Archive for the ‘Los Angeles Kings’ Category

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

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.

Shutout King

Posted: October 25, 2011 by goaliesgetmorebetches in Los Angeles Kings
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Jonathan Quick.

On Saturday night, October 22nd, history was made for the Los Angeles Kings. Goalie Jonathan Quick recorded his third consecutive shutout victory for the Kings in a 1-0 triumph over division rival Dallas. His steak of 188 minutes and ten seconds without allowing a goal is the longest in team history, eclipsing Rogie Vachon’s previous record of 184minutes and 55 seconds established in 1975. Quick also becomes the first NHL goalie to earn 3 straight shutouts since Columbus’ Steve Mason in 2008.

Quick’s streak began on October 18th in Los Angeles, the Kings’ home opener against the St. Louis Blues in which Quick stopped 26 en route to a 5-0 win. Two nights later in Phoenix, Quick stopped 28 in a 2-0 victory over the Coyotes, a tight checking affair where some big saves, particularly late in the game, were the difference. Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Dallas was a goaltending duel between Quick and Stars’ goalie Andrew Raycroft, a game in which Dallas outshot the Kings and Quick made Jack Johnson’s lone goal with 4:58 remaining hold up.

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Alec Martinez, Davis Drewiske and Slava Voynov

Having depth on defense is good, but making the choice of who to keep and who to send down is a difficult decision to make. This is the situation that the Kings management is currently facing. With Drew Doughty on injured reserve, Slava Voynov got the call to fill his spot and made his NHL debut in the Kings home opener. That left Davis Drewiske in the same position he was in most of last season: a healthy scratch. With speculation that Doughty could return to the line-up on Tuesday against New Jersey, who stays?

Before Doughty’s injury, the Kings were carrying seven defensemen. Why not just play Drewiske? During training camp, Voynov impressed the Kings management so it was only expected that he would get the call. Chatter amongst Kings fans is whether or not they think Voynov should stay with the big club and what should become of Drewiske. There are a couple of questions that I have my own answers for.

Why not keep Voynov and send Drewiske to Manchester?

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1-1-1… Thoughts About the First 3 Games

Posted: October 14, 2011 by goaliesgetmorebetches in Los Angeles Kings

(NOTE: This entry was also cross-posted at my Kings’ only blog, The Throne Room)

The regular season is upon us now, and the Kings have played a trio of games thus far. Opening day in Stockholm saw the Kings beat the New York Rangers on a Jack Johnson power play goal in OT 3-2. The next day in Berlin, the Kings were outworked by the re-tooled Buffalo Sabres and beaten 4-2. Tonight in New Jersey, the Kings suffered a 2-1 shootout loss to the Devils. So, all things being symmetrical I thought I would give some of my thoughts on the team’s play thus far.

A Dustin Penner injury brought head coach Terry Murray to move Simon Gagne up to the top line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. That line has accounted for 3 of the team’s 5 goals thus far, and while Murray’s original idea was to have Penner flank Kopitar on the left, the seemingly instant chemisty between Kopitar, Williams and Gagne should see that line combination stick around awhile. The Kings’ lone regulation goal tonight was a beauty by Gagne, who was set up by Williams and Kopitar. This line has been dangerous in all 3 games and should continue to be going forward.

Much has been said about Jack Johnson needing to be a plus player this season. Through 3 games, Johnson is a -2. Jack has done much to contribute offensively, particularly in the first two games; but he has yet to escape being caught standing around on an opponents goal in any game this year. Johnson has been on the ice, and has made key mistakes in at least one opposing goal against in each of the Kings’ first three games. This is going to have to change in order for Johnson to make the leap from a good second pair defender to a very good defender, period. It’s early but what we’ve seen from Jack so far is what we’ve always seen – and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

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Doughty Watch

Posted: September 17, 2011 by Kingie in Los Angeles Kings
Tags: ,

Drew Doughty

Last season for the Kings, it was Ilya Kovalchuk. This year’s off-season dilemma? Re-signing Drew Doughty. Put aside trying to land Brad Richards via free agency, Dean Lombardi has been trying to get a new deal in place for the defenseman before training camp. The plan was to have Drew signed by July 1st, but here we are, the start of training camp and no new contract. So what’s the hold up? The past few days have seen a lot of fans blaming Doughty and calling him a “diva” for turning down a long-term deal worth what is believed to be an average of $6.8 million. We don’t know the specifics of what the Kings offered, but it has been reported that Doughty’s camp is asking $7 million. Lombardi has publicly stated that he thinks what he offered is fair and wouldn’t be offering more. The Kings have no issues with cap space, so why can’t Lombardi give Doughty what he is asking? The easy answer would be that he is spending wisely. We have seen this team go through the rebuilding process since Lombardi was hired on as General Manager in 2006. He is taking every step to make sure the Kings are going to be successful for years to come. He is taking extra care to be sure he can have all the right pieces in place to make that vision become reality. Drew Doughty is a valuable player. With the direction the team has been headed the past few seasons, getting a contract in place is a priority.

So, is Doughty the diva here, or is it his agent, Don Meehan? (more…)