Friday, September 11, 2009

Mark Hardy: High/Low (& his camp MVP)

Caught up with Mark Hardy following game two of the prospect series versus Phoenix. He said the difference in the game today vs. the opening game slaughter was the King's forecheck. The kids really had it going this afternoon.

When asked to play the latest installment of High/Low Hardy offered the following:

HIGH - They way the whole unit competed. The kids really brought it today. Everything from offense, defense, the fights. It was a very balanced attack.

LOW - They needed to shoot more. Some people might not see that when you win 4-0. However, they had plenty more chances they didn't take advantage of today. Actually, that was one of the key contrasts to yesterday's game. Last night their goalie saw everything. That's why he was able to stop everything. Today, they kids needed to shoot more. The chances were there.

His "low" must have still been lingering when we later spoke about the pros starting camp this weekend and what was top of mind for him to help the guys work on next week. One word came to mind - offense. He says when you score 114 5-on-5 goals the season before developing a "shot mentality" should be first and foremost. He wants to see them crash the net more and build on the solid defensive foundation established last season.

Finally, I asked him about his MVP of the two game series. He started by saying that obviously Schenn was going to get a lot of mention after scoring two goals today. Yet, he would have to select Kyle Clifford...saying he played hard every shift, showed tons of grit and looked like a true power forward. Hardy claimed when Clifford starts to balance all of those traits out a little bit he will become the player they were hoping for when they drafted him.

Thanks Harpo. Take it easy on the dancing this week. Camp #2 is starting. The playoff push begins now.

One19

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Coyotes turned away, Not on the list

Like yesterday, if you paid the $10 cover charge, you were allowed to enter Club TSC in El Segundo today. After basically storming the place en mass last night, the Coyotes were turned away today. Apparently, they weren't on the list. One by one, young Coyote after another was denied by today's doorman... #75 Jean-Francois Berube.

This 18 year old kid, just recently acquired in the June Entry draft, was more than up to the task of fending off the pesky kids from Arizona today. What better way to forget the pains of yesterday's game than with a solid 60 minutes of hockey today?

Seemed like a good remedy to the roughly 350 in attendance. Throughout the game they were cheering the goals and oohing (and then aahing) at the slick moves of #48 Andrei Loktionov. Damn he's fun to watch.

Just as the collective team looked completely different than the lethargic performance of last night, so did one Mr Brayden Schenn. That's #55 for those scoring along at home. He netted the first two goals of the game before the 10-minute mark of the first.
If you read yesterday's article, you know I'm a fan of guys keeping the goalie involved after scoring. This became contagious today (in a good way). After Schenn's second, #85 Geoff Walker (of course!) was the first guy down to tap Berube. Quickly behind him were Schenn and Hickey. By the fourth goal later in the game all five guys on the ice made it down to Berube. Nice to see!
Shortly after Schenn's second goal we were back to the the theme of this two game series - fight, fight, fight.

LA #74 Dwight King agreed to "go" after Phx #24 Jonas Ahnelov (one of two "A" wearing Coyotes, discussed yesterday) requested a dance. King started it off with a short elbow to Ahnelov's face, followed by three right hands - one of which landed near Ahnelov's shoulder causing it to separate. The fight was immediately stopped and the Yotes "A" was lead of the ice and back to the locker room for further evaluation.

Yesterday there were a few points in the game where Phx player X would start jawing with Kings player Y...only to virtually "tag out" and let Phx player Z handle the fight with Kings player Y.

It wasn't like player Z was coming to the aid of the first player.  It was more like X changed his mind and was like "Here, you do it."

Today saw more of this strange behavior. Specifically, Phx #57 Igor Gogalsky starts running his mouth - HARD - won't stop even after the play is over. Then he hands it off to Phx #59 Sena Acolatse who is more than ready when the puck drops. Bamn, its on.

Unfortunately for him, LA's Kyle Clifford beats him down...including the always crowd pleasing, Donkey Kong fist smash on TOP of his head. That might work in video games, not so much on the ice though.

LA #79 Colten Teubert played with much more discipline today. He was still nasty and plenty aggressive. Just properly restrained.

One funny moment saw Phx #71 Kyle Hagel practically begging Mr. Nasty to scrap with him. We're talking several minutes of trying to goad him. Teubert just flat ignored him like he wasn't even there. Pretty funny to watch.

Other random notes:

* There was even some hair pulling during the fight between LA #77 Dennis McCauley and Phx #57 Igor Gogalsky.

* LA #80 Nicolas Deslauriers looked solid...again...especially during the first half of the game.

* LA #37 Hickey played more like the guy he was with Team Canada.

* LA #76 Viatcheslav Voynov scored with a nice shot from the blue line. It was going in from the moment it left his stick.

* LA #48 Andrei Loktionov is a joy to watch. So fast. So skilled. This was just on one shift - he splits two defenders at the blue line to keep pressure with the puck, followed about 20 seconds later with an elusive move along the boards (on the other side of the ice) preventing a Coyotes player from creaming him. It's like he is one step mentally ahead of everybody else on the ice.

