Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kings-Islanders Preview with Billy Jaffe

If you're thinking 'Hmm, Billy Jaffre - that name sounds familiar,' it's probably because you're seen or heard him on the NHL Network. He's all over the place there these days, including serving as a regular co-host on NHL Live in the mornings and being featured during On The Fly in the evenings.

He also won a New York Emmy for Outstanding Sports Analyst while serving as the New York Islanders color man, a post he recently left after four seasons.

With the Islanders in town tonight to take on the Kings, he was gracious enough to help us with a game preview...

MM:  The Islanders came out of the gate playing well, picking up points in six of their first seven games.  Now, they enter tonight riding a nine game losing streak.  What happened?

BJ:  Right now they're trying to continue to find an identity.  Early on in the season they had - well, minus Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo their two big guys - everybody was healthy and everybody was excited.  They were more familiar with (coach) Scott Gordon's system too.  Then, they lost another guy to injury in Andrew MacDonald - who was playing OK, but he's an important piece to the puzzle because he plays 20+ minutes a night.  He's a real solid, stay at home defenseman who is out of the line-up for a few more weeks.  Next thing you know they got some questionable goaltending and all of the sudden they lost that momentum.  They've had a hard time getting out of it.  They're a team that quite honestly is still in transition.  I know fans on the island are getting frustrated hearing that, it's getting old.  But, they haven't developed enough of a stable of top tier players like the Kings have done.

Westgarth - Cheerleading For The Wolfpack

Although patience is a virtue, there's little worse than waiting.

When it comes to Kevin Westgarth, things have gotten to the point that he just smiles and laughs when he sees me coming. Of course he already knows what we're going to talk about.

He knows the drill. He knows the routine. So, we're just having fun with it at this point.

Here are some post practice comments...

MM: So, how tough was it watching the Dallas game when things starting getting physical?

It was pretty tough.  By the same token, it's great to see that everybody in the line-up is willing to do whatever it takes to back each other up.  It's definitely a focus of ours, to have that wolf pack mentality.  You can see it from top to bottom.  We've joked how Justin Williams has a fight and I don't.  The perfect expression of this team is that anybody is willing to go and anybody is willing to back each other up.  That being said, I know which side my bread is buttered on.  My hands still get a little itchy sometimes.  I'm definitely looking and asking.  I'm kinda talking to the guys about what more I can do to mix it up and make guys want to fight me.  There is an adjustment.  I think it was a lot easier to find fights in the A (AHL) sometimes because a lot of teams had meatheads who didn't play a whole lot and were just there to fight.  You don't really see that as much here.  Even the guys that may be in my weight division, they often don't feel too inclined to mix it up against me I guess.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Colonel's new 10-Piece Bucket

Adding a 'Y' or 'IE' to the end of a player's name doesn't make it a nickname. That's just more like shorthand.

Occasionally, you get the 'ER' on the end. That's still not a nickname.

And for all the Deans and Dans, no - extending the name with an 'O' doesn't count either.

Then, every once in a while, a truly awesome nickname comes along.

Kings prospect-turned-10-game-pro Kyle Clifford has been on MayorsManor several times this year. He updated us from Team Canada's World Junior camp this summer, provided game previews during rookie camp and even stopped by to give his thoughts on staying or going as decision time drew near.

Then, yesterday, it happened. The cat came out of the bag (or in this case, is it the chicken came out of the bucket?).

Mr. Kyle Clifford is actually Kyle Frank Clifford. As in, KFC. So, that's right...his nickname is the The Colonel.

We had to get to the bottom of this previously little known nugget of info...

MM:  Kyle, thanks for holding out on us. What's the story here?

KFC:  We thought it was going to take off a couple of years ago because my initials are KFC, like Kentucky Fried Chicken.  It kinda started in juniors a little bit with the training staff and stuff like that.  It never really went anywhere from there I guess.

What are your thoughts on it?

Maybe it might get me an endorsement deal with KFC one day.

Maybe it was just being kept under wraps until you hit the ten game mark...

Future Fridays - Interview w/ Kevin Gravel

Jack Johnson, Matt Greene and Rob Scuderi. All three are American born. All three are products of U.S. college programs.

At the NHL Draft this past June, where the Kings were expected to go after skilled forwards, they bookended their five picks by taking two more American-born defenseman. The pair were also off to college as well, with first rounder Derek Forbort recently beginning his freshman year at North Dakota and Kevin Gravel (fifth round) starting up at St. Cloud State.

Two weeks ago we checked in with Forbort.  Now it's time to see how college life is treating Gravel.

Before we do though, make sure you get it right.  It's Gravel, as in gra-velle...not like the stuff used to make city streets.

MM:  You grew up in Kingsford, Michigan - so it was probably only natural that you'd get drafted by the Kings...

KG:  It was only natural, right?

Prior to the draft you blogged about your experience at the scouting combine for the USHL website.  You wrote that some of the teams were intimidating to interview with.  Tell us about that...

The most intimidating part was walking into the room and seeing eight or nine guys just stare back at you and firing off questions.  Some teams were down to the point, others were more laid back.  Los Angeles was kinda in between.  They wanted straight answers, for sure.

How about the weird questions?  They come up every year at the combine...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Super Series Game 3 - Notes on Toffoli and Kitsyn

After sweeping the opening two games against the QMJHL earlier this week, Team Russia dropped its first contest versus the OHL all-stars by a score of 4-0 earlier tonight.

This continued the trend of the last seven years. Entering the game, teams from the OHL had beaten the visiting Russians 14 out of 14 times, outscoring them 66-24 in the process.

For those unfamiliar, the Subway Super Series is a annual six-game tournament that takes a team of Russian junior level all stars on a trip throughout Canada, where they play two games each against the QMJHL, OHL and WHL. The event also serves as an evaluation for the roster Canada assembles prior to the World Junior Championships.

