Shootout Gloriousness; Kings 2, Blackhawks 1

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Los Angeles Kings defeated the hottest team in the NHL with a win in overtime. The Chicago Blackhawks came in tonight with a record of 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and brought with them a style I wish the Kings could play with on a regular basis, which is an up-tempo, puck-moving mentality. It took until the second round of the shootout, but the Kings pulled through for the W. Regulation had a lot of open play geared more north-south than anything else, and Chicago far outshot the Kings (33-22) especially in the third period. All of the excitement during regulation was transferred to the overtime frame and continued into the shootout.

Wayne Simmonds scored in the second period to put the Kings up, and it would have been epic if he had notched the game-winning goal in OT. He played a great game and his rise in the past few games has been very impressive. He played only 15:24 tonight but it seemed like he was all over the ice. He was popping up in the correct places and times and was definitely making his presence known. A return for Jarret Stoll was also made very aware with the faceoff numbers for the entire team above .500; 59% to be exact.

While the 4th line is playing more minutes, I definitely didn't think Brad Richardson deserved ice time in OT. He didn't have any business being anywhere away from the bench outside of regulation. I could be a bit over critical here, but let's be serious. One player who actually made the most of his 11:53 of TOI was Teddy Purcell. I noticed him pouncing on pucks and getting in the corners. I think he may just be coming around! One thing to note is his reluctance of getting the puck to the goal on the power play. He's getting minutes there but is like a deer in headlights when he has an open lane. Granted the open lanes only appear for just a second at a time, he should have the confidence to not hesitate when he can see them.

All of the wide open play made for a ridiculously exciting overtime frame with a shootout result left to the goaltenders. Cristobal Huet did not fare so well as Anze Kopitar faked him out and let the puck slide through his legs. Jonathan Quick stuffed both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the win, and Jack Johnson adds another shootout goal to his numbers, which are now 3 for 5 (60%) this season. Quick's confidence is ticking up with each game and the Kings are looking strong as the league passes the quarter mark of the season.

This gives the Kings another 2 points to keep them 2nd in the Pacific Division. They trail San Jose by 6 points and the Kings don't play until Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks who are still last in the Pacific. The team is fighting through every game and the best update of the morning was that Ryan Smyth was on the ice for light practice.


Another Rise and Fall

Saturday, November 28, 2009

In another back-to-back the Los Angeles Kings win one and drop the other over the American Thanksgiving holiday. On Wednesday they won against the Edmonton Oilers (3-1) but lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday (4-1).

Since this weekend has altered my schedule a bit, I'm going to go back to the quick bullet-point style that I find so useful on this type of occasion. I hope everyone has had a great 4-day weekend because I definitely have.
  • Matt Greene got his first goal of the season, which was also the game-winning goal against the Oilers. It was a pass out to the point and a lob to the goalmouth that beat Jeff Deslauriers over his shoulder.
  • The Andrei Loktionov experiment halted to a standstill with a dislocated shoulder at the end of the game against the Oilers, which is completely unfortunate for him and the team.
  • Thank you, Patrick O'Sullivan.
  • The Kings were atrocious in the faceoff circle at 42% and 38%, respectively. A certain number 28 needs to get back in the lineup ASAP.
  • I've actually liked Teddy Purcell's play in these two games on the top line. He's not the greatest replacement but I think he'll be an adequate stand-in while not adding too much in terms of offensive production. It's a shame Terry Murray is changing it up again by putting Alexander Frolov back on the left wing.
  • Michael Handzus took out Ales Hemsky and he is now out for the rest of the season with shoulder surgery.
  • The other rookie experiment of Brayden Schenn took only one game as well. He was signed to a one-game contract and will not be returning to the lineup for tonight's game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
  • The Vancouver Canucks presented a much harder challenge to the Kings than the Oilers on Thursday and they fell 4 to 1. Roberto Loungo was the wall for the Canucks and Jonathan Quick was playing well until the third period with a collapse of three goals against. The last goal was by Kyle Wellwood who is such a great player he hit the post before scoring in the empty net. Great job, guy.
  • The player of these two games was definitely Wayne Simmonds. He had the most jump of everyone and was the only to get a goal in both games.
That's all I got, folks. Thanks for stopping by. I truely appreciate it! Also, please check out the new episode of KingsCast titled Injury Bugged.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I know it's an American corporate holiday, but what can I do? I'm just in it for the food. The Kings beat the Edmonton Oilers last night and are in Vancouver today for a 7pm faceoff. I'll have game recaps up tomorrow, if you'd like to check those out. I hope you do!

