Why Not a Repeat?

Posted: January 16, 2013 by goaliesgetmorebetches in Los Angeles Kings

I’ve made my share of homer picks in my time as a fan and part time hockey blogger. During 2012′s incredible run, I picked the Kings in every round (always in more games than it took to win with the exception of the final) because I felt it was possible if not probable they’d win, but in an almost superstitious manner I was very careful not to say out loud “We’re gonna win the Cup!”. Those words didn’t come out of my mouth until after game 3 of the finals, a 4-0 Jonathan Quick shutout of the Devils that gave the Kings  3-0 lead in the series. Of course, they lost the next two games and made me – and a lot of other Kings’ fans – more than a little nervous before winning the the CUp in game 6 in dominant fashion 6-1.

Monday evening, the Kings aired a live practice on their local broadcast affiliate and Hall of Fame play by play man Bob Miller announced that the Kings are are the first Cup champion in NHL history to bring back every player who played in a Stanley Cup playoff game the following year. I don’t have any way of verifying this but if that’s the case, this team is something special.

It made me think… it took us 45 years to get a Cup in LA. Why not two now? The same team, same chemistry that was there last spring should still exist. Same uptempo style Daryl Sutter brought to an already rock solid defensive base and one of the leagues premier goaltenders. So why not?

Of course, there will be challenges. The Kings start 2013 without perhaps their best player, Anze Kopitar, who is recovering from a knee injury suffered while playing in Sweden during the NHL lockout. Defenseman Willie Mitchell, who played key minutes paired with rookie Slava Voynov and was instrumental in the Kings’ dominant postseason penalty kill, could miss up to a month after offseason knee surgery. All-world goalie Jonathan Quick was just cleared to play this week after undergoing back surgery during the offseason. But the Kings have depth at Center. Jeff Carter will slide in from the wing and fill in admirably for Kopitar at #1 center. Davis Drewiske or youngster Jake Muzzin can spell Willie Mitchell for a short period of time; and while Quick looks to be in game shape during camp, the Kings still have a blue chip backup in Jonathan Bernier – a guy good enough to start for probably 20 teams in the league. And if the lockout did any team a favor, it’s the guys who played into June. The Kings are well rested and ready for the puck to drop.

Another factor that can’t be overlooked: AEG CEO Tim Liewieke has said publicly that GM Dean Lombardi has permission to spend to the cap if the Kings have an opportunity to acquire a player or players that he feels can help ensure the Cup stays in LA.

So while it’s no guarantee, it’s fair to say the Kings have as good a chance, maybe better, than any Cup champion in the 15 years since Detroit won back to back titles, to repeat. The organization has indicated that anything less would be considered failure at this point. If you’ve been a fan as long as I have, that’s a HUGE shift in culture and attitude from within.

And this time, I’m not saying it out loud even a minute too early.

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(Photo: AP)

If you pay attention to most hockey media, you’re hearing names like Jonathan Toews and Henrik Lundqvist as mid season frontrunners for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s MVP. By definition, the Hart Trophy is to be awarded to “the player adjudged most valuable to his team”. While a strong argument could be made for the aforementioned Toews and Lundqvist, I can think of one guy who eclipses both in value to their team. Just one problem: Most hockey writers are in bed before his team plays their home games.

In my mind, it’d be difficult to say there’s anybody more valuable to their team than Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. At press time, the Kings sit just two points out of first place in their division (and 3rd overall in the West). Quick has posted 20 of the teams 23 wins, and sits in the top 5 in the NHL in goals against average (1.95), save percentage (.934), wins (20) and leads the entire league in shutouts with 6 – 3 of those coming consecutively back in October. And he’s done it all behind the lowest scoring team in the entire league.

Quick has given up 2 goals or less in 24 of his 39 starts. He hasn’t allowed more than 4 goals in a single game even once this season. He has 12 wins in games where the Kings have scored two goals or fewer. No goalie in the league is under more pressure to perform on a nightly basis.

He’s one of the league’s absolute best goalies, and at this point, probably the frontrunner to start in goal for the US at the 2014 Winter Olympics (provided NHL players are allowed to play).

It’s certainly possible, given their talent laden roster, that LA will increase their scoring before the season ends. Dean Lombardi has built a stable of young defenders that will carry high value on the trade market, and he will likely deal for a sniper on or before the trade deadline. That said, if the Kings meager offensive output continues and the team wins their division (highly possible if not likely), I don’t think that any other player in the league can be said to have been as valuable to his team.

Let’s just hope some of the hockey media decide to stay up and watch.

JS

New Web Address

Posted: December 6, 2011 by Crimespree Hockey in Uncategorized

Crimespree Hockey is now located at www.crimespreehockey.com! Come check us out there!

Looking around the league with…. no colored glasses:

- A very scary moment in the Detroit Red Wings game against The Nashville Predators last night, when a hard shot by Roman Josi caught Patrick Eaves in the side of the head. Eaves was stretchered out of the arena and taken to Detroit Medical Center where he is being treated for a fractured jaw. Hopefully he can have a quick recovery from this very scary incident. The Red Wings won the game 4-1, their 5th straight.

