Saturday, January 2, 2010

WJC Recap: Saturday's Quarterfinals

The best tournament in the world for NHL prospects continued in Saskatchewan on Saturday.

The U.S. will live to play another day and the hoped for rematch with Canada is still alive. However, it will take a strong game from the entire team to beat a loaded Sweden squad on Sunday. Plus, Switzerland is trying to steal the headlines as a possible Cinderella team.
Highlights from the two Quarterfinal games:

United States 6, Finland 2

American goaltender Mike Lee was the player of the game - looks like he is the #1 goalie for the remainder of the tournament. Jordan Schroeder passed Jeremy Roenick with his three assists, giving him the most points all-time for a U.S. born player at the WJC.
A trio of Original Six draft picks - Chris Kreider (NY Rangers), Jerry D'Amigo (Toronto) and Danny Kristo (Montreal Canadiens) - had big games as well. Kristo and Kreider remained uber hot for the USA team, each scoring another goal. They both have five goals overall - just one shy of Slovakia's Richard Panik, who currently leads the WJC this year with six goals. D'Amigo had two goals in the game, his second and third of the tourney.

Switzerland 3, Russia 2
It took overtime to decide this one and somehow the Swiss were able to upset the team many people predicted would be playing for gold on Tuesday. Swiss goaltender Benjamin Conz played lights out in goal, finishing the game with 50 saves. Meanwhile, his teammate Nino Niederreiter had two dramatic goals. First, he tied the game with just 33 seconds left in regulation. Then, about 10 minutes into the OT he scored the game winner. He's expected to be a first round pick at the 2010 NHL Draft and right now his stock is probably rising.

Semi final match-ups for Sunday:

Switzerland vs. Canada - 1pm PST
United States vs. Sweden - 6pm PST

Both games will be shown live on the NHL Network. The winners will meet for the Gold Medal on Tuesday, while the other two teams will play for the Bronze.

The Mayor

Kings-Caps has Olympic Feel

The buzz is alive for the 2010 Winter Olympics. All the rosters have now been announced and some of the guys that were left off have been popping up in recent Kings games and making their presence known. A few days ago in Calgary it was Dion Phaneuf and Jay Bouwmeester. Today it was Mike Green for the Caps and Ryan Smyth for the Kings.

Green, skipped over by Team Canada in favor of the Kings Drew Doughty, tied the game just a couple minutes into the second period. He also led all players in the game with a whopping 30:33 of total ice time.

Smyth, also left off of Team Canada, scored a goal of his own with time expiring in the first period. Rhyno's powerplay goal finally gave the Kings something to show for their dominating performance in the opening 20 minutes of play - other than leading the shot totals 11-4. Up until that point the Kings just couldn't get anything by Caps netminder Michal Neuvirth, even with two other powerplays earlier in the period.

The sold out crowd had barely returned to their seats for the second when Green tied things up after Parse went off for tripping. Like LA did in the first, Washington dominated the shots in the second - with the numbers 13-3 in the Caps favor - but they only had one goal to show for it.

Then, just a few minutes into the third, Smyth was called for boarding. Washington was hungry for their first lead of the night, but it wasn't to be. Another Olympian came to the rescue for LA. Michal Handzus, who will play for Slovakia, netted a short handed goal for the Kings. The Caps continued to put pressure on throughout the rest of the game, however LA was able to hold on for a 2-1 win...their first day-game victory at home this season.

To show the difference in the make up of the two teams, Alexander Ovechkin led all skaters with seven shots. The Kings didn't have a player with more than three. You may recall back in training camp Coach Murray stressed the Kings need to have a shot mentality this year to be successful. Instead, today it was Jonathan Quick - yep, another Olympian - lifting the team to victory.