Off to eat myself silly!

[Update]: New KingsCast Podcast - Episode 3. Check it out!


Kings Fizzle At Home; Flames 5, Kings 2

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Los Angeles Kings dropped another game and upped the number in the loss column on Saturday when the Calgary Flames and their fans came to Staples. The ending score of 5-2 basically described the play on the ice especially the first goal of the game by Jarome Iginla just 13 seconds in. Fantastic. The two goals scored by Drew Doughty and Alexander Frolov were the only real highlights of the game. They were scored with less than a minute in between them, but other than that, once again, the scoreboard reflected the play on the ice.

Overall there's not too much to say about this game since there wasn't any improvement in any aspect really. Frolov was put back on the first line and absolutely nothing changed. Surprised? I think not. Ryan Smyth is probably gnashing out his teeth with every game he's sitting out. With Justin Williams still playing solidly and Anze Kopitar's play at a standstill, no one here is questioning the x-factor. C'mon Captain Canada!

I'm sure that was nice.


Matt Moulson!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Here is your obligatory post on Matt Moulson for this season. I was asked to give my two cents on why I thought Moulson was shining so brightly this season and I hope you go check it out!

Please go to View From My Seats and read his great article on the mighty Matt Moulson!


Kopitar needs Smytty: Flyers 3, Kings 2

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It is very clear that Anze Kopitar needs Ryan Smyth. The Los Angeles Kings hosting the Philadelphia Flyers was one I knew would be a feisty battle to the end. I can retrospectively say this was probably the worst game for Smyth to be out of the lineup because the Flyers came to Staples Center and left with a bashing victory. This game was wide open due to missed passes and subsequent turnovers, and the Flyers were all over the place pouncing on loose pucks and misreads by the Kings.

The first 10 minutes of the game were north-south to the max. The feeling out process for teams in different conferences takes a bit of time, and thankfully the Kings were the first to gain control. Jarret Stoll was able to score off a sharp angle on Brian Boucher for the first goal of the game. (I seem to remember Boucher letting in a similar goal last season when they faced the San Jose Sharks.) The second period went back to neither team dominating causing an overall manic feel and the third was flat out frantic. The 5-on-3 advantage the Kings had should have slowed the game down drastically in their favor, but it was just about the worst man-advantage I have ever seen. The Kings couldn't get the puck past the offensive blueline let alone set anything up. The Flyers were aggressive all around and the 2-man advantage expired with nothing to show for it.

Let me make it clear that Alexander Frolov doesn't belong on the top line. I'm not saying he played terribly; I'm merely saying Frolov is best served on, at most, the second line. He was supposed to up his game and compliment Kopitar and Justin Williams on the first line, but nothing changed for Frolov. He looked the same and I'm not sure what to say other than there will be a different left wing on that line Saturday against the Calgary Flames. Williams, on the other hand, had a strong showing with 8 total shots on net. Kopitar had 6 shots while Frolov had only 1. As a team, the Kings landed 39 shots on the Flyers goaltender with Jonathan Quick seeing just 20.

This was a high hitting game and I was mildly impressed with some players and not with others, as is usually the case. In this particular game, Teddy Purcell stepped up his visibility a touch while Davis Drewiske did not. I'm not going to strategically analyze their play for this one game; rather, I'm just going chock it up to playing in modified lines against a team they are unfamiliar with. (Let me know when that line gets old.)