- 2 controversial moments in the game between Pittsbugh and Montreal when Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens hit Kris Letang in OT. This appears to be a head shot. In this guy’s opinion, it appears the head is the principal point of contact, now if it is intentionally aiming for the head, I cannot tell. I believe the hit was going to be shoulder to shoulder before Letang dropped his head for the shot. I do think Brendan Shanahan will definitely be looking at this one, as for a suspension…. I think he might, keyword “might” get a 1 game suspension, if not just a fine. Pittsburgh won 4-3 in OT, easily another controversial moment in the eyes of Habs fans, the referees seemed to fall asleep on that one, but alas, you do not stop playing until the whistle is blown.

- The New York Islanders continued their flip flopping fight with The Columbus Blue Jackets for bottom spot and 29th in the NHL, crawling back out of the basement with a 3-2 win over New Jersey (Thanks to Ilya Kovalchuk)

-The New York Rangers are having a great November so far, going 8-2, including last night’s shutout win against Philadelphia thanks to Henrik Lundqvist, who made 29 saves in the effort.

- Colorado busted their losing streak in a big way, scoring 5 against Edmonton, including a first goal of the season for Shane O’Brien and a first goal in the NHL for newcomer Stefan Elliot.

- Bye Bye Boudreau? The Capitals got slaughtered for the 2nd game in a row, this time 5-1 at the hands of the slumping Buffalo Sabres. The losses are starting to mount, you can bet the rumors are going to start to swirl (if your name starts with an E, and end with a D, computer generated rumors do not count)

- Lightning strikes twice, Tampa won their 2nd straight game against the red hot Florida Panthers last night thanks to brilliant goaltending by Mathieu Garon, and the scoring abilities of one Steven Stamkos. In 2 games, Garon had 47 saves, and Stamkos had 3 goals, and 1 assist.

- The Phoenix Coyotes continued strong play, as did Mike Smith, making 26 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the falling Dallas Stars. Mikkel Boedker scored career goal number 20 in the 1st period, Ray Whitney and Taylor Pyatt also added tallies.

- The Los Angeles Kings are 1-2-1 their last 4 after losing to The Chicago Blackhawks yesterday. Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick both faced 27 shots, but a Jonathan Toews goal (his 13th this year)  in the 2nd period broke the tie.

-Sit down Luongo! Corey Schneider made his mark last night against San Jose, stopping 43 shots in a 3-2 victory, his 4th straight, only allowing 3 goals in those 4 games. Just think, the goalie making $900,000 is winning games while the guy making $10,000,000 is riding the pine. Silly…isnt it? For Vancouver also, Manny Malhotra, playing in game number 800, scored his 2nd of the year. For San Jose, Patrick Marleau scored his 10th goal, his 20th point on the season, and Joe Pavelski earned his 150th career assist in the game.

The Flyers Winter Classic alumni team roster was announced today and here is the team, along with most common number used with the team and years played with the team.  Skater stats include games, goals, assists, points, plus/minus and penalty minutes.  Goaltender stats are games, wins, losses, ties, goals against average, save percentage and shutouts.

Goalies
#33 Mark LaForest (1987-89, 38 GP, 10-16-4, 3.91 GAA, .873, 1 SO)
#35 Neil Little (2001-02, 03-04, 2 GP, 0-2-0, 3.87 GAA, .838)

Defensemen
#29 Terry Carkner (1988-93, 376 GP, 29-103-132, -25, 867 PIM)
#37 Eric Desjardins (1995-2006, 738 GP, 93-303-396, +143, 396 PIM)
#5 Larry Goodenough (1974-77, 129 GP, 15-56-71, +72, 104 PIM)
#2 Derian Hatcher (2005-08, 203 GP, 9-24-33, -17, 193 PIM)
#2 Mark Howe (1982-92, 594 GP, 138-342-480, +349, 323 PIM)
#8 Brad Marsh (1981-88, 514 GP, 14-96-110, +99, 636 PIM)
#28 Kjell Samuelsson (1986-92, 95-98, 545 GP, 35-106-141, +103, 815 PIM)
#6 Chris Therien (1995-2006, 753 GP, 29-130-159, +125, 583 PIM)
#14 Joe Watson (1967-78, 746 GP, 36-162-198, +191, 397 PIM)

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Oh how quickly things can change for a team when their mindset goes in the right direction. For The Columbus Blue Jackets, this change seemed to come when 32 year old goaltender Curtis Sanford took the reigns from Steve Mason 3 games ago, and going 2-0-1 with a dazzling 1.46 goals against average and .943 save percentage. I just wanted to take a deeper look at this change, so here we go:

For Steve Mason, the team in front of him has been playing at half speed, the defense, hasn’t done work, and has made bad choices in front of the net. Mason, while his defense hasn’t helped him, he hasn’t helped himself, often looking rattled, letting in a few weak goals that seemed to shatter his, and his team’s confidence. Mason has looked absolutely spectacular at times this season, but more often, we have seen the puck wind up in the net. This break in which Sanford is playing, means a lot for Mason (besides healing his new injury), he can work on his game, and hopefully, get back to the form we all saw a few years ago, building back trust with his defense, and teammates, so both can play at the top of their game. When Sanford falters, Mason will get his turn inbetween the pipes again, and can try to prove that he’s our guy.

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