Next up - the Sharks on Monday.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Three Kings on Team USA

LA Kings Captain Dustin Brown will be joined by teammates defenseman Jack Johnson and goaltender Jonathan Quick on Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Brown, a veteran of international play for Team USA, was one of the leaders on the American squad that played at the World Championships last May. It was his 4th time playing in the tourney and he led the team in points in '06. He also played at the World Jrs twice, including in '02 where he was the youngest player on the team.

Johnson has also suited up for the USA in multiple international tournaments before, including two trips to the World Junior Championships. He was named to the All-Star Team there after his performance in the 2006 WJC.

Quick is predicted by most to be the future of the U.S. program at this level. He will be the third goaltender on the team, thus not likely to get much playing time. However, the experience will be valuable in his development.

Two other Kings are headed to the Olympics as well - Michal Handzus for Slovakia and Drew Doughty for Team Canada.

To see a complete list of Kings players that have played in the Olympics (and how they each performed), click here.

The Mayor

WJC: Canada-USA lived up to the hype

If you were scripting the perfect hockey game you'd have to add the following ingredients - two undefeated teams, stacked rosters on both sides, an important reward on the line for the victor, a short handed goal, a penalty shot, three periods of hard hitting action, multiple lead changes, wild momentum swings, overtime and a shootout.

Did I leave anything out? Because the Canada-USA game had all that...and more.

Ten players in this game were taken in the first round of the NHL draft - which is quite a bit more than you'll find in most NHL games.

Team Canada had a line-up of nearly all NHL drafted players. The lone hold out, Taylor Hall, is expected to be a high first round pick in June 2010 - perhaps even going first overall.

Team USA also had a roster full of NHL drafted players...and they had a storyline favored by script writers - the old man and the kid. Veteran Jordan Schroeder, playing in his third and final WJC tournament, entered the game still looking for his first victory over Team Canada. In goal, they had the rookie, Jack Campbell - the seventeen year old future of the program, playing in his first WJC.

In a preview of things to come, the two teams traded goals in the opening five minutes. Washington Capitals draft pick Stefan Della Rovere scored for Canada just 2 minutes into the game, followed two minutes later by Philip McRae for the U.S. (a 2nd round pick of the St. Louis Blues in '08).

Jordan Schroeder, aiming for Jeremy Roenick's American points record, gave Team USA the lead 7 minutes into the second...with a short-handed goal nonetheless.

Five minutes later Canada tied things up again when Jordan Eberle scored, showing why the Oilers made him their first round pick in '08. LA Kings prospect Brayden Schenn assisted on the goal.

With the drama seemingly already at an unbelievable high, it escalated with a penalty shot. Chris Kreider of Boston College (and a NY Rangers draft pick) was stopped by Canadian netminder Jake Allen, leaving the game tied.

After several great scoring chances throughout the second period, the Americans were finally able to take the lead with just seconds left in the period. It was Tyler Johnson putting the U.S. up 3-2 after forty minutes.

Then, just one minute into the third, U.S. forward Danny Kristo silenced the sold out Canadian crowd. Using some fancy stick work he beat Allen to give Team USA a two goal lead.

After last year's disappointing come from ahead loss though, fans of Team USA couldn't start celebrating yet. And sure enough, Canada came back and scored two goals in the final ten minutes (including a second goal of the night from Eberle, with a second assist from Schenn) to force overtime.

The nail biting five minute OT didn't include a goal from either side, so it was on to the shootout.

And what a shootout it was.

First shooter, goal. Second shooter, goal. Third and fourth shooters, goal-goal.

So with things tied in the shootout Canada sent out LA Kings prospect Brandon Kuzon. He scored.

Then it happened. Team USA went with experience and desire. It was Jordan Schroeder's turn. Could he score for the U.S. to keep hope alive? Could he tie things up and give the Americans a chance to beat Team Canada for the first time since 2004?

No. He didn't score. Team USA didn't beat Canada. Another heart breaker.

An emotionally draining, classic game. Enjoy some of the highlights in the official WJC video package:

More than twelve hours later I'm still in awe. Rarely when sporting events are hyped for weeks prior do they deliver. From big fights to important football games, the actual events usually have a hard time delivering on the predicted greatness. In this case, Canada and the U.S. over delivered.

