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Category: Los-Angeles-Kings

The Kings’ Penalty Kill May Make The Difference

from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,

Special teams, we are always told, are the difference between champions and also-rans in the NHL playoffs.

Well, based on recent evidence, that is half-right, which might spell trouble for the New Jersey Devils when they open the Stanley Cup final Wednesday at home against the Los Angeles Kings. For it is penalty killing that is the crucial difference for Cup champions, not the power play, which gives the edge on paper to the Kings.

In the last four years, only one team, the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks, that won the Stanley Cup cracked the top five in the postseason power-play statistics. However, all four champions except the Boston Bruins last year were in the top five in penalty killing. But the Bruins’ 84.4-per-cent success rate in 2011, which was sixth, was better than the Blackhawks in 2010 (83.3) and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 (83.3). In 2008, the Detroit Red Wings were fourth in the NHL playoffs with a success rate of 85.7 per cent.

So far in this year’s playoffs, the Kings’ power play is almost the same as the feeble unit iced by the 2011 Bruins, which was 14th among the 16 teams in the playoffs with an 11.4-per-cent success rate. The Kings are an embarrassing 8.1-per-cent on the power play, which puts them 15th in the post-season ranking.

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Are Your Rooting For The Kings Who Have A Canadian Connection?

from Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun,

No Vancouver Canucks since April 22. No Canadian teams since the Ottawa Senators quickly followed the Canucks out the first-round door. No Original Six teams. No Leafs - now wouldn’t that be something? - no Habs, no Rangers, Wings or Bruins. Not even the bitter-enemy Chicago Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup Final so Canuck faithful can root against them.

Instead, it’s Hollywood versus Newark, N.J., in this year’s NHL finale. Do you care? Should you care? Will you be watching? Or perhaps opting for a coed game of slo-pitch? Maybe even scraping the moss off your garage roof?

If you’re waffling, sitting on the fence and procrastinating, let us be your guiding light with these five reasons to watch the 2012 Stanley Cup Final that starts Wednesday:

5 Kings of Canadian content. The Devils’ roster is heavily based with Euros and Americans, so the Kings are the princes of Canadian content in this series. You can count ‘em up: 15 lads from the Great White North playing in La-La Land. We’ve already noted the presence of Willie Mitchell and Colin Fraser. Other good Canadian boys on the Kings going from west to east include: Saskatchewan’s Jarret Stoll and Dwight King; Manitoba’s Dustin Penner; Ontario’s Drew Doughty, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams, Brad Richardson, Jordan Nolan, Kyle Clifford and Kevin Westgarth; and Quebec’s Jonathan Bernier and Simon Gagne. Lest we forget Kings head coach Darryl Sutter, the Jolly Rancher from Viking, Alta.

read on for the other four reasons…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Top 10 Plays Of The Conference Finals

Video provided by The Score...

Filed in: NHL Teams, d, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

With A Break In The NHL Action, Will People Come Back To The Stanley Cup Final?

from Damien Cox of Ths Spin at the Toronto Star,

Then there’s the big one, the Stanley Cup, although the NHL hype machine is going to have to go into overdrive to make this one into a big attraction. The games will decide whether folks will be drawn into the best-of-seven series between Los Angeles and New Jersey; on its own, this one just isn’t that sexy. The NHL ceded ground in the continental sports conversation on the weekend to baseball, the endless NBA playoffs and the Indy 500, while north of the border cyclist Ryder Hesjedal stole all the biggest headlines.

Getting that attention back is going to be heavy lifting for the NHL.

Newark and downtown L.A. are almost movie studios, like false fronts in old westerns, when it comes to hockey. The game isn’t native to either location, and what they’ve been trying to sell with mixed success in SoCal for the past 45 years since Jack Kent Cooke brought hockey to the region still hasn’t taken permanent roots in New Jersey, where a shift from burbs of East Rutherford to the hardscrabble streets of Newark has yet to produce a positive change in attendance or interest.

Indeed, it’s at least theoretically possible the Devils might win the Cup next month and then soon after declare bankruptcy. We shall see.

more

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Late Evening Line

“The style we’re watching? It is boring hockey. Really boring. Out-muscling, out-bumping. The game’s almost all played along the boards. In my day, as soon as I got the puck, I faced the play. Now, you watch (Anze) Kopitar, the way he protects the puck. He puts his back towards the defenceman, the defenceman can’t do anything. He goes to the left. Then he comes back to the right.

“In the meantime, nothing happens.

“Very seldom do you see a forward beat a defenceman one-on-one. Doesn’t happen. And the way Wayne (Gretzky) used to curl and trap guys? Very, very few players do this now. There’s just no room out there. And I think most of the guys are restricted in what they’re allowed to do.

