Saturday, February 6, 2010

Stacked Deck?

In less than two hours the Kings will hit the ice at Staples Center to face their old nemesis, the Detroit Red Wings. While LA seems to be making a habit of exercising old demons this season - including finally solving the Red Wings in Detroit a few weeks ago - the task at hand today could prove to be too daunting. The deck may just be stacked against them:

Game Time? The dreaded 1pm start. Not exactly this team's favorite. Yes, they've been playing better lately in the daytime tilts - dare I even mentioned they've won the last two 1:00 starts at home - but, still...

Does this jersey look good on me? Yes, the dreaded fashion police are back. We better check to see which jersey the team will wear today. Hmmm, a brief review of their third jersey schedule shows that today IS NOT on the agenda. Oh no, no black magic today. The Kings will have to somehow summon strength from their 'regular' jersey. Not exactly what you'd hope on a day when the Kings need all the help they can get...

Do the Kings have nine lives? They can't keep winning forever can they? This stretch has obviously been impressive, but can they push it to nine in a row? In the NHL, even for the best teams, streaks longer than five games are very difficult to pull off. So, the bigger question is can they win their 9th in a row against a veteran team desperately trying to stay in the playoff race?

The deck may be stacked against the Kings today. However, Terry Murray will surely be shuffling that deck as best he can to find another deuce.

The Mayor

Friday, February 5, 2010

Draft Watch - Tonight on TV

The Kings may be off, but tonight Fox Sports brings you another WHL game via DirecTV.

And among the many things we've learned since Dean Lombardi arrived in town...he loves him some WHL guys. Guys like Thomas Hickey (Dean's first round pick at the 2007 draft), Oscar Moller, Colten Teubert (first round pick in '08) and Brayden Schenn (first round in '09) all came from the Western Canadian Junior League.

Seattle Thunderbirds at Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
This game definitely has '2010 NHL Draft' stamped all over it.

Goaltender Calvin Pickard of Seattle is the number one ranked North American goalie by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau.

Plus, Nino-mania will be center stage again when Swiss superstar-to-be Nino Nierderreiter (RW) is on the ice for the Winterhawks. He leads a loaded Portland team that features five kids ranked in the top 100 - Nino (ranked #14), center Ryan Johansen (#16), defenseman Troy Rutkowski (#43), left wing Bradley Ross (#69) and defenseman Taylor Aronson (#90).

If you're unfamiliar with Nino, he recently had a strong World Juniors - adding to his already growing reputation. Then, in last month's CHL Skills Competition (at the CHL Prospects Game, basically a showcase event for the NHL Draft), the soon to be first rounder had the highlight goal of the skills event - click here to see the video.

The game can be seen on FoxSports Northwest (channel 687 on DirecTV) beginning at 7:30pm PST tonight.

Read. Watch. Enjoy.

The Mayor

Lombardi on Kovalchuk

From the PowerPlay on NHL Radio a few hours ago:

Johnathan Davis, our good buddy at Sporting America says to us that he had a chance to sit down with Dean Lombardi recently and asked him why Kovalchuk did not end up as a member of the Los Angeles Kings and was he frustrated in his efforts, was he ever close to a deal? Johnathan heard from Dean Lombardi that he was never close to a deal. In fact, he had only one conversation with Don Waddell.

He told Waddell that if the price were to come down, he should give Dean a call. Lombardi was not prepared to trade any of his top nine forwards or any of his top 6 blueliners as Lombardi said "The locker room has come together." These guys have developed a great bond amongst one another. They truly want to play for each other and the idea of having to break that up, as far as that goes, outweighed what Kovalchuk would bring to the team.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dean Being Dean


It's been said that sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make. Today was the case for the LA Kings. Lombardi was unwilling to pony up the four or five players it took to get Kovalchuk from Atlanta.

Good. You can argue all day long about the greatness of Kovi and how many goals he scores. Yet, the fact remains, that was WAY too steep of a price for a rental. Let Dean tweak things at the margins this season.

The LA Kings aren't just fine. They'll be more than fine for NOT doing the deal with Atlanta.

The Mayor

see previous article about who the Kings may target by clicking here

Kings-Ducks: The Last Time it Mattered This Much

It was 1993. December 2nd to be exact. The Kings were crashing hard, coming down from their high of going to the Stanley Cup Finals just seven months earlier. Now they were near the bottom of the Western Conference and riding a six game losing streak.