The incredible high/low light of this game was the rolling puck parallel to the Flyers' blueline that could have led to the Kings tying goal with just seconds left in regulation. The insanity at the end of the game could have tilted just one degree in favor of the Kings, but it predictably didn't and the large "L" loomed upon them on the stats sheet. That, my friends, is the definition of heartbreak.


Thank You Jack Johnson; Kings 4, Panthers 3 (SO)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Once again it takes a shootout but the Los Angeles Kings pull out another win in the Southeast. They faced the Florida Panthers who were looking quite different from last season. I remember the Panthers to be a team on the brink of shambles, but this season has definitely been much kinder to them. They aren't... last in the Southeast Division, so there's that. The Kings, on the other hand, have another two points to their name bringing them up to 28 points. They have surpassed the Colorado Avalanche (27 ) and only trail the San Jose Sharks (32) in the West.

Like the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, this contest was a physical battle with one pretty significant difference, the Panthers are more organized defensively than the Lightning. They had a much more aggressive defensive mindset, their forechecking was harder, and their defensive box was much bigger than what the Kings are used to. The extra pressure put the onus on the second D to accept that first pass out of the zone, but missed pass after missed pass put the stress on their own shoulders. In the end, it was another hard fought victory that was less physical than the last game but still saw the shootout. This time around the Kings only needed Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson to stand at center ice, and Jonathan Quick was his beastly self in stopping all shots taken by the Panthers.

Ryan Smyth left the game twice with an unknown injury. There haven't been any updates released by the Kings so we can only sit and wait... nervously.

Lastly, something that's bugging me: is it legal for a player to sweep away a goaltender's stick when it's laying outside of the crease? I'm talking about moving a goalie's unbroken stick to the boards so it's completely out of his reach. That's exactly what happened to Quick on the weird bounce ending in a goal against with a massive scramble at the goal mouth. It definitely would have been illegal if the opposing player picked up the stick and tossed it away toward the boards, but c'mon, that's so cheap to clear an unbroken stick away like that giving your team a lame advantage. (Replace "cheap" with a harsher word and you'll get what I really mean.)

Next up are the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday back in Staples Center; they have 23 points and are third in the Atlantic Division. I'm definitely looking forward to this game and grabbing two more points in the standings. I realize I'm getting more and more greedy for these precious points; I can't help it. It feels so great when the Kings rack them up because it means the Pacific Division is looking more in their favor and those in the Eastern Conference are noticing more and more. Having a winning team is creating an almost (but not-yet) insatiable lust for more points!


A Dismal Outcome and Another Lease At Life

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In another back-to-back stint, the Los Angeles Kings had one fail and one lucky night. I missed the game on Friday night where the Kings faced the Atlanta Thrashers and I'm glad I did. I was fully planning on watching the game when I got home, but accidentally seeing the score caused bile to rise up from my stomach. Consequently, I did not watch the game and ended my night on a happy note. A score of 7 to 0 is plain ridiculous and there's no reason to waste my time watching a contest like that. Plus the Chinese food for dinner mysteriously put me to sleep by 10 pm. Go figure.

The stats sheet showed an insane slew of penalties, which leads me believe it was a chip-fest to the end. I saw a few highlights, but not enough to make logical conclusions from the stats sheets. I seem to remember the Kings game against the Thrashers last year ended in a 7-6 OT victory. So two years in a row prove to be strange games. I'll let this one go for now.

On Saturday night the Kings were in Tampa Bay to face the Lightning in their Bolts jerseys; gross. Overall this game was surprisingly even. The shots, hits, and faceoff percentage were virtually identical. Both teams had big opportunities and both also had flubbed chances. The game could have easily gotten boring at multiple times, but they were fighting for possession and control every single shift and neither goalie had too much downtime at any point in the game. Case in point, Antero Niittymaki and Jonathan Quick had identical saves robbing the other team of sweet, sweet goals. (If I can find a decent highlight package, I'll update.)

Steven Stamkos was definitely the standout from the oppostition, but it was a joke the way he cross checked Drew Doughty. I'm not being defensive about the situation; Stamkos took his shot from the point, Doughty blocked it like a man without falling to the ice, and Stamkos cross checked him in the chest for no apparent reason. Perhaps there were words exchanged but, really, Doughty is the better player here. Thank you very much.