Other WJC notes from Thursday, the final day of opening round play:

* In the game to determine the winner of Pool B, Sweden beat Finland 7-1. Oilers first round pick Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson continued his hot play, picking up another goal. That brought his point total to 9, trailing only Eberle of Canada for the overall lead.

* Switzerland beat Slovakia 4-1. Nino Niederreiter, a 2010 draft eligible player, scored twice for the Swiss. Tampa Bay Lightning pick Richard Panik has been one of the few bright spots for the disappointing Slovakian team this year. He scored his fifth goal, tying him for the overall lead in the tourney.

* Russia beat the Czech Republic 5-2. The game was tied with 6 minutes left in the third. Russia then scored three times to win it. Vladimir Tarasenko, the top rated Russian skater eligible for the NHL draft in June, had two goals in the victory.

Friday is an off day for the WJC. Games will resume on Saturday with two quarter-final contests, Russia-Switzerland and USA-Finland.

The winners will face Canada and Sweden in the semis on Sunday. If everything plays out perfectly, Canada and the U.S. could play in a rematch on Tuesday...for the gold!

The Mayor


Interview with Brandon Kozun

Comments from Brayden Schenn

Jeremy Roenick previews USA-CANADA - a MayorsManor exclusive


Thursday, December 31, 2009

WJC: Jeremy Roenick previews Canada-USA

Make no mistake about it. This is a big game. It's one you circle on the calendar as soon as the schedule is released.

When it comes to hockey, Canada thinks they are the center of the universe. And when it comes to the World Junior Championships, they are. We can at least give them that one. They've won five straight gold medals and many believe they're the odds on favorite for a sixth.

However, they still need to play their arch nemesis - Team USA.

It will be a team filled with bright eyed youngsters hoping to become part of the next group of American superstars.

They're trying to take the reigns from a generation that was without a doubt the most successful group of all time. Sure, there was the gold medal team at the 1960 Winter Olympics. A one off. And there was the 1980 gold medal team. A miracle indeed.

Then came the explosion of elite U.S. players onto the world stage. Beginning in the late 80's at the World Junior Championships and continuing on to the Olympics and World Cups of the next two decades you had guys named Chelios, Guerin, Hull, Leetch, Modano, Tkachuk, Richter and Weight, just to name a few.

One more name from that list was Jeremy Roenick, who just so happens to be the all-time leader for points by an American player at the World Juniors. A record that may fall to this week to one of this year's assistant captains, Jordan Schroeder.

I spoke with JR last night to get his thoughts on the possibility of a new record holder and he shared some memories of his time at the World Juniors too...

MM:  Jordan Schroeder is three points away from tying your record of 25 points...

JR:  Well, at least my record held for twenty years (he laughs). That's good for American hockey though if he does. We need good kids coming up in the game, you know, the next generation of U.S. players.

Well, this is his third tournament...

That makes it OK then. It's going to take him three times and I did it in two, so that makes it OK (he laughs again, a constant whenever you talk to JR). Seriously though, it will be a great accomplishment for him.

Let's talk about some of your experiences at the World Juniors. Your first trip in 1988 was a tough one for the U.S., you guys only won one game...

Yeah, it was a tough one. That was right when the transition was beginning. The U.S. was just starting to get some good talent coming up. You had Modano, Amonte, Leetch and all those guys. We were all coming into our own. Before that, with the exception of maybe the '80 Olympic team, the U.S. was always one of those teams that was never competitive enough to grab a medal. I think that was right at the cusp of us starting to get really good, around '87-88 was when that change started to happen.

How about the experience of traveling to Russia for the tournament that year? It had to be a little overwhelming considering how young you were at the time.

