Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions with Kevin Westgarth

Besides size and strength, one of the many things Kevin Westgarth brings to the Kings this season is a great sense of humor. Perhaps it's the Princeton education that helps him come up with such great quotes. Or perhaps it's because he has plenty of time to sit on the bench and think of his witty comebacks.

Regardless, he's one of my go to guys this season and he never fails to deliver.

With his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, he offered the following resolutions for some of his teammates...but only after first sharing one of his own...

Kevin Westgarth - Let's start with me. My New Year's Resolution is to beat Kyle Clifford to the first Gordie Howe hat trick for the LA Kings this season. [note: that's a goal, assist and fight in the same game]. That's a pretty major one.

Michal Handzus - I think I heard his New Year's Resolution is to talk less. He's just a chatter box in the dressing room. So, that's something to look forward to.

Ryan Smyth - I think he's looking to take some more one-timers with that awesome stick of his. He's definitely looking to score some goals this upcoming year from maybe a little higher out than three feet in front of the net - although we love all those ones too.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Throwback Thursdays - Interview with Dave Schultz

These days the connection between the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings is largely off the ice, through members of management.

Back in the '70s it was completely different.

Not only did they come into the league together in 1967, but they shared a few players early on - including the Kings sending two of their more popular players to the City of Brotherly Love in January 1972, Cowboy Bill Flett and Eddie Joyal.

In 1976 Dave 'the Hammer' Schultz joined the list, joining the Kings after winning two Stanley Cups with the Flyers ('74, '75).

As a rookie in 1972-73, he led the league with 259 penalty minutes. He nearly doubled that two years later when he posted 472 penalty minutes, setting the NHL's single season record - a mark that still stands today and will probably never be broken.

He had 232 penalty minutes in his only full season with the Kings ('76-77), a record that stood for 10 years - until being broken by 'Tiger' Williams.

With the Flyers in town tonight to take on the Kings it was only natural that we reached out to the man who was one of the most feared enforcers the game has ever known.

In the interview below he shares some thoughts on his days as a player as well as the Kings and Flyers of current...

Kings - Flyers Preview with Ian Laperriere

The best players in the National Hockey League usually have nicknames that everybody knows.

And Lappy is no different.

Around the league Ian Laperriere is universally loved and admired. He was called the toughest guys in hockey by The Hockey News last year and he's been a fan favorite everywhere he's played. Unfortunately, he's on the shelf right now - without any timetable for a return.

Last month he made his inaugural visit to MayorsManor as a guest on our podcast (available here). It was an extremely candid conversation that saw him open up about leaving LA, his dislike for certain teammates and his relationship with the fans.

Today, he's back to help us preview the Flyers visit to Staples Center tonight for a match-up with his old club, the Kings...

MM: What have you seen from the Kings so far this year?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kings - Coyotes Preview with Eric Belanger

To get something of value, you have to give up something of value.

It's an old adage when it comes to making trades in the NHL and it almost always proves true. Perhaps, not as often in the salary cap era - when more and more teams seem to be making 'cap trades' instead of 'hockey trades' (see Marco Sturm) - but, it certainly was true in the summer of 2006.

Shorty after Dean Lombardi arrived as the new GM of the Kings he started tweaking the roster, with one of his stated goals being to build his reserve list (i.e. add young players). In a trade that shocked some of the fan base he shipped popular Eric Belanger and young defenseman Tim Gleason to Carolina for Oleg Tverdovsky and an unknown blueliner named Jack Johnson.

Sure, in the years to come, many in the hockey world would come to sing the praises of Johnson. However, at the time, he was a college defenseman who had been drafted by the Hurricanes - hardly things that put you on the national hockey radar.

Belanger had cemented his place in Kings history five years earlier when, as a rookie, he scored an overtime goal to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in a playoff game known as the 'Frenzy on Figueroa.'

Five teams later, Belanger now finds himself in Phoenix, having just signed a free agent contract there this past summer.  Prior to tonight's Kings-Coyotes game we caught up with him...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

WJC 2011: Team USA Report w/ Jack Johnson

The 2011 World Junior Championships are underway in Buffalo, NY and as has become tradition over the last few years, several Kings prospects are participating - Derek Forbort (USA), Brayden Schenn (Canada) and Maxim Kitsyn (Russia).

Earlier today Drew Doughty joined us for a look at Team Canada.  In the article below we'll take a look at Team USA and get some thoughts from Jack Johnson regarding his time at the WJC back in 2006 and 2007.

TEAM USA

Last Game: The Americans needed overtime to secure a victory in their opening game vs. Finland on Sunday (3-2 final). Forbort and Team USA had a 2-0 lead heading into the third period, but they let Finland back into it. Nick Bjugstad (nephew of former Kings forward Scott Bjgustad) scored the overtime winner. He stopped by MayorsManor over the summer to talk about all sorts of things, the interview can be found here.

Next Game: Today at 5pm PST Team USA will take on Slovakia in a game that can be seen live on the NHL Network. The Slovaks don't have some of the big names in the tournament - like they did at the recent Olympics.  However, they're a scrappy team who picked up an overtime win vs. Germany in their opening match-up.  Germany threw 48 shots on goal at Slovakian goaltender Dominik Riecicky.  Yet, he found a way to get the victory.  He'll face a tough test against the high powered Americans today.

Alumni Guest:  Jack Johnson

WJC 2011: Team Canada Report w/ Drew Doughty

The 2011 World Junior Championships are underway in Buffalo, NY and as has become tradition over the last few years, several Kings prospects are participating - Derek Forbort (USA), Brayden Schenn (Canada) and Maxim Kitsyn (Russia).

In this article we'll take a look at Team Canada and get some thoughts from Drew Doughty on his time at the WJC back in 2008. Later this afternoon we'll look at Team USA with another special guest.

TEAM CANADA

Last Game: In their first contest of the tournament Canada met up with another medal favorite, Russia. Schenn (Kings 2009 first round pick) had a goal and an assist as Canada downed the Russians 6-3. Kitsyn (Kings 2010 sixth round pick) had the first goal of the game for Russia.

Next Game: Today at 1pm PST Canada will take on the Czech Republic in a game that can be seen live on the NHL Network. This will be a much bigger test for the Czechs, who won their opening game on Monday by a score of 2-0 over Norway.

Alumni Guest:  Drew Doughty

Monday, December 27, 2010

POLL: Goalies - What Would You Do?

Is the goaltending battle that many expected for the LA Kings this season finally in full bloom?

After a rocky start, Jonathan Bernier appears to have found his game. Sunday's victory over the Ducks gave him back to back wins for the first time this season. And he only gave up one goal in each start.

After the victory over Anaheim, coach Terry Murray remarked, "I will get back to looking at him more, to get back in our rotation."

Then, Jonathan Quick seemingly one-upped the suddenly-hot Bernier on Monday night, posting a shutout in San Jose against the Sharks - his third of the month.

