Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
NEW YORK (Jan. 9, 2015) -- Peter Laviolette of the Nashville Predators and Darryl Sutter of the Los Angeles Kings will serve as head coaches for the 2015 Honda NHL® All-Star Game in Columbus, the National Hockey League announced today.
Under the All-Star selection process, the head coach of the team with the highest points percentage (points earned divided by total possible points) in the NHL through games of Saturday, Jan. 10 -- the halfway point of the regular season -- earns the right to lead one of the All-Star teams.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Only occasionally this season has General Manager Dean Lombardi seen the Kings resemble the group that blended a strong work ethic, forbidding goaltending and staunch defense to win the Stanley Cup twice in three seasons.
"There's been pockets where it kind of looks like us. You say, 'There it is,' and then it goes the other way," he said. "Lately I think it's been better. We've seen greater pockets of it. But is it where needs to be? No."...
"We're just kind of treading water right now, not really swimming forward, not really swimming back," right wing Justin Williams said Monday. "We're just kind of there, and that's not good enough. It's not OK with us."
The fact that the Kings are not satisfied is encouraging. This group has largely been self-policing, with occasional prods from Coach Darryl Sutter.
The question is whether they have the physical and mental reserves to repeat after three long playoff runs and the unexpected loss of defenseman Slava Voynov to a league-imposed suspension. He has pleaded not guilty to a felony domestic violence charge, and his jury trial is set for March 2 — the day of the trading deadline....
Top-four defensemen like Voynov are hard to find, and the Kings are unlikely to acquire one; if they replace his salary and later get him back, they'd be over the cap and would have to make a move. Lombardi said Monday he can envision Voynov returning this season if a jury determines he's not guilty.
from Rich Hammond of the OC Register,
Kings’ opponents are averaging 28.1 shots on goal per game -- a modest number -- but the Kings have a team-wide save percentage of .913, down from .922 last season.
''We need them to be thinking that they’re in that .950 save percentage (range),’’ Coach Darryl Sutter said. ''That should be in practice, too. When you drop below .920 in this league, you just get average goaltending. It used to be .900 was good, but that’s not anymore. Teams that have both goalies in that .920-plus range, they’re at the top. That’s a high standard, but that’s real. That’s today’s game.’’
That’s not just a high standard, but a nearly impossible one. Chicago’s save percentage of .926 is a league high this season. Since the 2004 lockout, no save percentage has been higher than Ottawa’s .933 in 2013.
Sutter is well known for verbally skewering his goalies through the media and knows that Quick -- arguably the most competitive player on the team -- will use criticism as motivation. Plus, Quick’s save percentage is actually higher now (.917) than it’s been at the end of both of the last two seasons (.915, .902).
more on the Kings...
The Nashville Predators had a fairly comfortable lead over the Los Angeles Kings with a little over two minutes to go in the 3rd period.
17:59 Los Angeles Dwight King (7) ASST: Jake Muzzin (15), Anze Kopitar (20) 6-4
18:56 Los Angeles Alec Martinez (5) ASST: Drew Doughty (20), Jeff Carter (19) 6-5
19:26 Los Angeles Jeff Carter (11) ASST: Anze Kopitar (21), Alec Martinez (11) 6-6
Bet the comeback ended there when Roman Josi scored for the Predators early in OT.
from Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider,
Jake Muzzin shared an interesting viewpoint after the shootout loss in Edmonton two nights ago.
“We’ve got to come out hungrier from the get-go and desperate from the get-go. I think if we do that, we give ourselves a good chance at a hockey game,” he said. “We’ve got to get angry and get mad and bear down and get some points here.”
It was a passionate expression shared shortly after a disappointing loss, so the emotion is understandable. Of course, this team’s “park-and-ride” approach stipulates that this team lets go of wins and losses around the time it leaves the arena, so I was wondering if the team’s recent stretch – the Kings are 7-7-4 in their last 18 games – has, in fact, made the team want to work a little bit of anger into its game. I consulted with alternate captain Matt Greene.
Matt Greene, on whether the team needs to play angrier:
During the course of the game, I think a lot of guys do.
Paul Brownfield of LA Magazine with an excellent look at Darryl Sutter
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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