Staring them in the face was their worst nightmare - an expansion team. The Disney owned Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were in their inaugural season, which may not sound like much of a threat to the incumbent. However, the Kings - long struggling to carve out their niche in a city known for paying more attention to the Dodgers and Lakers - now faced a new worry. A second NHL team in SoCal.

And so it began. A rivalry of sorts. With both teams tied in the standings at 20 points apiece, it was time for the first ever Kings-Ducks game.

Adding concern and worry for even the most die hard Kings fan was the fact that coach Barry Melrose was starting Rick Knickle in goal, not Kelly Hrudey or Robb Stauber (the two guys that carried the team through the '93 playoffs). No, he was going with a guy that was playing for the San Diego Gulls the season prior. If you've never heard of Knickle or the Gulls, that tells you all you need to know.

Things only got worse when at the 10:13 mark of the first period the Mighty Ducks scored their first ever goal against the Kings. Peter Douris - who? - scored a power play goal to put the Ducks up 1-0. What it the world was going on?

How they were even on the power play is a mathematical marvel. Certainly it was a penalty filled period - one that resulted in the Mighty Ducks being short handed seven different times. On one of those power plays Luc Robitaille was able to score, tying up the game. It was at that precise moment you could hear the entire building exhale...briefly.

The second period wasn't nearly as exciting. The Kings were dominating the shot clock 33-10 after 40 minutes, but the game remained tied 1-1. Fans throughout the Fabulous Forum were on pins and needles as they headed to the concession stands and underground bathrooms for the second intermission.

Then Jari Kurri took over. He scored two goals in the first half of the third period, providing the Kings a little breathing room. His second came at 10:16. While the Kings were now up 3-1, that was a lot of time on the clock to kill.

Duck fans watching at home - they wouldn't dare go to the Forum back then, they weren't as obnoxious as they are now - probably thought there was plenty of time left for a Mighty comeback. Eventually, their confidence would increase. With just a few minutes left on the clock Robitaille went to the box for charging. Ducks coach Ron Wilson capitalized on the situation by pulling goalie Guy Hebert to give his team a two man advantage.

Shaun Van Allen scored for the Ducks and the hearts of 16,005 Kings fans in attendance nearly stopped pumping. We had a serious problem on our hands.

Wilson kept Hebert on the bench and the Ducks continued to pepper Knickle. Tick, tick, tick - time seemed to move so slowly. The final 82 seconds finally elapsed and the Kings had won the game 3-2.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. On that night the Kings let it be known, this was their town. "We had to win, let's be honest." said Kings captain Wayne Gretzky.

Well to be honest, the Ducks would eventually wrestle away bragging rights in the rivalry - making their own run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007 (note: in a cost cutting move the NHL canceled the Finals, thus no winner was ever crowned that me, what you think happened didn't happen...believe's just your mind playing tricks on you).

Further truth - the rivalry has never really lived up to the hype. Sure, many of the games through the years have had some heat. Yet, the old adage is that a rivalry isn't really a rivalry until two teams meet in the playoffs. Unfortunately, it hasn't happened.

That said, let's be clear about something...tonight's game is the most meaningful Kings-Ducks game since that initial contest. The Kings have been slowly ascending the ranks of the Western Conference this season and are currently riding a seven game winning streak. The Ducks have also been playing better of late, climbing back into the playoff race themselves.

The Kings won the first meeting of the season 4-3 in Anaheim. They also won the rematch a few weeks ago in LA, a dominant 4-0 victory.

While the Ducks might need this game more for the standings in the West, the Kings need this more for their psyche. They need to show themselves and their fans that this is THEIR town!

The next time a Kings-Ducks game will mean this much is when the teams meet in the playoffs someday.

Until then, tonight's the night. Time for the dominance to begin.

The Mayor

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Guys and Dolls - the hockey edition

Avery. In many circles that's a name synonymous with office supplies. In the hockey world though, it's those five letters that might just represent the most controversial word you can speak.

People from coast to coast - and on both sides of the U.S./Canadian border - have strong opinions whenever his name his mentioned.

Sean Avery. Just saying his name is enough to get the blood pressure rising for some.

Yet, the truth is, he's a complex person to try and explain - let alone understand.