Which brings us to the question at hand...now what?

The Kings will take tomorrow off and then begin another set of back-to-back games in Phoenix on Wednesday night.

If you were coach Murray, who would you put in net vs. the Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers?




Poll closes Wednesday at noon or as soon as Murray announces his starting netminders.

[UPDATE:  Poll is now closed, Murray disagreed with most of you.  He's going with Quick in net vs. the Coyotes and Bernier vs. Philly on Thursday.]

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor


RELATED ARTICLES:

Counted Out Too Quickly? - feature article on Quick

Looking Back with Bernier - he talks about his road to the NHL

Westgarth and the Week Ahead

As we enter the final week of 2010, the schedule doesn't appear to be friendly for the Kings.

Last night's game with Anaheim began a stretch where they'll play four games in five nights - something they haven't had to do since the 1994-95 season. And that includes 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 when the NHL played a compressed schedule due to the Olympics.

Even though forward Kevin Westgarth was a healthy scratch vs. the Ducks, he knew what last night's game meant to the Kings - saying things like "looking to get a little vengeance" and "we need to come out swinging after Christmas."

Yes, they needed payback as well as momentum - something that had been on their side since the first meeting with the Ducks, having gone 7-2-1 since that 2-0 loss in Anaheim on November 29.

With the payback complete, in the form of a 4-1 beat down last night at the Staples Center, now the Kings are looking to keep the momentum going.  Here's how Westgarth sees the match-ups this week...

MM:  You guys haven't seen much of the Sharks this year.  Yet, you'll get them twice this week.  What's your read on San Jose right now?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

World Juniors 2011 - What You Need To Know

If you're like most hockey fans south of Canada, you probably don't pay too much attention to future NHL prospects. Junior hockey isn't a big deal in the States and big time college hockey is limited to a handful of markets. So, it's understandable.

However, if you were going to make an exception to your normal practices, this is the week to do it.

Each year, beginning the day after Christmas (Boxing Day in Canada), the top 10 nations gather their best under 20 year old players to participate in the World Junior Hockey Championship (WJC).

Team USA won the gold last year on Canadian soil. This year the games are in Buffalo, NY and the Kings have one player on each of the three teams favored to win medals (US, Canada and Russia).

Nearly every NHL star of the past or present has participated in this event for their country. On the current Kings roster alone you're talking about Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth - heck, Marco Sturm even played for Germany.

Below you'll get a quick cheat sheet filled with what you need to know for the 2011 WJC - including the format, Kings prospects, TV schedule, top teams and key players to watch...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday Series - Gifts of Christmas Yet To Come

[Part three of a three part series]

Over the last two days we've presented the first two installments of this year's gift series using the theme from Charles Dickens' classic novel A Christmas Carol.

Thursday's Kings Gifts of Christmas Past included items such as a game worn Rogie Vachon mask, a Gretzky doll and the must have book for all Kings fans.

Yesterday's Kings Gifts of Christmas Present featured Bailey, his/her items, magazines and some of the hottest shirts around!

For the final chapter in the series, we proudly present the Gifts of Christmas Yet To Come...a special sneak peek at five items that may be available in the not-too-distant future...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Kings Outdoor Game(s)











Could the Kings be headed to next year's Winter Classic?

More on that in a minute, first up a DVR alert.

Early Saturday morning (5am PST) the NHL Network will air an encore presentation of what many consider to be the first outdoor game played by two NHL teams.

Played on September 27, 1991 in Las Vegas, this game didn't feature the picturesque snow filled background that has become part of the recent New Year's Day tradition.

No, this game was played in summer heat. LAKings.com describes the game as:

Holiday Series - Gifts of Christmas Present

[Part two of a three part series]

Yesterday we posted the initial offering of this year's gift series using the theme from Charles Dickens' classic novel A Christmas Carol.

Our essential collection of Kings Gifts of Christmas Past included an inexpensive puck from the '60s, a $33,000 game worn Rogie Vachon mask, a few game worn jersey options, the coolest pair of LA Gear shoes ever made, the original pillow pet and a must have book for all Kings fans.

In part two of the series we look at the best-of-the-best Kings Gifts of Christmas Present...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ryan Report - Smyth Passing 99 vs Oilers

While these days the Kings are jokingly referred to as Flyers-West, there was a time many years ago when they were Oilers-South.

In fact, the Kings most bitter rival for much of the '80's and '90s was Edmonton. The two teams already didn't like each other long before the 1988 trade for Wayne Gretzky and they almost always seemed to meet up in the playoffs.

It wasn't only players and fans that had a disdain for each other though. Even Bob Miller, the voice of the Kings, said "I hated the Oilers (of the early 80's), their arrogance really bugged me."

Adding to the decades long drama is a list of guys who have suited up on both sides of the rivalry. In Los Angeles, besides the obvious one in Gretzky, it's a group that includes names from the past like Kurri, McSorley, Conacher and Fuhr...to more recent names like Buchberger, Greene and Stoll.

When it comes to a Kings-Oilers game though, it's the number 99 that's linked most strongly to the two franchises. However, tonight Ryan Smyth goes one digit beyond.  This will be his 100th game as a King.

Nobody will ever know if the NHL schedule makers set it up that way on purpose or it's just another one of those schedule quirks that helps write a perfect script.  Rather convenient though for a guy who played the bulk of his career with one of the teams and now finds himself on the other side of the ice.

Even more symbolic is the fact that on January 22, 1995, Smyth debuted for the Oilers during a road trip.  Their opponent that night?  Yes, they were in Los Angeles to face the Kings at the old Forum in Inglewood.  Although the Oilers won 4-3, Smyth doesn't quite remember most of the details beyond the first period.

"Ron Lowe was the coach and I was sitting on the bench. The face-off was going to be just outside our blue line. He said 'Alright Smitty, go out.' Wayne Gretzky was right across, at center. I was like 'Holy jeez.' I was standing there looking at him. He got kicked out (of the face-off), so he was standing right next to me." Smyth recalls.

Kings vs Oilers - Game Preview w/ Kelly Buchberger

While Kelly Buchberger may not be the household name of Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin, hockey fans everywhere know the value of a player like him.

For those that may think calling him a poor man's Mark Messier is a putdown - it's not! - instead, think of him as Mess-light...a compliment of the highest standard. As a player, Buchberger was a winner and a leader. He knew what it took to win and did anything his team asked of him.

Although he spent much of his career with the Oilers (including a run as team captain), acquiring him from the Atlanta Thrashers in the spring of 2000 may have been one of the most important moves made by the Kings during their first 10 years at Staples Center (as written about here).

He won two Stanley Cups in Edmonton (1987, 1990) and finished his career with 1,182 NHL games.

These days he's back with the Oilers, now serving as their assistant coach.