Well, I was a sophomore in High School and it was really my first experience going overseas to play hockey. There was a lot of stuff going on with Russia and Canada at the time, there was a heated rivalry between those two. It was still a communist country back then and I remember everybody was under their rule. When you were standing outside the Lenin Square, everybody was waiting to go in to Lenin's tomb and they wouldn't let you walk in certain places. It was a total control thing. I also remember people were trading all sorts of things. Back then the black market was crazy. Some of us were trading food and clothing for things the Russians had, like those big wool hats - those were really cool. Other guys were trading their sneakers or gum and candy. They just ate it up because they didn't have stuff like that at the time.

You and Modano both had solid numbers that first year, even though the team wasn't doing so well. You finished with 5 goals and 4 assists. He had 4 goals too. Was the friendly rivalry already underway at that point?

We were brewing up a competitive edge before that. Like at the 17 Selects people were talking - I was the guy from Boston and Mo was the guy from Detroit. We were two of the guys everybody talked about and it just kept brewing from there. As we got older I always respected Mike and loved the way he played. Even today, he is probably one of my favorite players that I played with or against. I just don't think we see guys more talented than Mike Modano come along very often.

The following year Team USA was more competitive, going 3-3-1 up in Alaska. You led the tournament with 16 points and Modano was right behind you with 15. Anything stand out from your second trip to the World Juniors?

It was in our home country, but a place I had never been before. We were treated very well up there. The amenities were much better and our team was much better. Like I said earlier, that's really when we started rolling as a national powerhouse. That team was really strong. You can go right down the list from Modano and Amonte to the whole group of amazing players, you can see why we kept building momentum all the way up to the gold medal at the World Cup in '96.

In your first WJC you guys lost to Canada 5-4. At the second one in '89, even though the team was actually playing better in the tournament overall, you guys lost to Canada 5-1.

I remember that game, we were totally outmatched. They came out and played a very, very physical brand of hockey. They really took it to us. That game taught us a lot about what it was going to take internationally to win hockey games. I think that's when we started playing a physical game, more like the Canadians did. That was a big turning point for us, for my generation...and how we needed to play in order to beat them.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

As we were wrapping things up the talk briefly turned to Team USA's announcement of their Olympic roster coming up on Friday. Some of the players expected to make the team played for Team USA when they won the gold medal at the 2004 World Juniors. The Olympics would be the next step up for some of those guys. JR said he was "very curious and very excited" about seeing who makes the team. He wants to know who the new regime is going to be.

For now though, it's all about this tournament. Canada versus the USA, a marquee match-up every year. Both teams come into the game undefeated with the winner getting a bye into the semi-finals on Sunday. The loser gets an extra game on Saturday.

Can Jordan Schroeder pick up three points and tie JR for the all-time American points record? Can the U.S. upset Canada on their home turf?

Tune in at 5pm PST to witness it all live on the NHL Network.

This is one of those games you just don't want to miss.

The Mayor


Interview with Mike Modano

WJC:  Canada-USA Lived Up to the Hype

USA Defeats Canada - gold medal game notes

WJC Gold Rush, American Style


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kings-Flames : By the Numbers

Hockey is such a simple game - offense, defense and goaltending.

Offensively the Kings need some help. One goal isn't going to get it done most nights...and it didn't this night either. The Kings lost to the Flames for the second time this month by a score of 2-1.

Defensively there were four guys in this game that were the talk of Alberta all day. Many Flames fans were in an uproar over Drew Doughty making the Canadian Olympic team, while Flames d-men Dion Phaneuf, Jay Bouwmeester and Robyn Regehr did not.

In the net...well, both goalies played excellent. However, the rules state only one can get the victory.

