Saturday, October 17, 2009

Third Time Wasn't The Charm

When a team wins, should the coach get the credit for creating a great game plan? In turn, when a team loses, should the coach share equally in the blame?

Recently, when casually talking with a former Kings player, he offered some insight into the coaching situation here in Los Angeles. Like many fans, he was initially concerned by the hiring of Terry Murray. Not that he was a bad coach, but that he might not be the right coach for such a young team - a team still needing a teacher. Marc Crawford was not a teacher, period. On the other hand, he said he was blown away by Terry Murray's ability to break down every aspect of the game into micro bits. Situation analysis at its finest. For those that questioned the hiring of TM, he said it made perfect sense in retrospect.

Three games, three loses.

Three games of giving up at least four goals.

Three games of scoring two goals or less.

The third time hasn't been the charm. This road trip is getting ugly...and fast.

Why the panic some ask. Sure, there is still a lot of hockey left to play. A ton! Yet, you can gain an appreciation for urgency if you break things down Terry Murray style.

With 82 games in the regular season, lets chop it into eight 10-game segments (80 games for the math challenged). Then, we'll use the last two games as "extras" - just for seeding purposes.

Look at the final Western Conference standings from last season and assume a team will need 90 points to make the playoffs. Divide that by 8. That would mean that the Kings need to average just over 11 points for every 10 game segment.

As of this morning the Kings have played 8 games, netting 8 points. Game 9 is tonight. It's an NHL special - a home and home series spread over four days. Somehow, someway, the Kings need to get three points in this series to reach their 11 in 10 games.

Dustin Brown has scored in the last time two Kings games. Let's hope he can score again tonight and maybe that will be the charm. Maybe the top line will get going again. Maybe the shot mentality will return.

It really doesn't matter how they do it or who gets the credit for beating a surging Dallas team. The Kings just need three more points by Friday morning to keep pace in the West. A win in Dallas tonight would go a long way towards helping the cause.

The Kings can do this the easy way or the hard way. History suggests it won't be easy.


Fight! Fight! Fight!

It's Saturday afternoon and all across America tens of thousands of fans are packing into their local college stadiums for an event, more than just a football game. There will be tailgating, barbecuing, underage drinking...and marching bands warming up. Soon enough, they'll be belting out the university's fight song. Their own special tune, shared equally by their players, their students and their fans.

One of the unique aspects of the NHL when compared to other major sports in North America is the origin of the players. Today's hockey professionals come from largely three groups - Europe, Canadian Junior leagues and American colleges.

According the the NHL, in 2004 22% of the players in the league that year were from a US college hockey program. Fast forward five years to the end of last season and the number had sky rocketed to 29%. In fact, of all the players that debuted just last season 65 were former college hockey players.

The LA Kings are slightly ahead of that pace this season, with 7 of the 20 guys they've suited up most nights (35%) having donned a college jersey prior to turning pro. Where the stats just turn crazy for the Kings though is on defense. Four of the Kings starting blueliners are college bred. Only Doughty and O'Donnell (both from the OHL) break rank.

Technically, the Kings have another college defenseman on their roster, Peter Harrold. However, the team has been using him on the fourth line this year.

It's not just the Kings riding the trend. Some of the top young players in the game right now did the college thing. Players like Chicago Blackhawk Jonathan Toews - he went to North Dakota. Currently near the top of the leader board for goals scored you have Dany Heatley (Wisconsin) and Patrick Sharp (North Dakota). Interestingly side note though, Jordan Schroeder was the only college player taken in the first round of the draft this past June.

The Kings college frat house:

Teddy Purcell - played just one year at the University of Maine (2006-07), scoring 42 points in 40 games...good enough to earn him Hockey East Rookie of the Year honors in his sole season as a Black Bear...his team also reached the NCAA frozen four

Jonathan Quick - minded net at the University of Massachusetts for two seasons...posted 19 wins (in 37 games played), with a 2.16 GAA and .929 save percentage in 2006-07 - all single season team records…was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week twice and Hockey East Goaltender of the Month for November 2005

Jack Johnson - now he was going to make it to the NHL no matter what, obviously he's a flat stud...yet, his choice of school certainly didn't hurt him...for as long as anybody can remember, Michigan has been sending more players to the NHL than any other university...North Dakota, Wisconsin and Boston College are all currently battling it out for second place bragging rights...interesting trivia note: his dad also played for the Wolverines...JMFJ left after just two seasons to pursue his dream of the NHL, but they were a memorable two his first season (2005-06) he led Michigan freshmen and defensemen in goals (10), assists (22) and points (32)...during his sophomore season he led the team's d-men with 16 goals and 23 assists; and was named Best Offensive Defenseman in the conference...he was also an all American in 2007

