Kukla's Korner Hockey
... there’s nothing systematically wrong with the franchise. What’s the opposite of that? An entrenched foundation systematically inclined to keep Los Angeles in contention year after year? The Kings play with terrific structure, perhaps the best structure in the entire league. They have maybe the league’s best development team. The culture and identity that the team has engineered has not been dulled. There is an elite core of Anze Kopitar (27 years old), Drew Doughty (25 years old) and Jonathan Quick (29 years old). The oldest player on the team was 34. On the other hand there is also Mike Richards’ deeply concerning contract, and in an environment in which the salary cap will tighten the club’s flexibility to trim fat and surround its core with experienced pieces, there will be challenges in continuing to add to the depth that had served the team so well....
-Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider where you can read more on the Kings...
The Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets are going to the postseason. What happened to the Kings? Hudler, Pavelec, Hammond, Habs defence and more in Scott Cullen’s Statistically Speaking.
After losing 3-1 in Calgary Thursday, the Kings are the first Stanley Cup champion to miss the next year’s playoffs since 2006-2007 Carolina Hurricanes.
The thing is, it’s not like the Kings collapsed. They were the league’s top possession club (getting 54.9% of score-adjusted shot attempts) and still have the 13th-best goal differential (+0.22 per game), which is better than three playoff teams (Anaheim, Detroit and Vancouver).
How does a team with those underlying numbers still end up on the outside looking in at the playoffs?
For starters, the Kings were 2-8 in shootouts and 1-7 in overtime games. Given the randomness involved in shootout results, that’s basically coming out on the wrong end of coin flips. 3-15 in overtime and shootout games, after going 12-8 the year before, is enough in tightly-contested standings, to come up short. Records in one-goal games tend to be unsustainable, but there's enough of them in hockey that they make a huge difference in the standings.
continue plus more topics from the games last night at TSN...
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
The Kings' last failed title defense ended achingly close to their final goal, falling short in Chicago in a double-overtime rush of blood and sweat.
This quest did not end in the playoffs but in a regular-season defeat in Western Canada, with the coup de grace coming against the Calgary Flames. The Kings became the first reigning Stanley Cup champion to fail to reach the playoffs in the following season since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007.
In fact, 2009 was the last time the Kings failed to reach the playoffs. They lost in the first round the next two years and then won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, losing to the Blackhawks in the Western Conference final in 2013.
“It obviously stinks right now,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “It's definitely tough to swallow. When we came together in September, this is not the way we envisioned it
“It's hard. It's hard to put stuff in words right now.”
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
During the Kings' remarkable run of two Cup titles in three years — two more than their fans ever expected to see — and a run to the West final in between, they played 64 playoff games and sent a sizable delegation to the Sochi Olympics.
"A ton of hockey really," said defenseman Drew Doughty, who's averaging a Herculean 29 minutes and one second's ice time, two seconds off the league lead.
Doughty said the workload isn't a valid excuse for their downfall but it is a reality. So was their lack of scoring: they rank 20th with 216 goals and none of the teams behind them currently holds a playoff spot. No player had a career year; Jeff Carter was their most consistent forward but Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams endured long slumps. Tyler Toffoli hasn't scored an even-strength goal in 24 games.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Will the real Los Angeles Kings please stand up? Are they the team running on fumes we saw Tuesday night in Edmonton, or are they the side with a championship heart that has one last flurry of swings in them?
The beauty of this time of year is that the answers will become crystal clear. The Kings are in Calgary tonight and must register a regulation victory to tie the Flames on points at 95, and then hope they can finish a point ahead of Calgary after the Flames head to Winnipeg and the defending champs host the San Jose Sharks.
Tonight's contest in Calgary will be revealing in many ways, with the champ on the ropes and the upstart Flames having a chance to book their ticket to the postseason, easily the most surprising development of the year if it comes true for Bob Hartley's men. And don't forget, they've been doing it without team MVP Mark Giordano since Feb. 26, going 11-5-3 without their capatin. Unreal.
Does the clock strike midnight tonight? We shall see.
read on for notes on the Bruins, Capitals, Jamie Benn/Sidney Crosby and the Canadiens from the ESPN hockey crew...
from George Johnson of the Calgary Herald,
There is no remaining wiggle room for the reigning Stanley Cup titans. No more mulligans. No more Get Out of Jail Free cards.
There is nothing beyond this game. No White House visits. No parades. No champagne.
Just 60 minutes against a foe that is neither in fear nor awe.
One loss, either here or against the San Jose Sharks come Saturday, or two Flames’ points over Calgary’s final pair of games, and the Kings go from hockey aristocrats to afterthoughts.
They are, in reverse, a storyline every bit as compelling as the Flames.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
The reigning Stanley Cup champion hasn't missed the playoffs since the Carolina Hurricanes missed in 2006-07, and it's happened just four times overall since 1967-68. However, a 4-2 loss to the lowly Edmonton Oilers means the Los Angeles Kings are in danger of adding themselves to that list.
They now sit three points outside the final wild card spot with games remaining against the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks. It's widely believed that the Kings will be tough to eliminate if they get in, but watching them sputter down the stretch you can't help but believe this group has run out of gas after three straight long playoff runs. If this is it for the Kings, it was an incredible run.
more hockey topics from the ESPN hockey writers...
from Rich Hammond of the OC Register,
Of all the unlikely NHL playoff scenarios, it’s difficult to top this one. The Kings, winners of the Stanley Cup in two of the past three seasons, might have had their season ended by the lowly Edmonton Oilers.
The Kings aren’t done. They still have a plausible path to the playoffs, but it developed a massive, shocking pothole Tuesday night when the Oilers beat the Kings 4-2 at Rexall Place.
With two games remaining in their season, the Kings are two points behind Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division and three points behind Winnipeg for the second and final Western Conference wild-card spot. The Kings play at Calgary on Thursday, in a game that could eliminate them from the postseason race.
''We definitely have to get our urgency up and our emotional level up, after a tough loss,’’ defenseman Jake Muzzin said on Prime Ticket. ''Stay calm and collected as a group. We know what it takes. We’ve got a bunch of experienced guys, and we need to up our urgency for the next game.’’
Darryl Sutter after practice today, the play in Edmonton tonight...
from Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider,
On whether heavy minutes by several players last night places an emphasis on rolling four lines tonight:
No, we’re looking to win, not playing favorites, I’m not looking at last night. Other than Kopi, who did? Nobody. Other than Kopi, nobody played over their [minutes], and he had to because he was a lefthander who could win every faceoff, and he was dominant, so he went off for every backhand faceoff in his zone. And, obviously with overtime, if you figure that in, that’s 65, so there’s guys who get a couple more minutes. There was nobody that was over there. In fact, some guys were under it. Some guys were half speed and couldn’t play last night. They were just along for the ride.
more from Sutter...
Barry Melrose says Kings and Jets, in, Flames out.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
The reigning champs sure aren't making it easy on themselves. More specifically, the Sedins are making things tough. In full Game 7 mode, the Canucks came up big in the shootout with a 2-1 win over the Kings.
Career assist No. 700 for Henrik Sedin might have been the highlight of the night, when he went behind the net then sent a blind backhand in the direction of Daniel Sedin for a one-timer. It was pure Sedin and couldn't have come at a better time, tying the game up in the third period.
With the win, the Canucks moved one step closer to locking up a playoff spot and served up a reminder that the hockey world is better off with the Sedins in the postseason.
more from the ESPN crew including Lebrun on the Wild, Strang on the Jets and Burnside on the last week of the season...
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.
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