Breaking everything else down by the numbers here's what you get:

ONE - the number of goals scored by the Kings for the second straight game against the Flames

TWO - the number of goals Calgary scored against LA for the second straight game

THREE - the number of powerplays the Kings couldn't convert on in this game

FOUR - the number of guys Ivanans hit in one scrum before being ejected...seriously, four guys - Moss, Johnson, Bouwmeester and looked like he was fighting off an attack in a video game

FIVE - the number of consecutive losses the Kings will try to avoid when they play in Minnesota on New Year's Eve

SIX - the number of goals Scott Parse now has, after scoring just 15 seconds into the second period

SEVEN - the number of wins Calgary has against LA in their last eight meetings

EIGHT - the number on the back of the only defenseman in this game to make Team Canada's Olympic roster - that's right Phaneuf, his name is DOUGHTY

NINE - the number of consecutive losses at the Saddledome for the Kings

TEN - the number of points the Kings have in their last 10 games, making it their worst stretch of the year

and for good measure...

31 - the number on the back of Erik Ersberg, the guy who stood on his head in goal for the Kings tonight...rock solid performance

37 - the number of games gone by since Craig Conroy last scored for the Flames...seriously, no goals since April 11th...thanks

59 - the number of penalty minutes in the first period. The FIRST period!

This was a very physical game. The Flames took runs at Kopitar and Brown all night long.

LA was tough as well, handing out receipts left and right.

Obviously though, the Kings still haven't figured out how to win in Calgary. Let's hope that's not a problem come playoff time. Or, let's hope they can start winning some games soon so there are even playoff games to worry about.

Mama said there'd be days like this.


ECHL All-Stars: 4 Reign Players

Proud LA Kings affiliate (that's how they like to bill themselves), the Ontario Reign, have just received word that four of their players made the ECHL All-Star team this year.

Former Kings draft pick Greg Hogeboom will be joined by three of his Reign teammates on the ECHL National Conference Roster - forwards Peter Lenes and Jon Rheault, along with defenseman David Walker.

This also means that Ontario's three leading goal scores made the team. Hogeboom leads the Reign with 17 goals and 28 points in 31 games. Lenes, a rookie, is second on the team with 11 goals (31 games) and Rheault is third with 10 goals (in just 15 games).

Walker brings some offensive punch too. He leads ECHL defensemen with 19 assists and is tied for second with 21 points.

Hogeboom and Walker are both scheduled to be starters in the game.

Ontario's Citizen's Bank Arena, less than an hour east from Staples Center, will host the ECHL All-Star game on Wednesday, January 20th. There will be a skills competition and fan fest the night before. For ticket information visit the Reign website by clicking here.

More All-Star info will be updated in this article throughout the day.

The Mayor

Oh, Canada...times two

Earlier today, with the entire nation of Canada hanging on his every word, GM Steve Yzerman announced Team Canada's 2010 Olympic Roster. In a somewhat surprising move, LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty made the final cut.

And in the irony of the day department - Doughty and the Kings are in Calgary to take on the Flames tonight, a team that features the two biggest names snubbed by Team Canada - Dion Phaneuf and Jay Bouwmeester. The same J-Bow that was the most sought after guy in hockey a mere six months ago.

It's quite an accomplishment for Doughty. This is a kid that just turned 20 years old a few weeks ago. And as repetitive as it sounds at this point, it's so true...he plays well beyond his years. Absolutely amazing on the ice.

While it will probably be several more years until we know for sure, for now Dean Lombardi continues to look like a genius for taking Doughty over Zach Bogosian at the 2008 NHL Draft.

Team Canada coach Mike Babcock (once a Duck, always a Duck) said that Doughty was selected for the 2010 team over other higher profile players because he's a "difference maker." Agree.

As for the Kings, well...somebody needs to be a difference maker tonight if they plan on winning in Calgary. It was December '05 when the Kings last won at the Saddledome; when guys like Cammalleri, Demitra and Roenick were wearing the purple and black crown.

In the second odd move of the day, Erik Ersberg will get the start in goal for LA. Sure, the Kings will playing tomorrow night in Minnesota too. However, with the team coming off a long break fatigue shouldn't be an issue for Quick right now. Plus, you usually put your best goalie in there against the better of the two teams in this situation.