He was kind enough to join us for a preview of tonight's contest.

MM:  Let's start with a just quick recap of how the season is going for the Oilers so far...

Holiday Series - Gifts of Christmas Past

[Part one of a three part series]

In Charles Dickens' classic novel A Christmas Carol the reader is taken through a spiritual awakening of Ebenezer Scrooge, a process that includes visits from the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

That tale began on Christmas Eve, however we're going to begin a day earlier and with a slightly different twist.

For the enjoyment of you and the other hockey fans in your life this holiday season, we present an essential collection of Kings Gifts of Christmas Past...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Terry Murray on Coaching Memories

Tomorrow night vs. Edmonton Terry Murray gets a shot at a little piece of history.

With a victory in his 197th game with the Kings, he can become the quickest coach to reach 100 wins.  Tom Webster (1989-92) holds the current record at 211 games.

After practice today I asked Murray to reflect back over his long career and pick out a few of his favorite memories...

"Getting to the Stanley Cup Finals is always a memorable time (1997 with Philadelphia). As a coach, that's your goal, that's what we're here for is to win and to get an opportunity to with a Stanley Cup. That was very memorable and was a great time.

"I guess going back even to the first years I got into the coaching side of the business, as an assistant coach, Brian (his brother) and I take over the Washington Capitals - who had never made the playoffs in their eight or nine years of existence. That year, getting into the playoffs and becoming a pretty good hockey club - that was a big step for that organization. There was a lot of turmoil. There was a lot of that talk of 'let's save the franchise, move it to Seattle, Washington' and all that stuff was going on. David Polie came in as the GM. So, there's good memories out of that stuff whenever you have an impact on what's going to happen and how the team plays."

Terry Murray Update on Alec Martinez

Before the Kings left on their just completed five-game road trip coach Terry Murray provided some initial comments about Alec Martinez.

He had only played six games with the team at that point and knowing it can sometimes take time for a young defenseman to adjust to the NHL, Murray pointed out he was improving each game and specifically liked his "body positioning and low play" compared to last season.

Now with an expanded body of work since we last spoke, I asked Murray for some additional thoughts on Martinez after practice today...

"We really like what Alec has brought and how his game has evolved here from the time that I first saw him two years ago. He came to training camp this year and had a good camp. He does a lot of good things and it was very noticeable actually throughout the exhibition games. He went down to Manchester (AHL) with the right attitude and was arguably their best player down there, putting up a lot of points and doing everything a player needs to do to develop his game.

"Since he's come up we've liked everything he's doing - his attitude, his work ethic, etc. When he's sitting in individual review he's asking a lot of questions, talking about his game. The part that has always been the achilles heel with him is he gets a little down on himself after making some kind of a mistake. He really takes on that responsibility and has a tough time bouncing back.

"He's getting through that though. He's maturing and we're seeing a pretty complete player who's only going to get better as a young guy."

When Matt Greene returns (probably 12/26) and Willie Mitchell makes it back into the line-up, the Kings will be faced with some tough decisions. Murray has previously said he doesn't want to play seven guys on D in a game.

So, that leaves one spot and three bodies - Martinez, along with Davis Drewiske and Peter Harrold (both of whom would have to clear waivers before being assigned to Manchester - a highly unlikely scenario). It's something to keep an eye on in the weeks ahead.



The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor  


RELATED ARTICLES

10 Tidbits on Alec Martinez

10 Tidbits on Willie Mitchell

Whiskey in the Morning - comments from Davis Drewiske

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Kelly Hrudey on Jonathan Quick

Former Kings goaltender (and current Hockey Night in Canada analyst) Kelly Hrudey was on NHL Live radio yesterday. He talked quite a bit about Jonathan Quick, so I thought I'd pass on some of the quotes...

Billy Jaffe asked "If you could pick one goalie to start a team with right now, who would it be?"

Hrudey responded with "For many reasons I can chose about five or ten guys. So, this may surprise you a little bit - but because of age, because of the way he's playing right now, I'd guess I'd go with Carey Price...but, I may go with Jonathan Quick."

He went on to say that Quick "really impressed" him last year and he's "20 percent better" this season, adding "there's just something about his mental make-up that makes him feel like he's a general back there. Like nothing is going to affect him. He is, in my opinion, in the top five right now."

Hrudey said even though Quick isn't "getting a lot of credit" right now and is "flying under the radar," that "because of his competitive nature" he likes him a lot.

High praise from a guy that knows a thing or two about the position.

For more comments from Hrudey about many of the top goaltenders in the Western Conference - including more on Quick/Bernier, plus Roberto Luongo, Marty Turco, Antti Niemi, Jimmy HowardCraig AndersonJaroslav Halak, etc. - be sure to check out his visit to MayorsManor from earlier this season.  We covered it all in an interview linked here.



The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Captain Cools Off Colorado

Heading into action tonight most of the focus was on number 10 for the Kings due to the debuting Marco Sturm. When things were over, 23 was the number of the night. Dustin Brown had four points (2g, 2a) and Jonathan Quick made 23 saves.

Back on April 1 of last season Brown had the first four point night of his career, as part of a hat trick against the visiting Vancouver Canucks. Tonight in Colorado, his play was anything but a joke.

He looked mean, hungry and full of confidence. It was the best overall game he's played in quite some time.

And the best part is, you could probably say that about half a dozen players on the team - including his linemate Anze Kopitar.

The highly talented number 11 was THIS close to netting what would have been perhaps the highlight goal of the year, passing the puck back to himself between his own legs. Even without it though, his performance was what the Kings wish they received more often - dazzling plays at both ends of the ice.

Colorado's roster featured red-hot Matt Duchene and Tomas Fleischmann, the NHL's top two picks among the three stars of the week.  The Avs hadn't been shutout all season.  They were also riding a six-game winning streak and came into the game as the NHL's highest scoring team.

In the Kings corner, well - they entered the contest having alternated wins and losses over the last six games. 

It all went out the window when Rob Scuderi scored the first goal of the game.  That's usually a sign something freaky is about to go down.  Not only was it his first of the season, but first in nearly 200 games.

The above cast took over from there - with one notable exception.  It was the Avs they were playing, so, Brad Richardson had to get in on the fun.  He did, putting his fourth goal of the year past Craig Anderson in the second.  That's Brad 4, Avs 0 with one game to go.

A solid performance and a nice way to end their five game roadtrip.

One more thing - last time Willie Mitchell was out of the line-up the Kings went 1-5 on the road.  So far this time they're 2-1.

But, what about Sturm, you ask?  Nearly 12 minutes of ice time spread over 16 shifts.  One shot on goal.  He looked fine for his first night back.  Now let's just see how long coach Terry Murray leaves him on the fourth line.



