Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The moment that Dustin Brown came crashing onto the larger NHL playoff stage is easily determined. It occurred during the Los Angeles Kings’ opening-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, when Brown delivered a clean, crunching open-ice hit on Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin. At a time when all manner of body checks were examined under microscopic scrutiny, even Sedin was quick to concede that Brown’s hit was clean.
You can take all the points he’s scored (10 so far); all the plays he’s made shorthanded (which resulted in four goals); and all the quiet leadership Brown provides, but nothing galvanized his team more than that hit at that moment in that series.
L.A. had won the first two games in Vancouver, but they’d also led the Canucks the last time the teams met in the playoffs and eventually faltered. Brown’s hit woke up a sleepy club that, once called to attention, proceeded to march past Vancouver in five games and then subsequently swept the St. Louis Blues out of the second round.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
As the longest-serving current Kings, forwards Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar have been through the worst of hockey times.
Brown, who made his NHL debut during the 2003-04 season, and Kopitar, who made an immediate impact as a rookie in 2006-07, have been there for all the broken promises and unrealized dreams, through coaching changes and baffling lineup shuffles. They allowed their optimism to flower when things changed for the better and persevered when the young team sometimes took two steps back for every three steps forward.
It was only right, then, that Brown and Kopitar were at the center Sunday of the Kings’ most joyous playoff moment in too many years.
Both had waited so long for this, for Kopitar to leap into Brown’s arms and body-slam him to the Staples Center ice after Brown scored an empty-net goal to clinch the Kings’ 3-1 victory and provide the final flourish of their surprising sweep of the No. 2-seeded St. Louis Blues.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The St. Louis Blues didn’t want to use injuries as an excuse for their second-round elimination.
To a man, they stated that the Kings were simply the better team.
But starting with a suspected knee injury that star blueliner Alex Pietrangelo tried to play through and being without No. 1 goalie Jaroslav Halak for most of the playoffs with a suspected ankle injury, it’s clear the Blues were a beat-up bunch.
“We’ll let the injury stuff come out over the next couple of days,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. “But, it’s not great.”
Captain David Backes also played through some sort of stomach ailment, but he didn’t feel like going there either Sunday.
added 9:11pm, Below, find 2 videos, first is Ken Hitchcock post-game and 2nd is Darryl Sutter post-game… Please note, you may have to wait for the video to load, once you see a picture of the coach, hit play. NHL.com must be getting hit hard with video requests.
After round one…
Odds to win the Stanley Cup
St. Louis Blues 15/4
New York Rangers 9/2
Philadelphia Flyers 9/2
Nashville Predators 5/1
Los Angeles Kings 13/2
New Jersey Devils 9/1
Washington Capitals 9/1
Phoenix Coyotes 11/1
Odds to win Western Conference
St. Louis Blues 9/5
Nashville Predators 9/4
Los Angeles Kings 3/1
Phoenix Coyotes 5/1
Before the playoffs started…
The LA Kings defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-1 and win the series 4-0 and become the first team to advance to the Conference Finals.
The Blues head home and can only think what could have been.
Here’s the winning goal by Dustin Brown…
added 6:55pm. Watch a video below of the Kings celebration and handshake line as an extra benefit, some of the players words are picked up too…
added 7:11pm A second video added below, the Kings in their dressing room post-game…
from Tom Hoffarth of the LA Daily News,
The puck drops, and Bob Miller and Jim Fox have nothing to say about it.
Their usual Staples Center mid-ice TV booth has been overtaken by a bunch of foreigners. A Canadian broadcast team, for cryin’ out loud.
So to view Game 3 of the Kings’ Western Conference semifinal series against St. Louis, Miller and Fox were kicked upstairs, wedged into the press box with the rest of the germ-carrying media types, those who sniffle to fight off another cold coming on or dab their noses to keep it from bleeding because of the altitude change above the 300-level section.
Seated about 100 yards apart from each other, Miller and Fox might as well have strung up a couple of tin cans to keep in contact and perhaps call the game for the rest of the die-hard fans sitting up that high.
Is this any way to treat L.A. hockey broadcast royalty?
from Eric Stephens of the OC Register,
History is at hand for the Kings, and Drew Doughty witnessed up close what the power of a potential Stanley Cup run does to a long-suffering fan base.
The bandwagon effect already has spread to Angel Stadium of all places, where Doughty and teammate Trevor Lewis watched Doughty’s favorite team, the Toronto Blue Jays, blank the Angels on Friday.
“That was the most I’ve ever got recognized,” Doughty said Saturday. “People coming up to me for autographs and pictures. That’s the most that’s ever happened in L.A. for me.
“They threw us on the Jumbotron. I’m sure still half the crowd didn’t know who we were or anything like that. (But) we’ve never had this kind of support in here. It’s great to see and it just makes us want to go even further and win even more.”
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
This is not a series being won with skill and strategy, but rather with hunger and discipline, which is all the more frustrating for a team that lived on those qualities all year long.
Being beaten at your own game is no fun.
“I think the frustration is we’re getting done to us what we’ve done to teams all year,” said Hitchcock. “We were frustrating the opposition, discouraging them. Now we’re getting it done to us and we didn’t react very well.
“We have to learn to fight through this stuff. I think we’ve gotten discouraged at times and got off the plan at times because of it.”
While the Blues are talking about how they’re beating themselves, how they still haven’t played their best game, most impartial observers believe the reason for LA’s 3-0 in simple: The Kings are a better team.
from Dan Arritt of ESPN Los Angeles,
Sutter has been at the controls since just before Christmas, taking over for Terry Murray, who set the formula in place but was unable to stir the drink. Sutter has definitely brought his own motivational tools. A dry humor just happens to be one of them.
“He pushes the right buttons,” said team captain Dustin Brown. “One problem we had as a team before he got here was getting emotionally attached to games. He brought that emotional level up. You can do all the Xs and Os right, but if you’re not emotionally attached, it’s real hard to win in this league.”
Brown said Sutter accomplishes that by grinding players to get better everyday, but also knowing when to pat them on the back.
It doesn’t hurt to interject a light-hearted moment along the way.
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
Finally, the names Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille and Kelly Hrudey are on the verge of having some long-awaited company, some fresh names in the Kings’ playoff ledger.
How about Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick, to name a few?
The Kings are one game away from going somewhere they have been only one other time in franchise history, going past the second round of the playoffs. The Kings pulled to the brink of the Western Conference finals with a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night at Staples Center, taking a 3-0 series lead.
The Kings used a wide variety of weapons to inch closer that place they visited 19 years ago on their way to the Stanley Cup finals when they eventually lost to Montreal in 1993.
“I think the one thing that stands out to me in these playoffs so far is we’ve had different guys step up at different times,” Brown said. “I think Quick maybe had two really difficult saves in the third and they were big saves for us, but we got a big game out of Richards and a big game out of [Drew] Doughty.
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.
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