Kukla's Korner Hockey
Things are getting dire for the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings, though their remaining six games include two against the also-ran Edmonton Oilers and one against soon-to-be eliminated San Jose. Their best hope was to finish third in the Pacific and face the Canucks, who flinch at the Kings' physical game, but the Kings now trail third-place Calgary by three points and by three in the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker. The Kings have overcome daunting odds before, but this might be their toughest task.
-Helene Elliott of the LA Times.
from Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider,
“They were very effective,” he said. “I’ve said it lots, right? You need everybody every shift to make the playoffs. Kopi’s line was a little off last night. Basically, all it is is Koivu’s line – three big players – dominated the game.”
And while the Kings are still fighting to get into the playoffs, and while Minnesota has risen past the wild-card fray into a divisional playoff berth for the time being (and perhaps longer), Sutter crossed one particular landing point off the postseason itinerary.
“Everybody’s trying to make the playoffs,” he said while rejecting an allusion that the team would face another “desperate” team in the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. “We still have the opportunity to get home ice, as ‘desperate’ as we are. We still have the opportunity to go home in two weeks, so it’s one of the two. You’re not going to get a wild-card spot. The wild-card’s out of the picture.”
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
We always refer to the trip Eastern Conference teams make through Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim as the "California gauntlet", but the swing through the New York metro area isn't exactly a cake walk for Western teams. Cory Schneider has been an absolute wall for the Devils, while the New York Islanders and New York Rangers are high-end playoff teams.
That's what makes the Los Angeles Kings' march through that portion of their schedule so impressive. They beat the Devils, Rangers and Islanders by a combined score of 10-5 over the last week. The winning goal over the Islanders on Thursday night was vintage Kings: the trio of Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams put in a dominant shift in the offensive zone that led to Kopitar scoring the game-winner.
If they keep this up, the reigning champs may not only make the playoffs, but could end up earning home ice in the first round.
read on for Strang on the Senators, LeBrun on the Panthers and more...
from Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider,
The Kings are surely trying to focus on their own game – and Darryl Sutter said as much this morning – but it’s impossible not to acknowledge that the five-game road trip that opens tonight in New Jersey pits Los Angeles against an array of dangerous teams and Stanley Cup contenders.
Players and coaches will often say that winning the first game of an extended road trip is important, which would make tonight’s game against the Devils, who have the fewest points of any opponent on the trip, a crucially important game on trip that could “make-or-break” the Kings’ playoff chances.
“Yeah, we’ve got to look at it that way,” Anze Kopitar said. “I think a lot, not all of it, is going to depend on this road trip. Obviously you’re playing east teams where you have to get points to pretty much keep pace. We’re going to have to bring it, for sure.”...
So never mind that they’ll also play tomorrow night against the President’s Trophy-chasing New York Rangers, or on Thursday against a New York Islanders team looking to lock down home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Forget about Saturday’s game against red hot Minnesota and Monday’s Western Conference Final rematch against Chicago.
Kopitar temporarily removed the late season blinders to speak about the importance of this upcoming stretch.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Mike Richards is back with the Los Angeles Kings, and you have to wonder just what kind of player we're going to see after Richards' late-January assignment to the AHL.
Richards had 14 points in 16 AHL games, with the organization on him to improve his conditioning. Kings GM Dean Lombardi always told me there was a chance Richards would be a late-season recall, and now here we are.
There are a few factors in it the decision, including the fact that veteran center Jarret Stoll remains out with an injury and the team doesn't know how long he will be out. Stoll still isn't skating yet. So that's left the Kings a little young down the middle, with Nick Shore and Andy Andreoff as part of the group of centers on the big club. But as a team source told me Sunday, this is also about the team needing some energy.
The Kings are two points out of a playoff spot and need a spark as they begin a critical five-game road trip Monday in New Jersey. It's do or die for Los Angeles.
read on for Burnside and McDonald on the Bruins, Strang on the Rangers and Powers on Detroit/St. Louis...
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings have recalled forward Mike Richards from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced today.
The 5-11, 199-pound native of Kenora, Ontario appeared in 16 games with Manchester during his assignment, tallying 14 points (3-11=14), a plus-6 rating and four penalty minutes. He has played in 46 games with the Kings this season with the Kings, registering 15 points (5-10=15) and 39 penalty minutes. He played in his 700th NHL game, Jan. 12 vs. TOR and recorded his 300th career assist, Dec. 12 at MTL. He had played 224 consecutive games dating back to Dec. 22, 2011, the longest active streak on the Kings.
Tyler Toffoli was assessed a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for crosschecking Alex Burrows from five feet into the boards on a line change.
Watch as Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin collides with Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and Eddie Lack thinks about fighting.
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings have activated defenseman Alec Martinez off of injured reserve, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced today.
A fourth round (95th overall) selection of the Kings at the 2007 NHL Draft, Martinez has played in 45 games this season, registered 17 points (5-12=17), a plus-11 rating and eight penalty minutes. Martinez missed 18 games due to an upper-body injury and was placed on injured reserve Feb. 7.
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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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