The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor.com


RELATED ARTICLES:

10 Tidbits on Marco Sturm

Podcast with Ian Laperriere - former Kings and Avs forward

Counted Out Too Quickly? - feature piece on Jonathan Quick

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POLL: How Many Goals For Marco Sturm?

This one is just for fun. No betting please.

A few days ago I commented that if Marco Sturm begins his career with the LA Kings prior to Christmas, I'd set the over/under for his season goal total at 12.

As Chris over at The Royal Half pointed out, that may be placing the bar too high - especially considering Michal Handzus had seven goals in 82 games after surgery and Justin Williams had four in 44 after his injuries. So, maybe 12 in 50 games doesn't seem likely.

What do you think? Assuming the plan plays out as expected, tonight will mark game one of Sturm's time with the Kings. He'll start out on the fourth line, however coach Terry Murray expects to move him up to the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown as soon as possible (think Sunday 12/26).

So, how many goals will Sturm have with the Kings during the regular season?



Poll closes Wednesday at noon.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

* * * Save 10% on either Sturm shirt in the MayorsManor store. Use code TSHIRTSALES1 here: http://bit.ly/fiGJnu * * *


Monday, December 20, 2010

...And Now You're Caught Up (12/20/2010)

Hockey has a certain rhythm to it. Every shift, every game and every season is inevitably packed with ebbs and flows. Teams are never as bad as they appear during their lowest points. Never as good as they seem during their highest ones. The very best clubs then must be not just talented, but resilient. Not just hungry, but focused.

That's form the new HBO documentary '24/7' - where they're providing a raw, behind the scenes look at the Penguins and Capitals leading up to the Winter Classic. The first episode was unlike any hockey show you've ever seen and should be mandatory viewing for all fans. You can check out the PG-rated version online for free here.

Rumor has it the Kings are working on a similar all-access type show to be produced by their Kings Vision team for online viewing.  It should debut in early 2011.

Now, if shopping, back-to-back Kings games, holiday parties, etc. has been keeping you from the HBO special and other key hockey stories over the last few days, don't worry - we're here to help. Below are the twelve puck related news items you need to know coming out of the weekend...

*  Donald Fehr was approved as the new head of the NHL Players Association, effective immediately.  Exactly what this means when it comes to the impending negotiations with the league office and rumors of a possible work stoppage is pure speculation at this point. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story (for now) is that the NHLPA constitution is publicly available on their website.  That may be a first in sports.

*  One of the greatest American born players of all-time, Chris Chelios, was honored before the Red Wings - Blackhawks game on Friday night.  Video of the ceremonies can be seen here.

[After the jump - notes on Bernier/Quick, San Jose Sharks, Mike Cammalleri, Matt Greene, Brayden Schenn, Manchester, injury updates, trade rumors and much more.]

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Then, Along Came Jonathan Bernier

Heading into the game on March 30th of last season, the Nashville Predators were riding a seven game unbeaten streak against the LA Kings - a stretch going back to the beginning of the 2008-09 season.

Then, along came Jonathan Bernier.

With Erik Ersberg suffering from a strained back, he was recalled from Manchester, stepped right into the line-up and delivered a 2-0 shutout - the first of his career (in just his sixth NHL start).

When the Predators came to Los Angeles for the first game of their four-game season series with the Kings this year, Bernier was back in net again.

The Kings won 4-1. Unfortunately, his second shutout was ruined with less than three minutes to go in the game. Still, Bernier 2 - Predators 0 lifetime.

So, it was a natural choice when Kings coach Terry Murray decided to pull Bernier from his near-permanent seat on the bench and return him to the net against Nashville tonight.

On cue, Bernier delivered.

Kings 6, Predators 1.

There's a good chance Jonathan Quick will start the next nine Kings games in a row, beginning Sunday against the Blackhawks.  Fortunately for Bernier, the Predators come to Los Angeles on Thursday, January 6.

Other stats and post game notes...

Friday, December 17, 2010

POLL: Least Favorite (active) NHL Player?

With news coming down that Chris Pronger will be out 4-6 weeks (meaning he won't face the Kings at Staples Center on 12/30), there's been an increased amount of anti-Pronger comments today on social media sites - namely facebook and twitter.

As the Kings are off today and it's a relatively slow news period, let's explore the Pronger issue. Is he the most hated man in the NHL?

The league has always had it's villains - Craig Muni, Rob Blake, Theo Fleury, Patrick Roy and Doug Gilmour are just a few of the guys Kings' fans have loved to hate over the past few decades.

But, what about now?  There are a host of players that could have been added to the poll below - all for their own individual and varying reasons. However, these are probably the top vote getters playing at the moment.

So, who is your least favorite player in the NHL right now - for whatever reason, who is he?

[UPDATE: Final poll results available after the jump. Who won - Pronger, Perry, Avery?]

Recap of Brayden Schenn on NHL Radio

There's finally a plan in place for Brayden Schenn's next few weeks.

He's been living day-to-day for the last three months. Not anymore. Currently, he's with Team Canada and preparing to start the World Junior Championships on Boxing Day (12/26).

Here's a quick recap of his interview on NHL Radio...

* This year's team (Canada) is "big and fast and looks good on paper."

* They'll probably arrive in Buffalo on 12/23. Their first game is 12/26 vs. Russia.

* It's been a "whirlwind of a first half" for him, filled with "a lot of uncertainty." However, he values the experience he gained with the Kings, the Manchester Monarchs, etc.

* He's one of four returnees for Canada, the defending champion U.S. has eight. He's not worried about being ranked second entering the tournament. Canada is "expected to win gold every year" and it's up to the U.S. to deal with that pressure.

* He thinks Russia has something to prove, given their loss to the Swiss in the semi-finals last year. So, that's going to be a good test for Canada right out of the gate.

* In his opinion, Canada will have great goaltending and big defenseman. Offensively, they don't have guys like Jordan Eberle (Edmonton Oilers) - but he doesn't agree with people who say the team will have trouble scoring.

* He talks to his older brother Luke (Toronto Maple Leafs) nearly everyday, either via text or phone call. They're 21 months apart.

It's rumored that Schenn is one of the three front runners for the Team Canada captaincy.  So far, nothing has been officially announced, should be within the next few days.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

RELATED ARTICLES:

The Complete Story on Brayden Schenn

Coach Terry Murray on the hold up with Brayden Schenn

Comments from Schenn the day before being returned to the WHL

Comments from Schenn after eight games in October

Recap of Marco Sturm on NHL Radio

Recap of Marco Sturm on NHL Radio

For a guy who isn't playing right now, Marco Sturm sure is wrapping up the frequent miles over the last week or so. From Boston to Los Angeles, then off to St. Louis where he joined the Kings and he's now in Nashville.

In between travel, rehabbing his knee, and getting to know his new teammates, Sturm took time out to check in with the NHL Power Play radio show. Here are the highlights...