However, given the Kings current 1-4 slump, perhaps Coach Murray wanted to shake things up a little. Or, perhaps he wanted to give Quick a chance at the rematch tomorrow night in Minnesota (if so, why?).

Either way, goaltending probably won't be the reason the Kings win or lose tonight (I said probably!). For LA to come out on top they're going to need to get some pucks past Flames goalie Mikra Kipprusoff. They've faced him three times this year already, scoring 2 goals in two and only one in the other game.

Paging Kopitar and Frolov. Please pick up the white courtesy phones.

This is the final meeting of the regular season between the two teams...and the final meeting of this pre-playoff three game series they've been playing in the month of December. Both of the previous games this month have been 2-1 contests, with the home team coming out on top in each.

Wrap it all up and there's a lot riding on tonight's game.

Doughty is out to silence any critics upset about him being selected over Phaneuf and Boumeester.

Meanwhile, the Kings are out to stop their current three game losing streak...looking to tie up the season series with Calgary at 2 each...hoping to win in Calgary for the first time in over four years...and NEEDING two points - desperately.

One 19

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

WJC Recap: Day Four

It was a day of hats, hats and hits. Chris Kreider scored a hat trick for Team USA. Hours later Ryan Ellis had a had trick for Team Canada. Slovakia and Latvia, undermanned in the offensive department, decided to dish out hits by the dozen instead. And several Kings prospects had shining moments on Tuesday.

Czech Republic 7, Austria 1
Hard to believe, but this was the first win for the Czechs in three games this year. Seven different players scored for the Republic, led by 2010 draft eligible defenseman Vladimir Roth, who had four points (1g, 3a).

United States 12, Latvia 1
Mike Lee was back in net for the Americans after Jack Campbell's stellar performance in game two vs. Switzerland. This was a little bit of a surprise. Lee looked shaky at times in the opening game vs. Slovakia, although he eventually got the win. Campbell, on the other hand, was brilliant vs. the Swiss and was probably more deserving of the start here.

Prior to the game Danny Kristo (Montreal Canadiens) was moved from the top line to to the fourth line. Obviously, he wasn't happy about it and played like a man possessed. He scored the first of his two goals less than three minutes after the puck dropped.

The second goal of the game was a sweet one. Ray Bourque's son, Ryan, set up Team USA's youngest player - Jason Zucker (who also finished with two goals).

Chris Kreider (New York Rangers) had a fairly dramatic hat trick, getting his third on a penalty shot late in the game.

Overall, Team USA continued to get goals from guys taken in previous NHL drafts: Derek Stepan 2 goals (New York Rangers), Danny Kristo 2 goals, A.J. Jenks (Florida Panthers) and Jeremy Morin (Atlanta Thrasher).

Jordan Schroeder picked up two more assists, moving him within 3 points of Jeremy Roenick's all-time USA points record.

Sweden 4, Russia 1
The machine that is Team Sweden just keeps rolling on. Oilers prospect 'MPS' Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson backed up his five point performance in the last game with three points vs. the Russians (1 goal, 2 assists). His linemate (Ottawa Sens prospect) Andre Petersson also had a pair of goals. In net for Sweden was 6'5" Florida Panthers prospect Jacob Markstrom.

Canada 8, Slovakia 2
Coming into this game Jake Allen was in goal for both of Canada's games in this tournament. Both were shutouts. Kings prospect Martin Jones got the call for this game and gave up two goals. However, that's a bit deceiving. He was brilliant at times and neither goal were really his fault. One was on the powerplay after Team Canada captain Patrice Cormier had taken a stupid penalty.

And don't let the final score fool you - this was one of the most exciting 8-2 games you'll ever see. Slovakia was banging bodies all night long and the physicality of the game was reminiscent of a good NHL playoff game.

While much of the Canadian press will be gushing about Hall's hat trick and this being his probable coming out party - that will probably lead to him being taken number one overall at the June NHL draft - one of the best moments in the game involved two Kings prospects. 2009 sixth round pick Brandon Kozun came flying down the wing and dished it off to '09 first round pick Brayden Schenn for one of the prettiest goals scored in the tournament so far.

