Kukla's Korner Hockey
via Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
The Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup three times since 2010, the Kings twice since 2012. Neither were able to repeat as champions. But the Blackhawks claim to the word "dynasty" remains strong, while the Kings seem suddenly adrift.
In Chicago, there's a great deal of faith in GM Stan Bowman, who is able to remake his team each year around his core. The master of the salary cap world. He may have a couple of issues to deal with: the ages of Brent Seabrook, who has a lot of miles for a 31-year-old, and Marian Hossa, who at 37 may not be around much longer.
In Los Angeles, there is less faith in GM Dean Lombardi, who squandered his chance to make Mike Richards a compliance buyout a few years ago -- i.e., get him off the salary cap altogether. Instead, by waiting, Richards will cost the Kings $1.32 million in cap space until 2020. The Kings are a cap team with an aging core. Their time may have past.
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
“To be honest, I really don't have much interest into hitting the open market, or even hearing what's out there -- because in my mind, this is where I want to be,” said Lucic. “Why flirt with something when you know what you want?”
Lucic's willingness to stay, at what would almost certainly be at a discount compared to what he could potentially earn as a free agent, might make negotiations on a contract extension easier for Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi. Lucic, whose salary-cap hit to the Kings was $3.25 million this last year, said he didn't think the sides were too far apart.
“Just a little bit more work to do to bridge the gap here,” said Lucic. “It's something I definitely want moving forward and it's something they want too. Hopefully, we can make it work out here.”...
As expected, Vinny Lecavalier, who joined the Kings in January from the Philadelphia Flyers, made it official - he will be retiring. Lecavalier made that promise to the Kings so that his $4.5-million salary-cap charge wouldn't linger on the books.
“I've had a lot of good moments,” said a reflective Lecavalier. “One of the best was winning the Cup [in 2004, with the Tampa Bay Lightning] but to get a second chance at playing when you think you might not play again was great. This was just a really good experience for me, the last three or four months.
“I always had that confidence deep down I could still do well. It was great, and this is a great team. I know they're going to win again, just by the way they act, and the leadership group and the talent they have. It's been great.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
It was a handshake line the San Jose Sharks have dreamed of for 24 months.
The one where you look the Los Angeles Kings players in their eyes, with respect, of course -- but also with that knowing look and a satisfying smile.
Got you back, boys.
"It felt really good, the end of the game and that buzzer, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face for a while," said Sharks center Logan Couture. "We needed to win that series for our fans. It was nice to win, especially with things that were said by players on their team about us and our leadership and stuff like that. It was nice to beat them."
Watch the handshake line below...
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
A handshake instead of another Stanley Cup championship.
A season ended with a beautiful but brief tease and a first-round playoff exit.
What had the makings of another epic rally against a familiar foe ended Friday with the Kings' 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks, pushing them into an off-season sure to be full of soul-searching and roster rebuilding as the most dominant era of their history recedes further into the past.
If they are honest, they shouldn't be fooled by having spotted the Sharks a 3-0 lead Friday and then pulling even in the second period, setting pulses racing and restoring fans' shaken faith at a raucous Staples Center.
Below, watch the game highlights and Darryl Sutter post-game...
from Kent Youngblood at Russo's Rants,
Game 5 of the series, led 3-1 by Dallas, is Friday night in Texas.
Of course, most of the talk was about how, down three games to on in this best-of-seven series, the Wild was going to stave off elimination.
“Hey, I like the way we’re playing,” Torchetti said. “We just have to find a way to get back home. That’s the bottom line. We have to find a way to get back home. As a coach, we deserve a chance to get back home. We need to keep playing the same way, have the same mindset, keep playing for each other, just push each other a little more. Because I know there is another level this team can get.’’
How is he so sure? “Oh, you can see it,’’ Torchetti said. “I don’t know the exact shot count, but we held them to what, 22 shots last night? And what was it the game before, 17? Then in their building, Game 2, 25? (Actually 28). That’s pretty good. I think our team is doing a good job defensively, structure-wise, competing. I think we’ve done a good job. We just have to keep improving. Again, you have to win the game. We’re in the results business, you have to win the game.’’
Below, reports on the Kings and Flyers...
from Robert Tychkowski at the National Post,
Sutter doesn’t have a problem with the penalty calls, in fact, he wanted to see a couple more.
“The referees missed some calls,” he said after a team meeting at the Kings practice facility in El Segundo. “The theme today is San Jose’s power play, but the theme for me is why didn’t we have more? We have a good power play, too.”
When the Kings were swarming San Jose end after closing it to 3-2 in the third period, Sutter definitely thinks there was some obstruction that nobody wanted to whistle down.
“There were missed calls in the third period,” he said. “When it was 3-2 there should have been some calls, clearly. There’s two hooking and tripping penalties they have to call. That’s all you ask, that it be even. There’s not one team (cheating) more than the other one.
“We might have (scored) last game and been playing till 3 this morning if they give us one more, but we didn’t get the call.”
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
You could say the view up the mountain isn't quite as dire for the Kings as it was two years ago.
Degree of dire.
That might be nitpicking
The Kings are facing another massive deficit after the San Jose Sharks beat them, 3-2, on Wednesday night at SAP Center in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series. San Jose leads the best-of-seven series, three games to one.
Next up for the Kings: An elimination game on their home ice at Staples Center on Friday night. The Kings staged a comeback for the ages in 2014 against the Sharks after losing the first three games in the first round.
Game highlights can be watchec below...
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
"They weren't going to go away lightly," said Sharks defenseman Justin Braun about the Kings. "They got one more bounce than us at the end of the night. It's going to be like this the rest of the series."
In hindsight, the Sharks did not really lose Monday's game because of the overtime goal. After the first period ended 1-1, the Kings handed five power plays to a Sharks unit that has been among the league's best all season. But the Sharks went 0 for 5 on this night. They had good looks at the net but could not convert.
Most frustrating were two extra-man situations for the Sharks in the final six minutes.
"That last one, especially, we felt like we were going to get it," said Sharks centerman Joe Thornton, who scored his team's only goal of the night just 30 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The San Jose Sharks lead the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 in their first-round playoff series, with Game 3 set for Monday, 10:30 p.m. ET, at what should be a hopping SAP Center. Five observations about what we've seen so far and why this series is worth watching:
1. Jumbo's a beast: There's a reason 36-year-old Joe Thornton should be on a few Selke Trophy ballots this season. Just watch the first two games of this series and you see again the two-way beast the veteran center has become over the past few seasons after making his name in his younger years as an offensive star. Thornton's defensive awareness has been on full display through two games, thwarting many a Kings' offensive attempt. It reminds me so much of the way Steve Yzerman changed his game under Scotty Bowman in his later years.
from Elliott Teaford of the LA Daily News,
Now what? Now what do the Kings try after being outplayed and falling behind the San Jose Sharks two games to none in their best-of-7 first-round playoff series? What must they do to rally, to build confidence and momentum and get back into the series?
The Sharks’ best players have been their best players during the first two games, a 4-3 victory Thursday in Game 1 and a 2-1 win Saturday in Game 2. Joe Pavelski, the Sharks’ top goal-scorer in the regular season with 38, has a team-leading four points (three goals, one assist) so far.
The same cannot be said of the Kings’ top players. Right wing Tyler Toffoli, their leading goal-scorer with 31 during the regular season, has failed to record a point in two games. Center Anze Kopitar, their top scorer with 74 points, has one assist so far.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com