Davis Drewiske - played four years at the University of Wisconsin ... served as the captain during his senior year, when he was second in team scoring by defenseman with 21 points (5 goals, 16 assists)...was named the team's MVP that year...his team also won the NCAA championship in 2006 (beating Peter Harold and his Boston College teammates)

Peter Harold - played four years for the Boston College Eagles (one of the most beautiful college campuses you'll ever see, more on that some other day)...earned BC's outstanding freshman a junior was third in all of Hockey East with a plus 20 rating...though small in size, he was one of the smartest d-man to ever play at BC - and that says a lot considering their rich history...served as team captain his senior year of 2005-06 and was named first team all American on defense

Matt Greene - the University of North Dakota is notorious for having a large team...Greene was big on a team of giants...he was a standout from the start for the Fighting Sioux, posting a plus 11 rating (second among all rookies)...followed that up his second year by leading all d-men with 16 assists...served as team captain...lost the NCAA championship to Denver during his final season, 2004-05

Rob Scuderi - a four year Eagle at Boston College...played in all 42 games as a freshman and earned Hockey East all-rookie team honors (1997-98)...played in all 42 games the following two seasons as well...a true iron man, he played more games in a BC sweater than any other player in team history...went to the NCAA hockey championship game three of his four years (!), finally winning it all in 2001, his final season

That's not just a lot of players hanging out on college campuses going to frat parties, that's a ton of leadership experience and even more maturity coming from winning big, big games.

Now if the Kings could just come up with a good fight song for all the players and fans to rally around, they might really be in business.

Any good ideas out there?


note: if you want to follow the stats of college players now in the NHL, sorted by school - which is pretty cool...head over to

Thursday, October 15, 2009

De Ja Vu all over again

After opening up with back to back 2-1 wins on this road trip, the Kings lost tonight for the second consecutive game by a score of 4-2. Wait...there goes an empty net goal by Detroit - make it 5-2. They were in both games at different points, but on back to back nights failed to show the 60 minute game they had been playing recently.

While some were quick to shovel the blame for Wednesday's loss on backup goaltender Erik Ersberg, the reality is the outcome wasn't his fault. You could maybe ride him for one of the goals. Yet, that wasn't the game. The Kings played a dismal opening period, one that probably cost them the game. In order to win on the road against a team playing as well the Rangers, the Kings need to put forward a greater effort from beginning to end.

Back to goaltending, credit must be given to Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. He stood on his head all night long and looked brilliant in net. The Kings certainly were putting the pressure on him, out shooting New York 36-21...including a staggering 10-1 in the final period. But as luck would have it, the Rangers scored on that one shot!

Captain Dustin Brown had the right attitude after Wednesday's loss, saying the team needed to put the game behind them and focus on Detroit. Heeding his own words, Brown got the party started just over five minutes in with his first goal of the year. Finally.

There wasn't much to cheer about after the opening period though. Sure, Justin Williams scored late in the third (Finally!) to pull the Kings within one. However, the Red Wings answered soon after and controlled the rest of the game. For the full three periods, the Kings were out shot 32-26. To beat Osgood, they needed more shots on net - which goes back to having that "shot mentality" the coaching staff talked about all summer. It just didn't happen tonight.

With Ivanans out of the line-up vs. Detroit we never heard "Five for Fighting", instead, we give you the "Five for Five" bullet points on tonight's loss:

  • It didn't matter that the Red Wings were without several of their top players. The Kings have now tasted victory just once in their last 11 trips to Detroit.

  • One of the greatest defenseman of all time, the classy Nicklas Lidstrom, assisted on a goal by Zetterberg. It was the 1000th point in his glorious NHL career.

  • Anze Kopitar did it again. He added an assist on the Williams goal. If not for the Ranger game last night, he would have at least one point in every Kings game this year.

  • Is it just me or does it seem like Davis Drewiske is constantly on the ice? Every time I look up, there he is. Every few minutes it seems like Bob Miller is saying "pass by Drewiske (or something similar)." He isn't leading the team in ice time according to the official stats. But, I swear he is out there all the time. So far, it hasn't really been a problem. He's a plus 5 for the year, including +1 in the last two games (both losses). Better yet, he hasn't had one game this year as a minus for the night.

