides with this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs because of the lockout shortened season.  If the Kings have any hope of coming back in their 1st round series vs the Blues,, Kopitar needs to wake up from his coma a little earlier than usual.

The Kings have been getting dominated physically.  Coach Daryl Sutter insists that he is completely comfortable with Jake Muzzin and Keaton Ellerby, but those two defenseman have been completely rattled, and should be watching from the press box.  Matt Greene and Alec Martinez need to be inserted back into the lineup for these two kids immediately, or else the Kings will be making their plans for Cancun come Monday.

Meanwhile, what the hell were Trevor Lewis and Jarrett Stoll thinking  with under a minute left in the game?  Both of them got caught up ice, gambling to try to force a turnover.  In an instant, I felt like I was watching the LA Kings of the 1990′s, who were practically allergic to playing defense.

Then there’s Jonathan Quick.  Yes, he’s played like an elite goaltender over the last two games, but his miscue at the end of game 1, and his inability to come up with a save on Jackman’s routine shot turned out to be costly mistakes for the Kings.  In the Stanley Cup playoffs, you almost always have to have the best goaltender to win, and the Quick’s mistakes have come at the worst times.  Then again, the Kings aren’t leaving him much margin for error, since they haven’t even scored an even strength goal yet.

A Quick Turn of Events

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues

May 1st, 2013

The game looked like it was in the bag.  The Kings were on a 4 minute power play in sudden death overtime, and Jonathan Quick gave the puck away, and the game.  So the Kings are down 1-0 to the Blues in their best of seven 1st round series.  Did the Kings really deserve to win though?  Probably not.

No matter how much respect the Kings were saying they had for the Blues, they were well aware of the fact they have owned them for the past year, and had been beating them into the ground.  Daryl Sutter even said “a handful of guys” weren’t ready for the physical beating the Blues put on the Kings early.  I think he really meant that Jake Muzzin and Keaton Ellerby didn’t expect to get their asses kicked as badly as they did.  The Blues were obviously tired of the Kings pushing them around, and that’s why they dominated the first two periods of play.

So a fiercely determined Blues team gave the Kings their best shot, and it resulted in a 2-1 win for St. Louis in overtime, which they were fortunate to win.  Yes, the Kings could have devastated the Blues by stealing game 1.  But if this is the Blues best shot, the Kings can easily take this series.

Jonathan Quick made 40 saves, and looked pretty close to the guy who dominated last spring.  The only goal he gave up in regulation was a power play goal, in which he made a spectacular initial first save on.  Quick also showed us that he was mentally tough last spring, bouncing back from any soft goals he allowed and carried the Kings at key moments.  No reason to think he can’t bounce back here.

This isn’t to say the Kings don’t have anything to worry about.  They’ll need Matt Green’s physical presence back in the lineup, and they’ll have to get a much stronger forecheck going earlier in the game to wear down the Blues.  They’ll also need to get Kopitar and their other big guns going, but LA has far more talent up front than the Blues.  If the Kings come out and match the Blues physicality on Thursday night, no reason to think they can’t tie this series up before heading back to LA this weekend.

Kings Beef Up Blue Line With Regehr

Action Photo of Regehr

April 1st, 2013

The Kings have made a deal!  TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting that the Buffalo Sabres have traded defenseman Robyn Regehr to the Kings for two of 2nd round draft picks.  According to Kings GM Dean Lombardi, the deal is pending Regehr passing a physical.

This may not have been the splashy deal that some Kings fans were hoping for, but it adds some very important depth to their depleted defensive core.  Defenseman Matt Greene is still at least a month away from returning from a back injury, and Willie Mitchell remins out indefinitely after off-season knee surgery.

The 32 year old Regehr is a very physical, stay-at-home defenseman, who should also help improve the Kings 15th ranked penalty killing unit, down from 4th best in the league last season.  Regehr is earning a $4 million salary this season, and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

Although the 2nd round draft picks seems like a hefty price to pay, this was a much needed move for the Kings.  Jake Muzzin and Keaton Ellerby’s play have been a very pleasant surprises for the Kings thus far, but it’s unrealistic to expect such a high level of play from these inexperienced players when you get into the playoffs and start seeing quality opponents over a 7 game series.

Interestingly enough, with the acquisition of Regehr, the Kings are one player over the maximum roster size of 23, which means one player will have to be sent to Manchester, or another trade would have to be made.  Given the fact the Kings will not have a 1st round pick this year (Sent to Columbus in the Jeff Carter Trade), Dean Lombardi may even look to move Alec Martinez or Davis Drewiske for a pick or two.

Although some fans were hoping the team would add more fire power up front by acquiring a Jerome Iginla or Jaromir Jagr, the Kings aren’t in desperate need of offense, and the price for those veterans was enormous.  The Kings have scored the 6th most goals in the NHL this season, much improved from last season’s 29th place finish.

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