By the way, Wayne Simmonds getting a roughing penalty after taking an elbow to the head was complete BS. That is a joke to have something like that get by the refs when there are two of them on the ice. I find that unacceptable and the Lightning color commentator sure acted like he didn't see it either. Where's Jim Fox to not be a homer and tell it like it is? I hate watching a telecast run by homers; makes me sick.

On the flip side, the game went into OT and the battle continued 4-on-4. A Lightning goal was scored and it seemed to be over. But, but, but. The refs huddled and then went to take the call from Toronto. It was deemed not a goal and play continued. Here's where I pause and give credit to the refs who actually had the balls to call back the entire Lightning team after they had flooded the ice and the coaching staff already left the bench. Quick could have possibly stopped the incoming shot were it not for the deflected-Andrej Meszaros shot. Paul Szczechura passed in front of Quick inside the blue paint and the puck was in the back of the net, but an interference call brought the teams back to reality.

The Kings got a second chance at life. They literally got a second chance to change the outcome of the game, which they were able to do. After a stressful rest of overtime, the teams went into the shootout with Anze Kopitar, Jack Johnson, and Dustin Brown taking the shots. Kopitar was his usual awesome self but the other two tried glove-side, which didn't result in goals but Quick was the wall at the other side of the rink to shutdown all of the Lightning players who took their attempts. The game ended with the Kings getting two more points and another win the the W column.

The Kings are still second in the Pacific Division and are in a three-way tie for third in the Western Conference. I can't do anything but smile at those numbers. I'm definitely not waiting for them to falter down the standings anymore. They are at the top not because of a fluke; they're there because they are working hard every night and getting the effort in. There is very little to be disappointed about in these first two months of the season and I'm expecting the rest of the season to pan out that way. Tomorrow they play the Florida Panthers for the last game of this road trip. The Panthers have won their past two games but have only 15 points so I'm hoping this will be another well-fought win for the Kings.


Back in the Game; Kings 5, Hurricanes 2

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Los Angeles Kings faced the Carolina Hurricanes in the second game of this 5-game road trip. They broke a 2-game losing streak by tweaking the lineup a touch and facing a team on its own 12-game losing streak. The 5-2 victory over the Canes was indicative of the latter's play, which looked beyond rough and the Kings exploded out of the gate with a great first period. Ryan Smyth did his job getting his 9th goal of the season in front of the net, and that's basically the bottom line. He's playing his role to a T and I have zero criticism going his way. Jarret Stoll's goal was a bit odd in that I'm not sure he could do it again if he tried. It seemed to be 90% luck and 10% skill. Either way it put the Kings up 2-0 and Randy Jones got his first point as a King. He then went and got his first goal in the third while looking very comfortable in the line up. I'm very pleased with this whole situation of Jones and am hoping it turns out to be a Kyle Quincey-like occurrence.

Of course Anze Kopitar had another good game. He didn't notch a goal last night but did get two assists, so thumbs up to him and keep it going! Another roster tweak was that Erik Ersberg got his second start of the season with Jonathan Quick sitting on the bench. Ersberg got the solid win, and yes, he let in two "interesting" goals but I'd rather he shake off any in-game rust against Carolina than any other team right now.

As a team, the Kings had a great first period, began to falter in the second, but were able to finish in definite fashion in the third. Manny Legace was Carolina's best player of the night and gave his team as many chances as he could to get back into the game. Unfortunately, the deal was essentially sealed after Wayne Simmond's goal in the middle of the third period and Justin Williams capped of the night with an empty netter.

This was a good win for the Kings, which they will continue through the Southeast Division, but there was one slight blemish on the stats sheet from this game. Teddy Purcell. 4:02 of ice time and a -1. I'm in no way angry about how he has completely disappeared the farther into the season they go; rather, disappointment accompanied by raised eyebrows comes across my face every game when I look at his play. His production is almost nil and I'm not sure how much longer he'll stay up with the team. Maybe he needs to be sent back to Manchester for a stint?

