Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
The Los Angeles Kings playing their first home game of the series, defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-2.
The Kings now lead the Blues 3-0 in the series which forces the Blues to win the next four games. The two teams play again on Sunday at 3:00pm ET.
Will the next game be the last one for the Blues?
Update: Here’s NHL.com’s slate of game highlights:
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
So this is my wish for Game 3 tonight in LA: I hope the Blues show up, and play with tenacity and purpose. I hope the Blues are stronger mentally, which will cut down on the foolish mistakes that hurt them so terribly in the first two games.
I hope the Blues are more committed physically against a big LA team, and start winning more of those battles in tight spaces. I hope the Blues’ best players start playing like the Blues’ best players. I hope Alex Pietrangelo can give this team a boost if he returns in Game 3, and that fellow defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk can get his game in order. I hope the Blues forwards remember that their persistent, effective backchecking was an important factor in the team’s superb defensive performance this season. It’s time to work harder.
It would be a shame for the Blues to go quietly, and submit weakly, in the remainder of this series. I want to see the Blues make an honest stand, and give everything they have, to extend this series and give themselves a chance. I don’t want to lose respect for the Blues. I want to feel positive about the season. But if the Blues roll over in Los Angeles, they’ll trash much of the respect and admiration they’d earned this season.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
When Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi was drawing it all up on paper back in September, this is how he imagined it would unfold – the way the first period did against the St. Louis Blues this past weekend.
There was Mike Richards, acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers to add depth and leadership, scoring right off the bat, 30 seconds in, to create early momentum.
There was Anze Kopitar, his No. 1 centre, crafting a beautiful short-handed goal, using his size and his reach to turn the opposing goaltender, Brian Elliott, into a pretzel.
There was his captain, Dustin Brown, creating the takeaway on Kopitar’s goal with aggressive fore-checking.
There was other Dustin, Penner – before the pancake debacle – fitting in nicely on the second line with Richards, bulling to the net to set up the opening goal.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Darryl Sutter’s squad has the look of a team that is planning to play into June. There are no passengers on this club right now. Every player on this team finishes checks, blocks shots and pays the price to get into the hard areas of the ice.
No. 8 seeds? Puh-lease. Talk about false advertising. These guys should have won the Pacific Division.
“We’ve always known what we had,” said veteran Kings forward Jarret Stoll, the OT hero in their series-clinching win over Vancouver. “We’ve always known what kind of players we had and what kind of team we could have. We just kept pushing, staying positive, never got too down. You know, you just have to peak at the right time. We’ve all seen it before with teams that have done well. It’s not always the team that wins the Presidents’ Trophy that wins the Cup.”
The one-two punch at center of Anze Kopitar and Richards is proving unrelenting in its offensive pressure, yet at the same time stellar for its defensive prowess. It’s 200 feet of pure dominance for the top two lines of the Kings.
Best goal of the night, no doubt, Anze Kopitar’s shorty against the Blues followed below by the best hit of the night from T.J. Oshie on Dustin Penner.
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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