Saturday, January 1, 2011

Kings - Sharks Preview w/ SJ Captain Joe Thornton

Whenever the Kings and Sharks meet the game is usually filled with multiple subplots to the two points at stake.

Tonight finds the season series tied at one game each, with both teams looking dominant in their victory. There's the battle for the Pacific Division, something the Sharks have owned the last few years and the Kings are trying to wrestle away this season. Of course, there's also the Dean Lombardi angle - with the Sharks being his former team.

However, let's not forget Marco Sturm vs. Joe Thornton. On the surface it may not seem like a fair fight right now, considering Sturm's recent knee injuries. Yet, when two players are traded for each other a sort of natural rivalry builds as each wants to prove he was the more valuable piece in the deal.

Although Thornton has posted big numbers the last few years, the Kings have been able to contain him just about better than any other team in the Pacific Division. He has more penalty minutes against LA, his lowest plus minus (still a plus-8, but it is his lowest) and his second worst point totals.

Even better, the Kings have kept him off the scoreboard the last two seasons at Staples Center (zero goals, five assists in six games).

His Sharks will possibly arrive in downtown tonight a little road weary too. They played back-to-back games in Minnesota and Chicago (losing to the Wild and beating the Blackhawks by identical scores of 5-3), then arrived in LA past 2am on Friday morning.

Here's how Jumbo Joe sizes up tonight's match-up...

POLL: Player of the Month (December)

It's not often that a goalie has a shot at a hat trick. This is one of those rare feats.

The readers of MayorsManor voted Jonathan Quick the Player of the Month for October. He captured 51% of the votes, more than double the next closest competitor, Justin Williams at 21%.

Quick retained his crown for the month of November, garnering 52% of the votes and again beating Williams.

This month, his stats place him back in contention. However, he has several worthy challengers. Here are the leading candidates for Kings Player of the Month...

(in alphabetical order)

Dustin Brown - 19 points (7g, 12a), seven multi point games and was plus-14

Jack Johnson - 11 points (3g, 8a) and was plus-6

Anze Kopitar - 20 points (7g, 13a), seven multi point games and was plus-14

Jonathan Quick - record of 7-3-1, three shutouts and .918 save percentage

Justin Williams - 10 points (6g, 4a) and was plus-5

Who gets your vote?

Poll closes Monday at 10am PST.

The Mayor


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.


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.


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 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


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...