“Sometimes you didn’t watch the game and later that night you see a replay and you say, `Oh, what a spectacular play! Must’ve been a great game!’ But that was the only frickin’ play in the whole frickin’ game.’‘

-Marcel Dionne, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.  George Johnson of the Calgary Herald via Canada.com has more from Dionne, mostly LA Kings talk…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: marcel+dionne

10 Stanley Cup Final Facts

from ESPN Stats and Information,

1. This is the first time in NHL history that two American-born captains will square off in the Stanley Cup finals. Either Dustin Brown (Kings, Ithaca, N.Y.) or Zach Parise (Devils, Minneapolis) will join Derian Hatcher as the only U.S.-born captains of a Stanley Cup-winning team. Hatcher was the Dallas Stars’ captain when they won the Cup in 1999.

2. Martin Brodeur will attempt to become the ninth player in NHL history (and second goaltender) to win the Stanley Cup in three different decades. Brodeur played on Cup winners in 1995, 2000 and 2003.

From the Elias Sports Bureau:
Players to Win Stanley Cup in 3 Different Decades
Dit Clapper, Maurice Richard, Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau, Joe Nieuwendyk, Claude Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Mark Recchi.

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Travel May Become An Issue

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

Brodeur joked after Friday’s victory that after riding nothing but buses for the last two rounds, he and his teammates will be happy to eventually get on a plane. By Western Conference standards, the Kings have had decent travel thus far in the playoffs too. Monday’s flight takes just under six hours, which according to Sutter, is long enough to tax the body physically.

Sutter said he started getting used to the travel in his days with the San Jose Sharks.

“The toughest part is not going, but coming back,” said Sutter. “Everybody’s different, but when you look at the schedule, the Saturday-Monday is a tough turnaround, for both teams. If you go eight o’clock, then five o’clock, that’s a tough turnaround. Even if it’s just a normal game and you only play three periods, you’re not getting out of there until midnight. So you’re getting in here at 3 in the morning, with the time change, and then you turn it around and play the next day at 5. That’s the toughest part of the series, right there.”

more on New Jersey and Los Angeles…

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Conn Smythe Candidates

from Bob McKenzie of TSN,

My top three candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy haven’t changed much from the last round. Kings captain Dustin Brown leads the way with teammate Anze Kopitar nipping at his heels and Travis Zajac of the Devils also in the running.

You can go a lot of different ways with Brown. He leads his team in goals, including game-winners, and points, including the shorthanded variety, and he’s tied with Kopitar in plus/minus. He’s also got the most penalty minutes, the most hits, he draws the most penalties and he makes the other team the most angry.

Early in the playoffs, it looked like it was going to be the Jonathan Quick show but it’s turned into the Dustin Brown show.

more notes on the two SCF teams…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The Key Matchup In The Stanley Cup Final

from Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside of ESPN,

Devils centers vs. Kings’ dynamic depth down the middle: The Kings have won the center battle throughout the playoffs against Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix, and it’s a big reason for their success. Kopitar and Richards are a dynamic 1-2 punch down the middle but don’t forget the veteran Stoll, who has provided clutch two-way hockey as the team’s No. 3 center. The Devils will counter with a group of lesser-known pivots but let’s not underestimate the work done by Travis Zajac this spring. He lost most of the regular season to injury but his seven goals are one off the playoff lead. He will center the Devils’ top line and could see a lot of Richards as a result. Adam Henrique, the overtime hero in Game 6 of the conference finals, might be the key to this matchup. A Calder Trophy nominee as rookie of the year, he played the last part of the conference finals with Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias, and DeBoer said the only time he has seen Henrique nervous was playing cards with Kovalchuk. And then there’s Josefson, whose return to the lineup in Game 4 of the conference finals coincided with a Devils revival. Speaking of centers, the Devils rank last of all 16 postseason teams in faceoff percentage.

read on as LeBrun and Burnside break down the series and make their predictions…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

No Longer A Dream For Kings Fans

from John Horn of the LA Times,

Sheri Patko plans to visit her father’s grave in Costa Mesa and thank him for introducing her to the sport. Charles Kinninger aims to fly with his family from Guadalajara to Los Angeles to witness history. And Blake Kidder might get a tattoo memorializing the unprecedented event.

Los Angeles Kings fans have endured 45 seasons without ever winning a championship. While that futility can’t match the drought baseball’s Chicago Cubs have experienced, hockey supporters finally believe that the Kings’ turn has arrived. The prospects of a first-ever Stanley Cup now have the team’s longest-suffering fans struggling to come to terms with how redemptive, if not still incomprehensible, a championship could be.

Like North Korean rocket scientists who keep trying despite years of failed launches, wary Kings fans hope for success but fear that the object of their affection will go down in flames. In a city where the Lakers and the Dodgers are expected to triumph and often have, the Kings at best have shown occasional flashes of mediocrity. But hard-core fans remain hopelessly loyal.

“It feels like you’re in a dream, that you’re waiting to wake up, that somebody is playing a trick on you,” said Kidder, 34, who works in advertising and recently relocated to Boston from Los Angeles. She became a Kings fan when she was 12.

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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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