  • The Kings were uncharacteristically lacking discipline tonight. Coach Terry Murray spends hours each week preaching the value of playing the game with smarts. Several dumb penalties were taken, including two by Ryan Smyth. Like Ersberg the night before, Smyth didn't cost the team the game. He did however not play the same game he's shown in his first half dozen as a King. Expect a bounce back game in Columbus this weekend.

Four games in to the road trip the Kings are 2-2. That's passable. Not great.

Columbus and Dallas - two teams that will be in the hunt all year - are games the Kings need to win if they're going to follow through with their plans of making the playoffs next April.

Four points were lost in the last 36 hours. The Kings can ill afford to lose four more before returning home next week.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Interview w/ ESPN's John Buccigross

Hockey seemed to finally arrive on the national scene in the late 90s when ESPN launched their nightly 30 minute show NHL2Night. Hosting the show was a self proclaimed music nut, John Buccigross, whose love for the sport spilled out through the screen. He wasn't just reading lines off the teleprompter, this guy had the fever that so many of us share. Fast forward a decade or so and he's been caught in the cross hairs of Kings fans recently. First retracting his prediction of the Kings making the playoffs this year and later proclaiming to the world that Frolov had indeed been traded. What's going on?

MayorsManor had a chance to catch up with Buccigross and get some answers...and some other hockey insight...

Let's get right to it - earlier this summer while hosting the Kings HockeyFest in downtown, you said this was the year the Kings would return to the playoffs. Then, more recently, in your article Breaking Down the Western Conference you said "after studying things a little more, I have them outside the top eight." Why the change of heart?

I simply think there are 8 teams who are better and question they will prevent enough goals to be a playoff team. Unless they make a big trade, I don't think they are quite ready yet.

Kings fans are obviously excited about the young players on the team, guys like Anze Kopitar. There is also a feeling of an east coast bias in the media when guys like Drew Doughty hardly get noticed for Calder consideration. In your opinion, who is the most underrated player in the league today?

Niklas Kronwall of the Red Wings is real good. A #1 defenceman on most teams. He's physical and good on the power play.

Although you grew up playing basketball, golf and baseball in high school, you've obviously been following hockey for a long time. What is the greatest game you've ever seen?
Ray Bourque's Game 7 Stanley Cup clincher was a memorable one.
NOTE: Funny Bourque follow-up story, in a 2006 column Buccigross said he "once played golf with Ray Bourque and tried to intentionally three putt from 30 feet so I could say I shot a 77 playing golf with Ray Bourque. Instead, the slippery downhill putt went in and I shot a 75 not playing golf with Brett Lindros."
Over the last decade of so many of the older, traditional buildings have given way to new arenas. Of the 30 buildings currently hosting NHL games, do you have a favorite place to watch hockey? would be hard to pick just one. Columbus, Minnesota and Toronto are the best I've been to.

During the lockout year a few rule changes were put in place to improve the game. As a fan, if you could change one rule in hockey, what would it be?

I'd implement a ten minute 4 on 4 overtime.

Interesting. I'm not sure if making the games longer is something the league would go for, yet I'm all for more puck! How about the jerseys. One of the few areas where hockey gets credit over the other big sports is on the fashion front. There are certainly some great jerseys in the league, but a few of them are embarrassing. If you could change one team's jersey, which team would you target?

Columbus' is terrible. A simple "C" would be cool at home. Maybe a diagonal Columbus on the roadies.

Probably not the team I would have gone after. However, given that you went to college in Ohio, I can see you working it. Let's move on. How about some word association? We haven't done that yet on MayorsManor. You want to give it a go?


OK, how about the teams in the Western Conference:

Anaheim Ducks - Ryan Getzlaf's hands
Calgary Flames - Jay Bouwmeester's feet
Chicago Blackhawks - Patrick Kane's feet and hands
Colorado Avalanche - Matt Duchene is for real, yo
Columbus Blue Jackets - Playoffs?!?!?! You bet.
Dallas Stars - In transition
Detroit Red Wings - Their Central Division streak ends
Edmonton Oilers - Fast but still disjointed
Los Angeles Kings - Coming together. Should be in the hunt.
Minnesota Wild - New look Wild now are a little run and gun.
Nashville Predators - Barry Trotz might coach this team for 50 years.
Phoenix Coyotes - Boring, defensive
San Jose Sharks - Heatley will score 60
St Louis Blues - Very high expectations. Simmer.
Vancouver Canucks - They will be fine.