* LA #64 Kyle Clifford had a solid, all around game. With one minor exception...how in the world did he miss that open net at around the 8 minute mark of the second? Man. There was so much space Ivanans could have easily put it in.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. likes to say "Step your game up." The Kings did.

I wonder what kind of shenanigans will be taking place on the bus ride back to Phoenix tonight?

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
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New Feature - High/Low with LA Kings coach Terry Murray

Today begins the launch of a new feature here at Mayors Manor...

It's a little piece called High/Low, where the object is to give your "high" and "low" moment for the day. Or in the case of the Kings, usually it will reference the high/low of the game.

First up is Kings Head Coach, Terry Murray.

For much of the last week the Coach has been on the ice leading the young Kings prospects through their camp - carefully explaining...and often reexplaining...what he and the other coaches want from the team and from each player as individuals.

After watching yesterday's terrible performance against the Coyotes the Coach chose not to speak to the team last night. Perhaps it was his way of not stepping over the coaches that were behind the bench for the disappointing 6-1 loss. Perhaps he needed time to collect his thoughts. Regardless, he did address the prospect team this morning and again reminded them that you have to work hard every shift, every night to play in the NHL.

Later this afternoon I caught up with Coach Murray and asked him to help us kick off the new High/Low feature. Here were his comments on game one:

HIGH - Competitiveness. (note: I must have looked perplexed when he said this, as he followed up with...) Guys were aggressive - not just with the fights - but, battling for pucks.

LOW - Team Play. There were too many guys playing as individuals.

Thanks Coach.

Currently there is no charge to play along at home. Leave a comment with your high/low from Wednesday's game.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dice show seven, Kings crap out


Coyotes 6, Kings 1

I'm sure its been said before, selecting the right prospect is a gamble. You bet big on one player or even a few players. It's a roll of the dice. You play the odds.

Whatever way you see it, Phoenix just abused the Kings' kids tonight on home ice (I guess that's what you call it). It was like watching tourists playing a game of street dice with seasoned New York hustlers.

Keeping the theme, changing the game...fortunately, this wasn't a situation where the Kings had pushed all of their chips into the pot for one final hand. Tonight was more like an early hand of a very long tournament. Something that will stretch over the next few years. Some of the "cards" will even be swapped out for new ones as time moves forward. Deuces will be dropped in the hopes of finding Aces...or should I say Kings? Either way, these Kings weren't even close to putting together a winning hand tonight.

Where should we begin? Well, at about the 45 second mark of the first period there was a stop in play near the Kings net minder (more on him later). A few feet away you see #37 Thomas Hickey give a long stare...and I mean long, like he was peering into his soul long...at #56 Jeff May of the Coyotes. This wasn't a Spicoli "Hey, I know that dude!" look. It was more like "I want to make sure I get a good look at you now because you won't look the same later." Or it was a "Look at me fool and remember my face...I'm the guy that's going to wreck your evening." Either way, you knew it was on right then and there.

Around the 3:20 mark #80 Nicolas Deslauriers serves up a HEAVY shot from the point. This was one of many pucks to be turned away by a young Phoenix goalie tonight. BTW - did anybody check to make sure that wasn't Ilya Bryzgalov in net for the Yotes tonight?

Back to Hickey...Near the 4:45 mark Hickey gets hit hard. In rides 'Mr Nasty', #79 Colten Teubert, to the rescue. He proceeds to beat on Coyotes' #36 Jared Staal. Teubert just didn't want to let it go when it was over though. Even with both guys being held back by officials, 'Mr. Nasty' was still swinging - and connecting with a few pitter patters.

The real problems started a little more than a minute later. Desert Dog #52 Chad Koalarik scored the first of his team's SIX goals. Out on the ice with him was his former Michigan line mate, Kevin Porter (wearing #23). Too bad Jack Johnson wasn't in the house. They could have had a little Go Big Blue moment or something.

It's half way though the first now and Kings camper #50 Bud Holloway is turning over pucks, out of position and generally not looking good.

12:00 LA #71 Jordan Nolan pounds Phx #51 Justin Bernhardt into the ice...after first checking him into the penalty box.

30 seconds later you would have thought Phx #50 Lucas Bloodoff was in the mood to fight the way he went after LA #64 Kyle Clifford. However, he was just holding him, so Clifford beat him up for even thinking about it.

A few minutes later we have a new problem. LA #77 Dennis McCauley gets a hooking penalty. Usually not that big of a deal. Yet, we have three guys in a two man penalty box. Now what? Are we about to relive the night Granato had to sit on Sandstrom's lap when they ran out of room in the Forum penalty box? Fortunately, they worked it out like men.

As the second period started...and as the game moved on...one Kings player started to emerge from his shell. LA #48 Andrei Loktionov must have found a jet pack during the first intermission. This guy was so fast. Up, down, sideways. He brought the hustle and was definitely trying to make things happen offensively.  Perhaps the mentoring he's receiving from Igor Larionov is paying off.