* He thought the trade was going down 10 days ago. He went to LA earlier this week and passed all his tests and he's "glad to be an LA King now."  It was tough mentally though because he had to say goodbye to his Bruins teammates multiple times.

* Being traded from San Jose to Boston was more difficult, as it was the first time he had to face that situation. However, he had two guys with him (Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau) and they helped him a lot. The good thing this time was he was more prepared for the trade to happen.

* Going back to California is a positive in the deal. He loved it in San Jose and knew he wanted to come back this way. As soon as he heard Dean Lombardi was interested, it was an easy decision for him to waive his no trade clause.

* At the time he joined the Bruins (2005-06), he thinks the Eastern Conference had the "big guys, the tougher guys." Now, hockey has changed. The West is tight - not only the standings, but how they play the game. Recently, he's been trying to watch as many games from the West as possible to familiarize himself with things.

* He's pushing to play two games before Christmas, might only get one though.

* He had a good week of practice in Boston, including full contact. He wants one week with the Kings before getting into a game. He feels good, feels healthy.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

RELATED ARTICLES:

10 Tidbits on Marco Sturm

Marco Sturm:  Five Points on the LA-Boston Trade

Sturm Completes the St. Louis Circle

How the Sturm Trade Affects Schenn

Welcome to LA - 10 Tidbits on Willie Mitchell

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cam Janssen's Five Minute Major Preview: LA v StL

Cam Janssen is in his sixth NHL season, the last four with the St. Louis Blues. He's posted only two goals while racking up 589 penalty minutes in 219 games. It's what you call 'knowing your role.'

In the interview below he helps us preview tonight's Kings - Blues game. We talk about LA's tough guys, playing for his hometown team, scouting NHL enforcers, BizNasty's tweets, Keith Tkachuk's retirement, adding Jaroslav Halak...and he even gives a prediction for the game.

MM: Although the Blues didn't make the playoffs last year and the Kings did, you guys took the season series from LA 3-1. Tonight will be the first match-up this season. What will be the keys to the game?

CJ: They're a good young, skilled team. They're playing good solid hockey right now and they're one of the best teams in the Western Conference. We have a lot of injuries right now. So, we have to come out and immediately get our feet going on our forecheck.  Also, the first five strikes back are so key for us. Catching up with an odd man rush or what could be an odd man rush is important, knowing that we don't have the skill or power we're used to because of our injuries. So, we need to be effective with our details - that's skating hard, being in the right position and back checking with a purpose. The Kings offense is good. So, if we don't do that, they're going to take advantage of us.

Over the summer there were a few significant changes to the Blues' line-up. What were your first thoughts when you heard goaltender Jaroslav Halak was coming to St. Louis?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Welcome to LA - 10 Tidbits on Marco Sturm

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The last time the Kings went looking for help on the left side it took almost the whole summer to figure out that Ilya Kovalchuk would be staying in New Jersey.

Fortunately, this time around, it only took around 10 days to officially announce Marco Sturm had been traded to Los Angeles.

While it may still be another week or so until he sees game action (more on that in a minute), now's as good a time as any to get to know the newest King.

We'll get you started with 10 Tidbits on Marco Sturm...

1. He was born in Dingolfing, Germany - home of the world's largest BMW plant.  Several other German players have made the NHL too, most were goaltenders (Olaf Kolzig being the most famous) or are currently playing for the Nashville Predators (Marcel Goc and Alexander Sulzer).

2. Sturm will be the second German born player to wear a Kings jersey. Randy Gilhen was the first back in 1991-92 when he sported #15 for 33 games.

3. He shares his September 8th birthday with Kings legend Rogie Vachon, former Kings forward Teddy Purcell and one of the most exciting players from last year's NHL draft class, Nino Niederreiter (NY Islanders).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sturm Completes St. Louis Circle

The Marco Sturm to LA trade is now complete.

And while many will write about the past relationship between Kings GM Dean Lombardi and Sturm, there is another interesting aspect to the 'full circle' part of this story.

It was on June 22, 1996 when Dean Lombardi - then GM of the San Jose Sharks - extended his arm to shake the hand of Sturm, whom he had just selected with the 21st overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft.

That event took place at the Kiel Center (now renamed to the Scottrade Center) in St. Louis, Missouri. Assuming Lombardi is traveling with the team, it's safe to assume he'll be waiting in St. Louis again tomorrow to complete the circle - hand extended, with a smile, happy to once again be welcoming Sturm into the fold.

Between those two hand shakes 14 1/2 years apart, Sturm has played 855 NHL games for the Sharks and Bruins. He's posted 466 points (234g, 232a) and scored over 20 goals in seven of his 12 NHL seasons.

We'll have more on the 6'0' left wing later today in a separate article, using our popular '10 Tidbits' format.



The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.MayorsManor.com

RELATED ARTICLE:

Marco Sturm:  Five Points on LA-Boston Trade

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Drew Doughty Is Odd Man Out in LA

LOS ANGELES, CA -- The Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings each have one. So, we can't be talking about Stanley Cups.

The Chicago Blackhawks have a pair. No, this has nothing to do with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

In San Jose, they have a trio. While the Penguins have four.

Yet in L.A., the Kings have six and one more an injured reserve.

You see, every defenseman on the Kings' roster is from a U.S. college hockey program - with one exception, Drew Doughty.

It's a rather surprising statistic considering outside of a few pockets - Boston and Minnesota, for example - most Americans don't even have college hockey on their radar. In fact, casual hockey fans in the U.S. probably just think that hockey players come from...um, Canada. While that may be true historically, there is a major shift underway.

College sports news tends to come in two waves. Right now it's bowl season, so it's college football 24/7. This gives fans of the Raiders, Giants, Cowboys, etc. a chance to see some of the best up and coming grid iron warriors.

In the spring, it's March Madness - featuring non-stop college hoops news. Again, giving fans of the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, etc. the opportunity to check out future NBA ballers.

But, what about hockey?

It's become a big time part of hockey development.

The Kings are not only stacked with former college hockey players at the NHL level, they're betting big on the future too - having taken Derek Forbort in the first round of last June's draft. He's currently a freshman at the University of North Dakota, one of the top college programs in the country.

Equally as impressive as the sheer numbers on the Kings' roster are the accomplishments of those players while in school...

[note: The remainder of this article appears exclusively on TheFourthPeriod.com, where The Mayor will be providing additional Kings coverage throughout the season. Please click here now to continue reading...and learn more about Jack Johnson, Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell and others.]

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Kings in Giving Mood on Red Kettle Night

Jonathan Quick just might be the biggest Grinch in all of HockeyTown, USA right now.

The Red Wings were trying to get into the holiday spirit by hosting Red Kettle night on Monday. And why not - the Salvation Army has a big presence in Detroit, including hosting the world's largest kettle in Campus Martius Park.

While the visiting Kings were in the giving mood - allowing a season high 51 shots on goal, the stingy Quick stopped them all.