Still working the Columbus angle, huh? No, seriously - thanks for stopping by John. We appreciate your time.

In the future we'll try and get into some of his musical favorites, like R.E.M. and Run DMC. Once upon a time, in a different interview, he said "Music has always been a big part of my life, maybe even bigger than sports, because music has never let me down."

Although they've done it plenty of times in the last 20 years, Kings fans are counting on the team to not let them down this year. LA needs to make the playoffs and remind Buccigross you should always go with your first instincts.

Its like that...and thats the way it is.

The Mayor


High / Low with John Buccigross of ESPN - get his takes on the opening of the 2009-10 season

Interview with Kelly Hrudey - former Kings goalie, now a commentator on TSN

Interview with Luc Robitaille - sit down with #20 a few days before his Hall of Fame induction

Interview with Mike Modano - arguably the greatest American born hockey player of all-time

Interview with Bob Miller - legendary voice of the Kings talks favorite players, games, moments, etc.


photo courtesy of

HIGH / LOW with ESPN's John Buccigross

If you were following hockey when the Y2K craze was in full stride, you probably spent a fair amount of time watching the NHL2Night on ESPN. The 30 minute show gave hockey fanatics their nightly fix of scores, highlights and analysis. Guiding the puck fest was John Buccigross, an ESPN anchor and now author. He's hard to forget - with his music references and pure love for the sport. In between duties for ESPN we caught up with John to get his take on the first week of the NHL season.

With one week in the books, what would say have been the HIGHs so far?

1. Calgary Flames - I picked them to finish first and they look good so far. They seem to have a little magic to them.

2. Sidney Crosby - He's now a good faceoff man. That's the sign of a winner. Keep improving.

3. Alex Ovechkin - 70 goals? Another MVP? Probably.

And on the flip side, the LOWs of the young season?

1. Boston Bruins - Trade Phil Kessel and the offense is severely hurt. They should get better.

2. The Referees - A lot of ticky tack calls.

3. Toronto - All bark, no bite so far.

Later this afternoon we'll post a more in depth interview with John. Fear not, we'll be looking for answers on why he reversed course and now says the Kings will not make the playoffs. Enquiring minds want to know. And the Mayor needs answers!

The Mayor


Interview with John Buccigross of ESPN

Interview with Kelly Hrudey - former Kings goalie, now a commentator on TSN

Interview with Luc Robitaille - sit down with #20 a few days before his Hall of Fame induction

Interview with Mike Modano - arguably the greatest American born hockey player of all-time

Interview with Bob Miller - legendary voice of the Kings talks favorite players, games, moments, etc.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Streaking Through New York

It's been said that repetition is one of the keys to success. On Monday afternoon the Kings put together a performance that was largely a replay of their previous game in St. Louis. The penalty kill was strong, the goal tending was solid, the power play chipped in with a goal and Jonathan Quick lost his shutout late in the third. Fortunately though, Matt Moulson is a liar.

In the 90210 moment of the day, Bob Miller revealed that Moulson is dating Quick's wife's sister. While they were all at dinner last night Moulson promised Quick he was going to score two goals on him at the Coliseum today. Quick did his best to make him look the fool, holding him off the score sheet for over 57 minutes. In a messy play, with the game nearing its end - and Quick AGAIN about to post his first shutout of the year - Moulson finally put one in. It wasn't enough though, as the Kings hung on to win 2-1.

On the day set aside to honor the achievements of Columbus, the Kings discovered how to keep several streaks alive. Kopitar scored the first goal of the game after being set up by Ryan Smyth. This kept a streak alive for both of them, having tallied points in five straight - or every game this season if you prefer to look at that way. The PK unit shut down the Islanders on all three attempts, running the Kings streak to 10 straight kills.

LA had won three in a row - and three straight over the Islanders, both now have been bumped up to four straight.

One streak did come to end though. Goalie Martin Biron had never lost to the Kings...until today.

More stats for you - it was the Kings 1300th win in franchise history.

Close games are usually a pins and needles affair, rarely providing moments of laughter. Yet, I did chuckle a few times when hearing "Bailey by Quick." It just didn't sound right.

Local media selected Quick, Kopitar and Doughty the three starts of the game. If the trio keeps playing at this level, we could see the streaking Kings stay on a roll when they meet the Rangers at the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden, Wednesday night.