What's next?

Wednesday will be an off day for most of the big boys - the only two games scheduled are Finland-Austria and Switzerland-Latvia.

Thursday features four games, but to be honest, the only game everybody will be talking about is the big one...Canada vs. USA. With both teams at 3-0 in pool play the winner will get a bye into the semi-finals on Sunday.

Since the USA beat Canada for the Gold Medal in 2004 the two teams have met five times...with Canada winning all five, including last year's thriller on New Year's Eve where John Tavares scored a hat trick to beat the Americans. Yeah, him - the guy that went on to be the #1 overall pick in last June's NHL draft.

Team USA vs. Canada can be seen live New Year's Eve on the NHL Network at 5pm PST. See two teams stocked with current NHL prospects and 2010 draft picks. Enjoy the stars of the future putting it all on the line for international bragging rights.

The Mayor

Monday, December 28, 2009

Need to fix things - Quickly!

Even though that's a catchy headline, this isn't an article condemning Jonathan Quick for the Kings 4-3 loss to Minnesota Monday night. He put in his usual solid performance...and gave up his usual one soft goal. So, considering the other areas still requiring work on this team, he's playing plenty of ticks above 'fine' right now. Some of the real problems lie elsewhere.

Kopitar and Frolov need a swift kick in the rear...perhaps even more. Your two best players need to be your two best players on a consistent basis. Or at the very least, more often than what these two are bringing right now.

For a guy that's supposedly playing for a big contract, Frolov has disappeared for long stretches this year. (I know, what's new) Sure, he's a beast to move off the puck. Sure, he had many good chances tonight. Many! Yet, at the end of the day (Tim Leiweke's favorite saying), you don't get paid for coulda, shoulda, woulda. Fro needsa score some goals.

Ditto Kopi.

The goal differential for the Kings - already dismal for the season - took another hit tonight with the one goal loss. The Kings have now scored ONE more goal this season than they've allowed.

On another topic - the game was pretty chippy in the first and third periods. Dustin Brown had 8 hits in the game and played like a mad man in the first two periods. Meanwhile, Wild tough guy Derek Boogaard played very physical throughout the game, even though he only played about 7 minutes. Given the liberties he seemed to be taking with Kopitar, Johnson and Smyth, this was one game where I wouldn't have minded Ivanans more aggressively going after somebody.

Finally, the Kings suck at face-offs this year, especially when Stoll is out of the line-up. Former King Eric Belanger, on the other hand, is one of the best in the league. Tonight, he put in two goals just for good measure too. Damn - the Kings sure do miss him. He's probably the one guy Lombardi has traded away that I really wish was still wearing the crown. Thanks for the reminder Belly.

The Mayor

WJC Recap: Day Three

Although there were only two World Jrs games scheduled for Monday, there were plenty of questions to keep things interesting. Could Switzerland somehow find a way to contain the potent Team Canada offense? Would the deadly Canadian power play continue to click an an astronomical rate? How may points would the Kings prospects have? And in the other game, could Finland keep the momentum going from their big win yesterday when they took on Russia?

Here's a recap of the games played this afternoon:

Canada 6, Switzerland 0
Yes, the power play continued to perform for Team Canada. In two games they've now gone 10 for 16. Anaheim Ducks prospect James McMillian was the star of the game. The Canadian defenseman had a hat trick - and still wasn't named player of the game (that went to Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle, who had a goal and three assists). Brayden Schenn was the only Kings prospect with a point, picking up an assist on Big Mac's first goal (in the opening minute of the game). Jake Allen was in goal for Canada again, leaving Kings prospect Martin Jones on the bench for the second straight game. The odd part of the game was seeing Canada play in their Rough Rider green jerseys. Fortunately, they aren't slated to wear them again in the tournament.

