Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider,
On the surface, the Kings appeared to be in adequate spirits despite the drop-off in the standings. They’re aware of the situation they’re in. They’re frustrated, even if they aren’t always demonstratively so when speaking with reporters during off-day practice sessions.
But deeper down, given the seven wins in 25 games during the dog days of what was supposed to be a legitimate defense to their second title in three years, there’s clearly a simmering umbrage towards the season’s direction in what has been a cruel calendar year of 2015.
“I hear you people say it all the time,” General Manager Dean Lombardi said. “You don’t even have to be the general manager or coach to get a feel for a room, right? And you guys have been around long enough, and you can sense it. It’s weird. But you know what? It’s not weird, because 50 years from now with these brain scans and understanding of neutrinos, we’re going to find out that there is a scientific basis for that innate feeling we get that we can’t explain.”
Neutrinos aside, that innate feeling has been with Lombardi for a long time – even since the club’s six-game winning streak in October.
“Let’s get real here, this has been going on all year,” he said. “We’d show signs, like Chicago we played well. We played well in Boston, and it looks like we’re coming, and then we get this. This has been a year-long thing. This whole ‘flick switch’ thing is the kiss of death if you look at history. The only difference now is you’re in February, right, but in reality you’re seeing the same things.”
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
The Kings have rarely looked so rattled in the Sutter Era.
Not only are they failing to protect third-period leads, the Kings are imploding with a series of mistakes at crucial junctures. They took a third-period lead with Gaborik's 17th goal of the season, coming on the power play at 2:19, but promptly lost the chance to make up ground in the playoff race.
"To be honest, the way we lost, it is what it is," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "We lost two points. We had two. Then we had one. And then we got none. That's the bottom line."
You have to wonder whether the spectacular meltdown could have a lasting impact.
"We got zero points tonight," Stoll said. "Yeah, it's a tough loss. But we got zero points."
more on the 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers...
We’re obviously not the happiest group right now. We’re not playing well. We’re not winning games when we need to and need to start winning games quick. Now the mood has kind of turned into a little more urgent, a little more determined team and we’ve got a lot to play for every single game.
-Drew Doughty of the Los Angels Kings. Read more from Doughty by Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider.
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
"Everybody [should] be on the same page, playing the system, playing 60 minutes and play every shift like we can," Gaborik said. "We haven't done that lately. We have to do that. We have to be more consistent and just play like we can.
"We know how to do that. We just have to translate it onto the ice."
Could hitting a crisis point like the Washington game be the jolt the Kings needed?
"We can't let it happen to this point where we have a game like that, especially in the position we are in right now," Gaborik said. "We need every point. We need wins, especially on the road. We need to turn it around. Everybody in here has to produce, myself. We need to be better."
Said defenseman Matt Greene: "We're down to crunch time. There's no waiting around anymore, waiting for things to get going, waiting for guys to find their game."
Two of the Kings' better games in the second half came after short breaks. They beat the Sharks following the Christmas vacation and rallied three times from one-goal deficits to defeat the Blackhawks at Staples Center after the All-Star break.
Their championship pedigree has surfaced. But not consistently.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
The salary cap is of great concern to Lombardi, who is juggling numbers for several players who can become free agents after this season. Right wing Justin Williams, center Jarret Stoll and defenseman Robyn Regehr can become unrestricted free agents, while Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan will be restricted free agents. In addition, the Kings can sign center Anze Kopitar to an extension after July 1. His contract expires after next season....
“It’s a matter of how all these pieces fit into the puzzle,” Lombardi said Tuesday, after the Kings prepared for their game against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center. “Then we also have this whole thing with the Canadian dollar. I’ve been talking to other GMs about that. It’s a crazy way to run a cap. Do I need a stat guy or do I need a currency trader to figure this out?”
Lombardi said he and Jeff Solomon, the Kings’ cap expert, have talked to their players’ representatives about new contracts but the Kings have generally held off on going too far because they want to get a better idea of where the cap might fall the next few seasons. Lombardi also said he’s waiting to see if Mike Richards, who was waived and sent to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League last week, can get his game back because Richards has five seasons left at a cap hit of $5.75 million, a sizable chunk of any payroll.
via The White House,
The President honors the 2014 NHL Champion Los Angeles Kings and the 2014 MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy.
The event is scheduled to begin at 2:10pm ET.
WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, February 2, President Obama will welcome the 2014 NHL Champion Los Angeles Kings and the 2014 MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy to honor the teams on winning their Championship titles. This visit will continue the tradition begun by President Obama of honoring sports teams for their efforts to give back to their communities.
WHEN: Monday, February 2, 2:00 PM EST
from Dan Arritt at ESPNChicago,
"It’s frustrating." Crawford said. "We played a good game, and [the Kings scored] two quick ones at the end. I guess everyone can pretty much tell how we feel about that one."
Crawford was clearly unhappy with some of the calls that were made -- or not made -- during the game but passed on making any comments regarding the officiating.
Patrick Kane wasn't so reserved, pointing to a slash in the final minutes that resulted in a broken stick but wasn't called. He also referred to a penalty earlier in the game on Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook for using his hand to pull the puck out from under his backside as he sat in the middle of the slot, something he claimed the Kings had done just prior to the penalty.
"There were a couple calls that could have been made," Kane said. "[The referees] were maybe playing catch-up after we had three power plays [in the first period] and evened the score a little bit."
from Curtis Zupke at NHL.com,
The Kings play 20 of the remaining 35 games on the road, where they are 5-9-6. The only teams with fewer road wins are the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres.
"It's big," Jeff Carter said of their upcoming stretch. "We're not in the position we'd like to be, and we're running out of games."
Several factors have contributed to the Kings' slide, which includes a 2-4-5 finish before the break. The most glaring is their record away from Staples Center, which contrasts their 23-14-4 road record last season.
"If it doesn't [anger you] as a player, you shouldn't be playing at this level," Brown said. "But as individuals, as teams, as coaches, you pore over video and stats and this and that. We need to figure it out. Again, it's something we're going to have to figure out very quickly here because of the situation and how many road games we have.
"But ... historically, our team, when our backs are against the wall, we dig down and find a way. It's one of those situations. It's going to be an important 30-or-so games left."
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
A Calgary Sun source confirms GM Brad Treliving has discussed the possibility of acquiring the 29-year-old centre from the team he helped to win two Stanley Cups in the last three years.
Make no mistake, it would be a long shot for the Kings to be able to peddle the fourth-liner who still has five years left in his contract at a cap hit of US$5.75 million annually.
Given Richards’ decline in speed and productivity, Kings GM Dean Lombardi will have to be plenty creative to free the club of Richards, who cleared waivers Tuesday morning and was assigned to Manchester of the AHL to save the club $925,000 in salary-cap relief.
Given how much room the Flames have in salary-cap space they are one of the few teams in the league who may have the palate to stomach the contract, but only if it makes sense on other levels.
Essentially, any team that takes on Richards would be doing the cap-strapped Kings a favour.
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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