At the other end of the ice, the Kings deposited five goals in Detroit's net and picked up a huge win to kick off their five-game road trip.

Here are some other news and notes from the game...

* Wayne Simmonds opened the scoring. All I can say is be sure to read this article from yesterday to understand why it was bound to happen.

* Oscar Moller scored his first goal of the season, to put LA up 2-0. This could (read: should) be his final audition for the Kings prior to being part of a trade (we look at the issue here).  The play was set up by Drew Doughty 'walking the line' and taking a shot - a move he used so effectively last season, yet is hardly doing this year for some reason.

* Anze Kopitar put in the third goal of the game. During the pre-game radio show Daryl Evans said Kopitar needs to learn to be more selfish. I couldn't agree more. He should have 40+ goals every year.

He's Back... Five Questions with Willie Mitchell

As Willie Mitchell prepares for his return to the Kings line-up tonight, we caught up with him for an exclusive interview.

Among the topics he talks about is trying to find a positive in being out injured, tonight's milestone game and he weighs in on young defenseman, Alec Martinez.

MM: Any observations while watching the team from the sidelines over the last few weeks?

WM: Our game is starting to come around. We're starting to shoot the puck a little more. It's good. This game has peaks and valleys over the course of a season. Every team has them and we had a little bit of a valley there obviously. It's a younger team, so sometimes the trough becomes a little bit bigger because sometimes when you're a little younger you get a little emotional.  When things are going really well you get a little too cocky and when things aren't going as planned you start to shrug the shoulders and your stick gets a little heavier. It's up to (the veterans) in this room to help with that. Guys seem to be playing a little better right now though and we're trying to get back to what we were doing at the start of the year.

MM: You were acquired in late August, camp was a few weeks later, then then season started - it all happened so quickly.  So, was being out of the line-up a positive at all, in the sense that you could sit back and observe the team a little...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How the Sturm Trade Affects Schenn

About a week ago, in an article titled 'The Complete Story on Brayden Schenn' we went through the trials and tribulations of the first 18-months between the Kings and their teenage center.

It's been marked by trade rumors, a knee injury, a one day contract, loopholes in league agreements and much, more.

Well, just went you thought Schenn would be on the back burner for a while (since he's been sent back to junior hockey), think again.

No, he hasn't been recalled. Yet, he does find himself caught up in another Kings story. Just yesterday the team made a trade with the Boston Bruins for left wing Marco Sturm. Then, late today, word came out that Sturm will wear jersey #10 in Los Angeles - Schenn's number.

Yes, Schenn made his NHL debut last November wearing #55. However, once the Kings decided to keep him with the big club coming out of training camp this year he was given #10, a number he wears with both the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) and Team Canada as a tribute to his favorite player as a child, Pavel Bure.

Sturm had been wearing #16 in Boston - a number that will never be worn again by a Kings player, having been retired in honor of Marcel Dionne. When Sturm first broke into the league with the Sharks (after being drafted by their then-GM Dean Lombardi), he wore #19.  No reason has been given yet on how/why he ended up with #10 here.

Assuming Schenn stays in the WHL all year, this could be a non-issue. Sturm will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end and may not be back next year. Or...

It is Schenn we're talking about, so... OR just add it to the list.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor


RELATED ARTICLES:

The Complete Story on Brayden Schenn

Marco Sturm:  Five Points on the LA-Boston trade

Jersey Numerology

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...And Now You're Caught Up

For all the Kings fans that had a busy weekend shopping for gifts, going to holiday parties, watching football, etc. - don't worry. We've got you covered.

You should already know the score from last night's game. So, in no particular order, here are the ten other things you need to know heading into the work week ahead...

* Kyle Clifford continues to impress and now the sponsors are taking notice. This week the rookie signed an agreement with Bauer to wear their equipment from head to toe. He was already using their skates and sticks - I guess you can now add gloves, helmet, etc.

* More on The Colonel - If you missed UFC's pay-per-view card from Montreal by going to the Kings game instead Saturday night, you still got to see a great fight. Here's video of Clifford destroying Brad Staubitz.

* Last night was defenseman Rob Scuderi's 400th NHL game. It was also his 100th game with the Kings. When Willie Mitchell returns to the line-up this week it will be his 600th NHL game. We'll have more from Mitchell in an interview on Monday where he talks about reaching the milestone plus what he's learned about the team while being on the sidelines the last few weeks.

Wild 3, Kings 2, Refs -5

A few weeks ago Kings Coach Terry Murray didn't want to hear any noise about the schedule being part of the team's problems when they were losing. He wasn't concerned about the extra time off, basically saying professionals just deal with it.

Some similar thinking may be in order after the LA-Minnesota game on Saturday night because it would be too easy to simply blame the referees. From initial face-off to final whistle the game lacked any sort of flow - mainly due to a feeling that the officials spent most of the game trying to make-up for a call they missed moments earlier.

Heeding Murray's advice though, set that aside for the time being.

Here are some things the Kings can't do and expect to win a hockey game most nights...

* You can't let your goaltender be one of the other team's most productive players.

* You can't take an avoidable penalty in overtime.

* You can't let your best defenseman be the guy in the box during a crucial penalty kill in o/t.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kings-Wild Preview with Jose Theodore

French Canadian goaltender. Debuted in the NHL as a teenager. Spent most of the next few seasons in the AHL. Finally arrived in the big show...with huge expectations. Perhaps even impossible to live up to.

Jonathan Bernier?

No, Jose Theodore.

Drafted by Montreal 44th overall at the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, expectations were huge right from the start. Come on, he was expected to one day replace Patrick Roy in net.

Eventually he left the Canadiens, making stops in Colorado and Washington before landing in Minnesota just before the start of this season. His primary job these days is backing up Niklas Backstrom. However, as I reported on twitter yesterday, he'll get the start tonight vs. the Kings.

Here are some thoughts from him regarding the match-up...

MM: Having played most of your career in the East, the Kings are a team you've only played 12 times during 11-plus years in the league. Any thoughts about facing them?

JT: Well, they're a good team. Look at the standings, they're right there. It's really tight. So, it's going to be a fun game to play and it should be a really fast game.

MM: The Kings will start Jonathan Quick. Would it be any more interesting if they went with Jonathan Bernier instead?

Kings-Wild Preview with Andrew Brunette

Forward Andrew Brunette has 30 points (8g, 22a) in 41 career games vs. the Los Angeles Kings. He also has 18 points in 18 games at Staples Center.

After a three year run with the Colorado Avalanche (2005-08), he's now in the third year of his second tour of duty for the Minnesota Wild. A few weeks from now he'll be playing in his 1,000 NHL game. In the interview below he helps us preview tonight's Kings-Wild game...

MM: You guys are having an up and down season. Yet, you had a big win the other night in Phoenix. What type of momentum does that give you coming into the game against the Kings?