On the other side of this NHL/AHL coin, Scott Parse is making a point. He only had 11:44 of TOI but you noticed when he was on the ice. His spark on the forecheck is very noticeable and he's slowly earning his ice time from the coaching staff every game. Parse is how one should make an NHL showing when you're leading the AHL team in points. I'm not saying Purcell won't get there, but for now, he seems to have been pushed to the background for a bit while the rest of the team continues to sort itself out.


Beware of National Coverage: Blackhawks 4, Kings 1

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On the only day of the season that the Los Angeles Kings have face time on Versus, they decide to dilly dally about on the ice losing to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. The game began with a promising first period as the teams battled it out, but the Kings regressed into last season's form and they slowly deteriorated with no chance of saving themselves. They faded in the second period and were virtually non-existent in the third. On paper the sum total of 2 shots on Cristobal Huet in the third was the leading indicator that the Kings were drowning, but visually it was much worse. The team had no connection with each other, but thankfully this has become a rare occurrence this season so I'm hoping this is a slight downhill trend that will right itself soon enough.

A positive for this game was Anze Kopitar who scored his 14th goal of the season putting him in a tie for the league-leading scorer, Washington Capitals' Alexander Ovechkin. This was basically the only highlight of the game. It was pretty abysmal overall, which is such a bummer seeing this was the only shot for the Kings to be seen on a national (+ Canadian) scale seeing how it was the only game of the night. Alas, they couldn't transition their first period momentum into the rest of the game and Kings fans were left disappointed.

I'm getting a little Negative Nancy, but one more thing. Jonathan Quick was not in his best form either letting out big rebounds and not covering his posts. He definitely had minimal help from the defensemen who were having plenty of difficulties of their own.

This was the first game of a 5-game roadtrip with the rest of the games in the Southeast Division. Moving forward, the Kings face the Atlanta Thrashers tomorrow and all I'm hoping for is for them to get themselves back to where they were so I can breathe a sigh of relief.


Los Angeles Kings Versus Nashville Predators

Saturday, November 7, 2009

In about an hour the Nashville Predators will be on Staples Center ice against the Los Angeles Kings. I was looking forward to chilling on my couch and watching the 1:00 pm PST start; alas, FSN West is not airing the game. This would be okay except for the fact that Nashville isn't airing the game either. I think this has happened every year against the Preds. One of the games with these two teams is never aired and I get angry every time. I have an hour to decide if I'm going to find the radio feed or just watch the box score. Either way, it's pretty pathetic.


Kopi-Star: Kings 5, Penguins 2

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Los Angeles Kings hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins last night and proved they deserve to be at the top of the standings. Things are clicking for the Kings and they show no signs of slowing down. Anze Kopitar is on FIRE and his line mates are providing support for him all the way. He is dominating the games the way he should have been doing last season.

Last night his first goal was scored less than 30 seconds in was the best wake up call the Kings could have given to the Pens who have been doing very well for themselves so far this season. Sidney Crosby looked mortal and ended the night with a -1. This game wasn't won on pure luck but hard work by everyone on the roster.

I'm not sure what was more surprising: both teams scoring on their first shots on net or the 23 seconds between Jarret Stoll's goal and Michael Handzus' goal in the third. Actually, the latter was more surprising for me because no one is doubting Kopitar's production. I absolutely loved Stoll's exuberance from scoring on Marc-Andre Fleury. This was his 4th goal of the season and his faceoff percentage was back to normal at 83%. I'm not sure how Fleury was feeling last night, but I was sure how all Kings fans were feeling; total excitement and happiness. Two things Kings fans have finally been able to experience beyond a game-by-game basis.

Jonathan Quick had two of the sickest pad saves and led the Kings to their victory. The San Jose Sharks sit two points higher for the Pacific Division lead and the Kings are vying for that spot. At this point in time, the Kings don't need to look at those in their rear view mirrors anymore. The focus is forward for every game.


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