Another little bright spot was when the Kings scored. Not the goal itself, but the actions of #85 Geoff Walker - who assisted on the goal. After the ceremonial skate by the LA bench for high fives from his team mates, he skates down to his goalie and gives him a little tap. I like that. This fairly common practice in the minors is often dropped by guys in the NHL for reasons I don't fully understand. That guy in the net is on your team too. He deserves to be part of the celebration.

Hickey began ratcheting things up in the second too. First he manhandled Porter at the blue line to get control of the puck. Minutes later he headed toward his own net with complete disregard for his body as he tried to prevent Phoenix from scoring.

Then I noticed something odd. Phx #23 Porter is wearing a "C". Now, sure, he was the captain at Michigan...but, this is a prospects scrimmage game. Wait. Phx #39 Maclean and #24 Ahnelov are both wearing an "A". What? How did this happen? Now, rumor is, that the Coyotes rode the bus in this morning from Phoenix.  Seriously.

I guess that's what happens when your team is going through bankruptcy.

That's a long drive. And things get boring once you're about an hour outside of Phoenix. So, maybe there was some sort of road-trip-bus-ride contest involved...you know, whoever spots the most slug bugs before they stop at In-N-Out in Palm Springs gets the "C" or something. Maybe the guy that holds his pee the whole way gets an "A". Who knows.

Third period was more of the same. Coyotes rolling. The Kings out of position. And the Kings featuring a statue in net. Yes, LA #65 Martin Jones was the definition of stationary. He conserved movement so much he might still be standing there in goal at this very moment.

I wonder if Jones will go all Cloutier and claim that he was left out there to be embarrassed. For that mater, I wonder if the Kings even had a second goalie suited up. I never saw one. Seems weird though. There had to be one somewhere...right?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot...before this thing finally ended we also had the battle of the Jeffs...or was it the battle of the Geoffs...as LA #85 Geoff Walker battled with Phx #56 Jeff May. Yes, that guy again!

Like a bad night of gambling in Vegas, I'm licking my wounds. Headed to my room for a night of rest. Then I'll be back again tomorrow testing the odds and hoping for a better outcome.

I'll put $10 on the Yo and hope the Kings don't crap out again.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Los Angeles Kings Report: Camping Without a Compass



As you probably know the kids are in town and starting to cause quite a stir. That's right - LA Kings Rookie Camp is underway.

I headed down to Health South today to catch the morning session. Wanted to prime my senses for the game...um, scrimmage...tomorrow night.

I intentionally didn't bring the roster available on LAKings.com.
View / Print your copy now by clicking here.
Bringing it has several draw backs. First, I think you spend half your time looking at the roster and not enough time watching the action on the ice. C'mon, we're all hockey starved at this point, so our souls need as much as we can get. Don't lie, you know you're still watching the same highlights on the NHL Network every night that you've already seen a thousand times. Fear not, 2009-10 is almost upon us.

The second reason for not bringing it is I think sometimes when you come to these camps you end up with that self-fulfilling prophecy thing. Basically, you come to the rink wanting to check out Teubert, Hickey or whomever...then, you leave saying how impressive they were. Well, if you stare at any one player long enough, its fairly easy to sing their praises.

Thus, I opted for a more organic approach today. Just plopped myself down and started watching the action. There were some 5-on-5 drills, followed by some 3-on-3, then some specific game situation drills (i.e. pass from the blue line attempting to be tipped in by a guy shadowed by a D-man in front of the net, etc.).

My two cents...77 Dennis McCauley (yes, I looked it up when I got home) was the most impressive on the ice this morning. This guy is a natural born goal scorer. Power forward extraordinaire. He HAS to play on the top line this year along side Ryan Smyth. We're talking 40 goals easy. Everybody will be saying "Frolov who?" by November 1st.

The other two players I noticed the most were 53 Alec Martinez and 80 Nicolas Deslauriers. Both players wanted to score each time they were on the ice. Constantly driving to the net or shooting at it. Plus, they were finishing plays that others were happy to just go through the motions on.

Who else has been going to the practice sessions? If you've been, leave a comment below with your thoughts on the players. Who has impressed you...or not?

If you haven't been yet, but were thinking about going tomorrow night, tickets can be purchased here - SCRIMAGE TIX - with all proceeds going to the Kings Care Foundation.

I have a few pics and videos to share (see below). RinkRat was there taking photos too, so I'm sure he'll have some much better shots up on LetsGoKings.com.

The Mayor
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p.s. For those of you without a sarcasm detector (available now at Amazon.com), relax and breathe! Of course I'm kidding about McCauley playing in LA this year. IT'S ONE FRICKIN' PRACTICE! I just love when people come away from one session of these things and start proclaiming ridiculous future "facts" about a player. Like I've said in previous posts about young players, we should probably leave the predictions and real analysis to the scouts, the GM or even other players. So, on second thought, keep your two cents, I'll give you today's opinions for free.

LAKings #NHL #Kings

#LAKings Rookie Camp Videos

Brief snippets from the Tuesday morning session at #LAKings Rookie Camp, September 2009.

48 Loktionov's line

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48 Loktionov with the puck

video

77 McCauley brings the puck in from the blue line

video

47 Elkins circling and passing to 80 Deslauriers

video

#LAKings #NHL #Kings