AB: We've had a hard time grabbing a hold of momentum and carrying it through. So, we'll find out. Hopefully, we can continue doing what we've been doing the last three or four games and get a big win.

MM: In Colorado a game vs. LA probably meant more than it does to the Wild, from a rivalry perspective. Having been part of those games, does this match-up mean anything to you personally?

Final Audition?

When is the right time to cut bait with a prospect?

Kings GM Dean Lombardi has openly said he probably waited a year too long with Brian Boyle, in terms of getting maximum trade value.

It's just so tough though. When a kid hasn't even played a full season - or probably two - in the NHL, how do you really know if he'll ever be ready?

Oscar Moller is probably at that fork in the road with the Kings.

The 21 year old forward was drafted by Los Angeles in the second round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, he's played 74 games with the team through multiple call-ups over the past two seasons.

He's also been spending time in Manchester, where he was when recalled yesterday. He has 18 points in 19 games there this season (6g, 11a).

Besides his size (listed at 5'10", yet he sure seems smaller), the biggest hurdle to a full-time job with the Kings may have been injuries. 

In fact, Coach Terry Murray talked about it just a few weeks ago when discussing the possibility of Brayden Schenn playing in the World Junior Championships this year.  Moller was injured while captaining Team Sweden at the tournament a few years ago. Specifically, Murray said "It (the injury, a clavicle fracture) set him back the rest of that year and maybe had an impact on how things went the following year."

Regardless, if the team was that high on him, you would think he'd have already been with the big club. If he had the ability to score at the NHL level, he'd be with the Kings. They need scoring.

So, perhaps this is it. The final audition...aka a prelude to a trade.



The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

RELATED ARTICLE:

Terry Murray on the Brayden Schenn situation - WHL, World Jrs, etc.


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Wild Comments on Patrick O'Sullivan

Earlier today we posted a preview of tonight's Kings game with the newest member of the Minnesota Wild, Patrick O'Sullivan.

Below are some comments on O'Sullivan from two other members of the Wild organization - coach Todd Richards and veteran forward Andrew Brunette. Both were asked how he's fitting in...

Richards: Patrick has come in and done a pretty good job for us. I've used him in a lot of different situations, a lot of different positions with a lot of different players. He has the skill. You can see that. The thing for him - because he can help us - he makes us a better team when he's going and he's playing. But, it's getting that consistent effort every night. I would say in the last two games he's played he's done a pretty good job for us. So, that's what we need each and every night, him being able to make those plays. He's a creative player, he makes our power play better and he makes the players around him better. He's a player we can use as long as he's out there working.

[Does any of this sound familiar?]

Brunette: I think he's fit in real well. He has some real good offensive instincts.  That's an area we can always use more of, just like every other team. He knows where he's going in the offensive zone. He gets himself in the right place in the right time. So, he's fit in nice so far.

[More comments from Brunette coming up later today, including his thoughts on the Kings]

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

RELATED ARTICLES:

Kings-Wild Game Preview with Patrick O'Sullivan

Game Preview with Jose Theodore - talking Bernier, Staples Center, Ryan Smyth, etc.

Game Preview with Andrew Brunette - talking Smyth, the Kings, Theodore vs. Backstrom, etc.

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Kings-Wild Preview with Patrick O'Sullivan

Soon after Dean Lombardi arrived as GM of the LA Kings in 2006 he made two then-somewhat-unpopular trades. Eric Belanger and Tim Gleason were traded to Carolina for Jack Johnson. And Patrick O'Sullivan was acquired from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Pavol Demitra.

It's obvious at this point which ended up being the better of the deals.

O'Sullivan has since played for three different teams - including two this year. Prior to tonight's game vs. the Kings, I sat down with him for some exclusive comments about the Kings-Wild match-up...

MM: You've been with Minnesota now for seven games. How are you fitting in?

POS: I think it's been pretty good. I feel pretty comfortable here and I'm starting to get used to how the team plays and the guys I'm playing with. It's been a bit of a struggle for our team lately. But, we had a good game in our last game - got a win against a good team in their rink, so it's something to build on (they beat the Coyotes 3-2 in Phoenix on Thursday). The Kings will be a tough test.

[note: after starting the year with the Carolina Hurricanes he was waived by them in late November]

MM: Going back to last month, did you see the end coming in Carolina or was it a bit of a surprise to you?

Jack Johnson - Master of His Own DVR

Jack Johnson is one of seven Kings defenseman who formerly played college hockey. From 2005-07 he was at the University of Michigan - the school that's sent more players to the NHL than any other program. So, naturally, he had a few things to say about the big game being played outdoors later today...

MM: Any thoughts on the Michigan - Michigan State game?

JJ: It's going to be awesome. I wish I could have played in a game like that. It's going to be the largest hockey game ever played (over 110,000 people expected). Those guys are going to have an awesome experience. I'm going to record it so I get a chance to watch it afterwards. I hope they get to soak in every minute of it.

[note: This past May, Johnson was part of the Team USA squad that played in the game currently holding the attendance record.  More on that in a moment.]

MM: Davis Drewiske said he had a bet last year with Scuderi and Harrold on the BC-Wisconsin game. Any wagers from your side of things?

JJ: Yeah, I put a little wager on the Michigan-Wisconsin football game. We also followed the College Hockey Showcase, the Michigan-Wisconsin game (played over Thanksgiving weekend). I have a little bet with Justin Abdelkader on this one too (the UM-MSU game).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Post Practice Comments - Kyle Clifford

Here's some thoughts from Kyle Clifford after the Kings practice this afternoon...

MM: A goal and a fight last night versus Calgary. What was the highlight of the night?

KC: We got the win. I think that's the most important thing. It's always fun to win and it's an added bonus when you score a goal.

MM: It sure looked like you were smiling during the whole fight with Tim Jackman. Were you just having too much fun out there last night?

KC: You know, anytime I'm dropping the gloves I'm always having a good time. I like to throw down and he's a tough customer. He's probably one of the tougher guys I've fought this year. But, yeah, I'm just going out there and having fun.

MM: You played against Calgary in the second game of the season. Were there any left over issues that had developed in that game or was it all new?

KC: Not really. We were pretty bitter that we lost that game though. That's pretty much what carried over. We came in with a good attitude after having a couple days off. We knew we had to come out strong.

MM: Last night you were back on the fourth line after playing a few on the third line with Michal Handzus. Are you more comfortable back on the fourth line and/or did you have to make any adjustments?

KC: I'm just going to stick to my game regardless of where I'm playing - fourth line, third line or where ever it is. It's a pretty simple, straight forward game. Up and down the boards. So, I'm going to stick to my role and whoever I'm playing with it's going to be the same every night.

MM: On the upcoming road trip there is only new team that you guys haven't seen yet this year, the St. Louis Blues. Any thoughts about facing them for the first time?