Russia 2, Finland 0
2010 NHL Draft prospect Petr Khokhriakov put Russia up 1-0 in the first. Columbus Blue Jackets prospect (and Team Russia captain) Nikita Filatov made it 2-0 Russia midway through the second period. Even though Finland put 46 shots on goal, Russian goalie (and Anaheim Ducks 2009 draft pick) Igor Bobkov turned them all away for the shutout victory.

Tuesday will feature four games, including: Team USA returns to action against Latvia (this will be USA's final game before the big showdown with Canada on Thursday), the marque match-up of the day is Sweden-Russia (both 2-0 so far) and Team Canada should get it's toughest test yet from Slovakia, a very under rated team featuring Detroit Red Wings prospect 'Mr. Excitement' Tomas Tatar.

Check out all three games on the NHL Network beginning at 1pm PST on Tuesday afternoon.

The Mayor

Sunday, December 27, 2009

WJC Recap: Day Two

Every spring fans of the NBA watch the NCAA's March Madness to see future superstars do battle in the annual college basketball tournament. In turn, puck heads from throughout North American and Europe tune in to the World Junior Championships each holiday season to get a glimpse of future NHL stars. You'd be hard pressed to name 10 elite hockey players who didn't play in this tourney when they were 18-20 years old. It's the best of the best and it makes for some great hockey. Here are the highlights of day two:

Sweden 7, Austria 3
For the second straight game Austria played a strong game, but took the loss in the end. Sweden continued pressuring their opponents with a roster stacked full of legitimate NHL prospects. In fact, all seven of their goals came from recent draftees: Oliver Ekman Larsson 2 goals (Phoenix Coyotes), Anton Rodin 2 goals (Vancouver Canucks), Jacob Josefson (New Jersey Devils), Mattias Ekholm (Nashville Predators) and Andre Petersson (Ottawa Senators). Not all of their top talent is offense though, they started New York Islanders draft pick Anders Nilsson in net.

USA 3, Switzerland 0
The Americans picked up their second victory less than 24 hours after their tournament opener. Most of the credit goes to the second youngest player on the team, goaltender Jack Campbell. He was a rock star in the first period, stopping all 14 shots the Swiss threw at him. This just continued his stellar play in nets when wearing USA on his jersey.

Last year at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships he was an obvious choice for the tournament's all-star team. Campbell didn't allow any even strength goals while posting a 6-1 record with a 0.75 GAA and two shutouts. Oh yea, and he was the winning goaltender when the U.S. beat Russia for the gold medal. Remember his name when the 2010 NHL draft comes along in June.

In this game, things were scoreless after one period. From that point forward, Team USA's defense kicked in (allowing just 8 shots over the final 40 minutes) and the offense did enough for the win, with goals by Chris Kreider, Matt Donovan and AJ Jenks.

The top line for USA is now being called 'the Original Six' line...because they were all drafted by O6 teams: Danny Kristo (Montreal Canadiens), Derek Stepan (NY Rangers) and Jerry D'Amigo (Totonto Maple Leafs).

Team USA is now 17-0-2 USA all time vs Switzerland at the WJC.

Finland 4, Czech Republic 3
The Fins were down 2-0 after the first and 3-1 after the second. They came storming back in the third with the unanswered goals - including a pair from Anaheim Ducks prospect Sami Vatanen - to defeat the Czechs 4-3 in a wild game. Somewhere Teemu Selanne is smiling right now.

Slovakia 8, Latvia 3
Slovakia netted five goals in the first period and never looked back. Five of their eight goals on the night came from a trio probably bound for the NHL within two years - TB Lightning prospect Richard Panik had two goals, as did 'Mr Excitement' Tomas Tatar (Detroit Red Wings) and San Jose Sharks draft pick Marek Viedensky put one in too.

On Monday Canada will play it's second game of the tournament, against Switzerland. Team USA will take the day off and prepare for Latvia on Tuesday.

The Mayor