In previous years, players with Kings ties to participate in the series include Drew Doughty, Brayden Schenn, Jonathan Bernier, Wayne Simmonds and Thomas Hickey.

This year, they have a total of six prospects playing, led by Russia's Maxim Kitsyn - who led his team with four goals during last year's series and was off to a red hot start again this year.  In Monday's opening game vs. the QMJHL (where he faced fellow prospects Nic Deslauriers and JF Bérubé) he had two goals and an assist.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Super Series Game 2 Preview w/ JF Berube

The Subway Super Series is part international spectacle - highlighted by the play of All-Star teams from the CHL and Russian junior leagues - and part evaluation tournament for Team Canada's World Junior Championship roster.

Game one of the six-game series took place Tuesday night, with Russia winning 5-4. Things will resume later today with the final game against the QMJHL, then things move on to the OHL on Thursday. They'll conclude with a two game series vs. the WHL next week.

As reported previously, a total of six Kings prospects will be competing in this series. Defenseman Nic Deslauriers (drafted in the third round, 2009) and goaltender JF Berube (fourth round, 2009) are part of the Quebec team.  While, forward Maxim Kitsyn (sixth round, 2010) is skating for Russia.

In the opening game Kitsyn had two goals, one assist and finished with a plus-2 rating.  Deslauriers had a goal and was plus-one.

Deslauriers filed a game report with us yesterday.  Now, we're back with comments from Berube, who played the second half of the first game - stopping 14 of the 16 shots he faced.

MM:  Game one was your first experience in the Super Series.  Overall, how did you enjoy it and was it what you thought it would be?

Bernier update and new poll

A few weeks ago Jonathan Bernier tried out a new mask. However, no matter what he tried he wasn't satisfied with the comfort level. He just didn't like it, so he switched back to his original model.

In fact, he's done with the new one altogether. "It's just sitting there and I'm not going to use it anymore," Bernier told MayorsManor. "I've tried different things, like changing the foam inside and it still doesn't fit well. So, I'm keeping my old one." Later he added, "I may be switching to another brand. I'm just waiting for that helmet to be ready." So, stay tuned.

In the meantime, how about some reader response to a poll surrounding this topic. Which goalie mask is the best in Los Angeles Kings history?

If needed, images are avialable at the following links: Rogie Vachon  -  Kelly Hrudey  -  Robb Stauber  -  Jamie Storr  -  Stephane Fiset  -  Felix Potvin  -  Jason LaBarbera  -  Jonathan Quick.

Poll closes Friday at 1pm PST.

The Mayor

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Super Series Game 1 Report w/ Nic Deslauriers

The road to this winter's World Junior Championships continues, as the Subway Super Series is now underway.

For the past seven years Russia has sent over a team of junior level all-stars to play a six-game series against the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). It's a pretty straight forward tournament, with two games each against the QMJHL, OHL and WHL.

Besides the international aspect of the event, it also serves as a key component to Team Canada's evaluation process for their final roster that will be assembled prior to the World Junior Championships in late December.

As reported previously, several Kings prospects will be competing in this series over the next two weeks - including three players in the opening pair of games.  Defenseman Nic Deslauriers (drafted in the third round, 2009) and goaltender JF Berube (fourth round, 2009) are part of the Quebec team.  While, forward Maxim Kitsyn (sixth round, 2010) is skating for Russia.

Overall, the CHL had won 36 of 42 games since it began in 2003, including a clean sweep last fall.  More specifically, entering play yesterday the QMJHL had a record of 9-5 against the visiting Russians.

In game one last night, Team Russia prevailed 5-4.  Their goaltender, Dmitry Shikin, made 36 saves including 16 in the third period.

Deslauriers was kind enough to check in with MayorsManor this morning and filed the following game report...

MayorsManor Podcast - featuring Ian Laperriere

Ian Laperriere is one of the most popular players in Kings history, having played for the team from 1996-2004.

In this interview we cover the trade that brought him to Los Angeles, the highs and lows of his career, playoff memories at Staples Center, contract talks with the, a word association segment that is one for the ages. Truly candid comments from Lappy.

[note: this is a duplicate post due to a problem with the feed to itunes yesterday...sorry for the confusion]

To play the podcast, simply click on the title of this article above (MayorsManor Podcast - featuring Ian Laperriere).

The Mayor

Monday, November 8, 2010

MayorsManor Podcast - featuring Ian Laperriere

Trevor Lewis is wearing #22 this season. Before him were names like Baumgartner, Huddy, Tocchet, Conroy and Halpern. However, for most Kings fans there's only one #22...Ian Laperriere.

And the admiration for Lappy isn't just among the fans.

"Ian, the way he plays, tells it all" said captain Dustin Brown when talking about the four leaders that inspired him earlier in his career. Luc Robitaille specifically called out Laperriere during his Hall of Fame induction speech. So, it really doesn't matter who you're talking with, from coaches to teammates to opponents, everybody has deep respect from what Lappy brings to the game of hockey.

Therefore, when it came time to launch the new MayorsManor podcast, he was the perfect guest. Not only does he have great stories, that French-Canadian accent could only mean one thing - hockey!

He doesn't need much more of an introduction, so let's get right to it.

In this interview we cover the trade that brought him to Los Angeles, the highs and lows of his career, playoff memories at Staples Center, contract talks with the, a word association segment that is one for the ages.  Truly candid comments from Lappy.

update: ALSO AVAILABLE on itunes - click here to start

FOR A LIST OF OTHER MayorsManor PODCASTS - click here

The Mayor


Interview with Rob Blake

Interview with Andy Murray

Interview with Luc Robitaille

Kings vs Flyers Preview with Ian Laperriere