His time in LA was filled with things like him doing push-ups after scoring a goal, standing up for his teammates when others wouldn't, being called a cancer in the locker room, drawing unnecessary and untimely penalties - just to name a few. Yet, his former coach Andy Murray recently said "Sure, he's a real character. But he's become a pretty darn good hockey player for the Rangers." And guys like Luc Robitaille refer to him as "my little puppy."

He was so unpredictable, some fans began asking 'What Would Avery Do?' next. The Kings ultimately answered the question by trading him to the Rangers in February 2007. He was packing his bags for the Big Apple. The perfect stage for a media whore like Avery.

While in New York he was such a pest in the playoffs versus New Jersey one year - pushing the limits of what's within the confines of the rule book -the NHL issued an 'update' (with what is now referred to as the "Avery rule").

A big money contract in Dallas took some of the league by surprise. Grumblings from within the team seemed to begin almost before the ink was dry on the deal. Sure enough, a few sloppy seconds later he was run out of town. Banished. Nearly for good.

He went to the minors - doing his time after doing the crime. Then, breaking the myth of 'you can never go back home', he returned to the one place he seems to be the most comfortable...with the New York Rangers.

Off the ice his life isn't filled with any less drama. He's been romantically linked with Elisha Cuthbert (now with Dion Phaneuf of the Leafs), Rachel Hunter (later with Jarret Stoll), Mary-Kate Olsen, Lake Bell (from TV's Boston Legal), Hilary Rhoda (formerly with Jets QB Mark Sanchez) and 51 year old Kelly Klein (ex-wife of fashion designer Calvin Klein).

Such exploits have even led to the rumor that he's the subject of pop superstar Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around" song. Couldn't tell 'ya, never heard it.

However, to truly try and understand this strange, sometimes divisive, sometimes exciting, part-time fashionista, part-time hockey player of a man you MUST watch this video:

He likes to play with dolls and purses?


Regardless of your opinion on Avery, tonight will be another be a battle for the Kings when they take on his New York Rangers.

After wrestling with Bears and slaying Devils over the weekend, now the real circus comes to town.

The puck drops at 7:30. Enjoy!

The Mayor

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Mash-up

Attention everybody. Can I have your attention please? Will you pick up your belongings and politely take two steps to the left. Bunch together now. We need everybody to pack it in a little tighter. More people are jumping on the bandwagon and we need you to help make room for them.

Like you, I'm still riding the high of the fantastic road trip. A three-two win on Sunday, a five-and-o road trip, six wins in a row, six games until the break, fifth place in the's enough to get you whipped up into a frenzy.

Here are a few things to chew on this afternoon:

* Tweet #1 - about five minutes before game time yesterday I posted the following on my Twitter account:
STAT CHECK - Devils record when leading after 1st: 17-0-0, after 2nd: 24-0-0...tough task ahead (stating the obvious)...good luck
Reverse the curse rules must have been in effect.

* Tweet #2 - shortly after noon on Sunday I posted the following on my Twitter account, regarding a comment from a fellow Kings blogger:
Sunday sermon from @Connie_Kim: Doughty is the greatest man who ever lived. Him or Jesus, not sure. But 2bfair Jesus didn't have a great slap shot
Prophetic! Less than 30 seconds left in the game, he shoots...he scores...Kings win!

* Tweet #3 - on Saturday I offered up this:
1st person 2 DM me gets free Dean shirt to wear at RT @lakingshockey #LAKings 5k Run/Walk for the American Heart Assoc
Since everybody isn't on Twitter - and why not, what are you waiting for? - we'll give one away here too...if you want to wear one of our In Dean We Trust shirts in the 5K, post a comment below - we might have a free one for you.

* Manchester Monday - With Lombardi and staff in the house on Friday, Bernier pitches a shutout...just another day at the office, as he earns AHL player of the week honors.

* Prospect Profile - takes a look at Corey Elkins, who currently leads Manchester with 16 goals and 35 points. The Kings messed up his marriage proposal.

* Home Cooking - With a 1-2 weekend the Ontario Reign are now 3-3 after hosting the All Star Game two weeks ago. They're going to need put more wins together to make the playoffs. Fortunately, they play nine of their eleven February games at home.

* More Boston hockey - specifically, more college hockey...this time it's the Beanpot. The annual Boston tourney gets underway today and Yahoo's Puck Daddy takes a look at things in an article here. Plenty of 2010 NHL draftees will be playing. Watch it on NESN (DirecTV channel 628).

See you tomorrow!

The Mayor