Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
... What I do remember, though, is how the Kings felt in September, buoyed by the feeling they were getting, players showing up early for camp with the sense their focus was different than the last time they had to defend a title. Well, just like almost every other team that's won a Stanley Cup over the past 15 years or so, the hangover is in full effect.
As Scott mentioned, the Kings limp into the break sitting one point out of a playoff spot. I fully expect the defending champs to make the playoffs, but it's just eating at management to see how it's played out so far this seeason. The rope-a-dope thing, where the Kings turn it on just in time late in the season, is getting old for the L.A. front office.
Let's be fair, though, and note that losing Slava Voynov was impactful, because top-four blue-liners don't grow on trees. I suspect you'll see a trade or two before the March 2 deadline from GM Dean Lombardi, who's never scared to tweak his roster. Should be an interesting final two and a half months of the regular season in L.A.
read on for Custance on Penguins/Blackhawks, Strang on a ASG replacement for Bobrovsky and Burnside on the Avalanche...
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
If there is a price to be paid for playing 11 playoff series and 64 playoff games in the past three years, one can argue that the Kings are making that payment right now.
As of Tuesday, the reigning Stanley Cup champion Kings are on the outside looking in, out of a playoff spot, trailing the Calgary Flames by one point for the last Western Conference spot. The Flames finished 23 points behind the Kings in the final standings last season.
The Kings have one more game before the All-Star break, at San Jose on Wednesday, a symbolic point of the season.
"We've set ourselves up to be in a dogfight now," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "We didn't set ourselves up so we could be more comfortable."...
"They have to keep understanding and listening to what I'm telling them about how tough it is," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said Tuesday. "The train has got to be a work train, not the Stanley Cup train. The Stanley Cup train was last year and some guys just have to get off that train. There's no extra for it. You get nothing for it."
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
The ceremony the Kings staged to retire Rob Blake's jersey was very much like Blake himself: unpretentious, mostly understated but illuminated by genuine emotion that hit home as hard as any punch to the gut.
The emotional jolts Saturday weren't as obvious as the thunderous hip checks that became Blake's trademark, one of many facets of an outstanding two-way game that earned him induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame last year.
The most affecting moments during the 35-minute ceremony were the respect that made Dustin Brown's voice quiver as he praised Blake for teaching a bunch of players how to be a real team and begin the transformation of the Kings from wannabes to winners, and the passion displayed by General Manager Dean Lombardi for the man he called "one of our greatest Kings," who passed every possible test of athletic greatness.
Below, watch Rob Blake's speech and the banner raising ceremony...
LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles Kings captain/defenseman and current club executive Rob Blake will have his No. 4 jersey retired by the Kings as part of a special pregame ceremony at STAPLES Center this Saturday, January 17, prior to the Kings-Ducks game.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
There’s on-ice business and off-ice business. In Los Angeles, nothing is more important than the latter, with the organization trying to win its third Stanley Cup in four years.
This season is a little different, as Dean Lombardi works to solidify the roster while the players work to handle the puck. Two important defencemen — Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin — are now locked-in long-term. They are trying to find common ground with Justin Williams, the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy winner. Still to come are negotiations with the likes of Kyle Clifford, Martin Jones, Tanner Pearson, Jarret Stoll, Tyler Toffoli…
And Anze Kopitar.
Kopitar is under contract for one more year at $6.8 million. The Kings can extend him come July 1 (just like Tampa with Steven Stamkos), and he’s just as important to Manhattan Beach as Stamkos is to Clearwater. No one expects this to be a problem, as Kopitar is happy in Los Angeles and the team recognizes his exponential value.
continued plus 30 Thoughts...
Follow Marian Gaborik on the play...
Read what Kerry Fraser of TSN thinks of the goal...
from dan Robson of Sportsnet,
The first time Anze Kopitar brought the Stanley Cup to Slovenia, thousands of fans packed into a soccer field in his hometown, where a stage was erected in his honour. He was driven through the crowd in a horse-drawn carriage as fans stretched their arms over the top of the people in front of them to try and snap a picture of the local legend with his silver mug.
They chanted “Anze, Anze, Anze,” and a row of young hockey players on the stage tapped their sticks in salute. Kopitar hoisted the Cup high above his head and all those in attendance pretended to lift it with him. It was the first time a player from Slovenia had won the Stanley Cup, and the first time hockey’s grail had visited the picturesque nation of two million that borders Austria, Croatia, Italy and Hungary. Many of those people had stayed up through the nights to watch Kopitar and the Los Angeles Kings battle the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 NHL final.
He was a national hero, an icon—the “wonder boy,”as local media called him. “It’s kind of like Brad Pitt walking around here,” says Justin Williams, Kopitar’s longtime Kings teammate, who visited his friend’s hometown the summer they first won the Cup. “Everyone knows who he is.”
For nearly a decade, Kopitar has been one of the best all-around players in the game. And yet, it seems, not everyone knows who Kopitar is. Playing on the West Coast in a city of stars, his local celebrity is naturally muted. And though he’s been one of the most consistent and effective two-way centres in the game, he is routinely left out of discussions about hockey’s greatest players.
from Rich Hammond of the OC Register,
The Kings lost a lot on Saturday, including their top two young wingers and a chance at a remarkable comeback victory.
After a wild start, in which Winnipeg scored goals on its first three shots, the Kings rallied and took a third-period lead but then lost 5-4 in a shootout in front of 18,230 at Staples Center.
The result seemed secondary to the fact that the Kings must now go forward without both Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, two of their top four goal scorers this season.
Shortly before the game, the Kings announced that Toffoli had been diagnosed with nononucleosis, an energy-sapping virus that will sideline him for multiple weeks.
Then, during the second period, Pearson battled with Winnipeg's Jay Harrison and went feet-first into the boards. Pearson has initially been diagnosed with a broken left ankle, as first reported on the Kings' official blog late Saturday night, but Pearson is scheduled to undergo more tests Sunday.
via Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider,
Tanner Pearson, who crashed heavily into the boards during a second period scoring opportunity in Saturday’s 5-4 shootout loss to Winnipeg, suffered a broken bone in his left leg, LA Kings Insider has learned. At this point, there is no timetable for his return.
“They told us he would not return, so I’ll give you more information as we go along,” Darryl Sutter said after the game when asked if he was able to provide any information on the nature of the injury.
A reliable source told LA Kings Insider during the second intermission that the injury was a broken ankle, information that hockey operations confirmed. A follow-up conversation with a third source said that the injury may be located more in the lower leg, and not the ankle.
Below, watch the Pearson injury...
Dustin Byfuglien with hits on Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar in the first minute of play last night.
Byfuglien did receive a hooking penatly for the Kopitar hit.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org