KC: Alex Pietrangelo is an old teammate of mine (with the Barrie Colts / OHL), so there will be a little bit of a rivalry there. But our attitude is to go in there and win.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

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Post Practice Comments - Kevin Westgarth

Here's some thoughts from Kevin Westgarth after the Kings practice this afternoon...

MM: The team has won three in a row to start off the month of December. What's been the biggest difference during this stretch compared to the rough patches in November?

KW: I think towards the end of our little skid we were playing some good hockey and just not getting the bounces. With a team like this, we have great veterans and great young guys. If everybody just sticks to the program, we're going to come out on top more often than not. So, that was basically the main thing - making sure we stuck to our guns and stuck to the game plan our coaches have set out for us from day one. It's starting to pay dividends back as we get rolling again.

MM: As a fan of the rough stuff, did you happen to notice that ear to ear smile on Kyle Clifford's face while he was going at it with Tim Jackman?

KW: Yeah, he enjoys it man. I think that's a huge part of being in that role. There's a lot of guys that don't (enjoy it). But, the more enjoyment you can take out of every part of life, the more you're going to be laughing. If he's enjoying getting punched in the face or punching other guys in the face, hey - that's awesome! It's great to have him as a teammate and a linemate too, right now. I just know that he has everybody's back on the team and he's a heck of a hockey player.

MM: He was off your line for a few games, moved up to the third line. Does it change your game at all having him back with you now?

KW: I think getting to play with guys more you become a little more accustom to them. You start to learn where they'll be without having to look and see if he's there on the ice. So, it definitely can build some pretty good chemistry. And I think Cliffy and I have a bit of that. So, I look forward to keeping it going. As Cliffy already put one in the net, maybe I'll be able to tap one in now or bounce one off my shin pads at some point soon.

MM: Looking ahead to Minnesota tomorrow night - you guys have already played them once. Any thoughts about the game?

KW: They're a solid team. Looking at the standings right now is pretty crazy because everybody is in a dog fight. In our division you have one team in first and all the others are tied for second. So, they're all important games. We know that Minnesota is a strong team. They've had their ups and downs, as well, this year. I know we're going to be ready. And again, the most important thing for us is to make sure we're doing our thing and playing our game.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

Restoring 45's Cool Factor

Number 45 was supposed to have significant meaning to the Kings this year.

Only seven players in the 40-plus year history of the franchise have worn that number on their jersey. Of that group, just one had any sort of prominence - center Sandy Moger in 1997-98. And 'prominence' is definitely too strong of a word.

Jonathan Bernier was to change all of that this season.

He was to have a coming out party between the pipes like nobody in this town has ever seen. The only question some people seemed to have was how long would it be before he took over the starting goaltending job from the other Jonathan, Quick.

Well, plans change.

Coach Terry Murray has taken an eraser to his "penciled in" goaltending schedule and looks to be going with the vintage "Play Quick A Lot" approach from a season ago. So far, it's working.

Yet, while Bernier sits idle, the Kings toasted a new '45' last night. They killed off their 45th straight power play at home before giving up a late third period score to the Flames.

No problem, the streak stops at 45 and the number's good name has been restored.

There's still time for Bernier. Until then though, 45 can be associated with an awesome ride by the penalty kill.

Besides, how fitting was it that the streak was broken by a former King, Olli Jokinen. Like Bernier, when drafted he was thought to be the future of the franchise. Instead, he was traded for Ziggy Palffy after a little more than one season with the team.

Perhaps equally as fitting was having the game winning goal come from Anze Kopitar - the guy who's ended up becoming that franchise center that Jokinen was never given the chance to be in LA.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/Mayor119

Thursday, December 9, 2010

STAT CHECK - LA vs CALGARY

Besides the two points, losing to Calgary in the second game of the year meant little in the big picture. It was a throw away game, coming on the second night of a back to back weekend series. More importantly, it came after an emotionally charged opening night in Vancouver just 24 hours prior.

This Kings team isn't filled with Gretzky, Robitaille and Blake. They don't hate the Flames, circa 1990. After making the playoffs last season for the first time in eight years - and the first time ever for most of the team - losing to the Canucks is what hurt. Thus, that's the game that's going to get them up this season.

So, that was the excuse last time.

How about the other games over the last few years, where the Kings have dropped 14 of 17 to the Flames?

Other stats to consider...

* Jarome Iginla - for all the talk a few weeks ago that he was about to be traded, perhaps even to the Kings, he's still with the Flames. In 20 career games at Staples Center he has 23 points (13g, 10a).

* Olli Jokinen - he's one of those players that "newer" Kings fans probably don't have a connection to. For those unfamiliar, think Brayden Schenn 10+ years ago. At the 1997 NHL Draft the Kings selected him third overall, behind only Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. He was supposed to be a a big time center with tons of promise. Instead of being the guy in LA for the next decade, he was traded for Ziggy Palffy a few months before the Kings moved downtown. In 10 career games at Staples Center he has seven points (4g, 3a).

* Alex Tanguay - he's a big fan of MayorsManor. Enough said.

* For all the talk about the weird schedule this year, how about last year - where the Kings played the Flames three times over a 10 game stretch in December? Was that really necessary? LA went 1-2 with their only win coming at Staples Center on December 7 by a 2-1 final. That was the Kings’ first victory over Calgary since February 2008.

* Their overall power play percentages are nearly dead-even, 14.6% for LA and 14.9% for Calgary. However, LA's penalty kill is much better, 86.6% compared to 83.3, including a perfect 43-for-43 at home.

* Justin Williams has arguably been the Kings' best player this season. How has he fared against the Flames?  In 11 career games he has just one goal...and one assist to keep that goal from getting too lonely in the stats column.

*  How about Dustin Brown?  Well, #23 has played 23 career games vs. the Flames and produced just nine points (3g, 6a).  Only one of his three goals has come at Staples Center.  However, he did have the lone goal against them earlier this year in Calgary.  So, that's somewhat encouraging.

* Ryan Smyth has 20 goals in 71 games vs. the Flames.  Yet, most of those came when he was an Oiler.  Not to mention, 12 of the 20 have come at the Saddledome.

* Kopitar, you say?  Anze has found success against the Flames, with 14 points (7g, 7a) in 17 career games.

Regardless of the stats listed above, this game will more than likely come down to goaltending.  Jonathan Quick and Miikka Kiprusoff are two of the best in the Western Conference.  History suggests it will be tough to get the puck by either of them.



The Mayor
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RELATED ARTICLES:

Remembering a Rivalry - Kings vs. Flames (w/ video of one of the best Kings goals ever scored)

Painting By Numbers With Ryan Smyth - his thoughts on key milestone games

The Complete Story on Brayden Schenn

Kings-Flames - A Playoff Preview? - published December 2009

Kings-Flames - By The Numbers - published December 2009

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