Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
Down 0-2 as they head to Los Angeles.
Scoring has become a problem and they 0-for on the power play this series too.
The Kings on the other hand, just need to keep doing what they have been. Don’t get too fancy or think you have the game won before hitting the ice.
Watch the highlights of the 5-2 win tonight.
Discuss both game in the comments if you’d like. I say this is more of a must win game for the Blues than the Capitals, since a loss would drop the Blues to 0-2 with both being home losses.
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
* If Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo can play in Game 2, which now seems possible, it will be a terrific triumph for the Blues, and an uplifting development in this series. If Petro can play, the Kings would have failed in the attempt to rub him out. And the Blues will have regained the services of their best all-around player. More than that, this comes down to a matter of right and wrong. The NHL has lost its moral compass, allowing predators to pick off the sports’ most skilled players—with only the occasional, meaningful punishment. And that’s so wrong on so many levels, it makes you sick. Well, if Pietrangelo can make it back, it’s a small victory for the good guys. The kids like Petro who are the youngest, brightest and best that this sport has to offer.
* Think about this, however: with the NHL looking the other way and allowing Dwight King to get away with his attempt to take Pietrangelo out, what do the Kings have planned if Pietrangelo returns? He may be vulnerable. You don’t think they’re talking about that on the LA side today? Please.
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