Saturday, April 16, 2011

Who will come up big tonight for the Kings? Players say...

Stars are stars.

Yet, how many times has a no name player or a minimally used role player come up big for a team in the playoffs?

There have been quite a few for the Kings, perhaps none bigger than Gary Shuchuk and Robb Stauber in 1993.

Prior to the Kings leaving for San Jose I spoke with several of the players and asked them who they thought would come up big versus San Jose.

Drew Doughty went with the returning Justin Williams and he sure looked good in game one. Not exactly a 'totally random' choice, but still - he called it.

Alexei Ponikarovsky, who was banging into every Sharks player he could find on Thursday night, wasn't concerned with the name on the back of the jersey. He went with more of an 'all for one, one for all' mantra...

"I think we need everybody," said Ponikarovsky. "We have to play as a team. So, it's going to take everybody to win this series. It doesn't matter who's going to score the big goal. We're going to play as a team and we'll go from there. We're going to work as a team and when we get goals it will have been the whole team that worked for it."

Meanwhile, rookie Kyle Clifford had his sights squarely set on one of the other youngsters making their post-season debuts in this series...

"There are a number of guys in this room that are more than capable of having a breakout series. We're probably going to need some of the younger guys too - like Oscar Moller, Trevor Lewis and Alec Martinez. I think they're more than capable of doing it and throughout the year you've seen glimpses of what type of players they're going to be. So, my choice would be one of those three."

Moller is back in the line-up tonight.  So, perhaps he can make Clifford will look as smart as Doughty did on Thursday.

To read Doughty's full comments about Williams click here.

And to re-live that magical '93 playoff run, check out Shuchuk's interview here.

The Mayor

Kings vs Sharks - Game One Playoff Photos

These pics came to me via Jon at - the Bay Area's longest running hockey blog.  Featured in the photos are Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Kyle Clifford, Jack Johnson, Trevor Lewis, Ryan Smyth, Justin Williams and a few other Los Angeles Kings players...

For complete coverage of the Kings-Sharks series on MayorsManor, click here to begin now with yesterday's High/Low article featuring Jim Fox. It also includes links to exclusive comments from Doughty, Simmonds, Clifford and many other Kings players).

The Mayor

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kings-Sharks Game One: High / Low with Jim Fox

Over the last few seasons Jim Fox has stopped by MayorsManor a number of times to share his highs and lows from select games.

Like last year during the Kings round one playoff series with Vancouver, LA's award winning commentator is back again today for some more post-season analysis.

Here's what he had to say this morning about the Kings 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks last night in San Jose...


* Just three shots on goal in the first period - it happened a few times in the regular season too, not the way you want to start a playoff series

* Defensive zone coverage on the first goal against - a few things broke down, but the biggest issue was leaving the 'home plate' area with the opening right down the middle of the ice

* Repeating one of the themes from game one last season vs. Vancouver - winning the special teams battle, getting as many saves by Jonathan Quick as they did (42) and still losing the game


Manchester Monarchs: Gm1 Notes, Quotes, Schenn Update

Last night the Manchester Monarchs opened their 2011 AHL Playoff run with a 2-1 win over the Binghamton Senators.

They received goals from defenseman David Kolomatis and center Corey Elkins. Justin Azevedo, Jordan Nolan and Viatcheslav Voynov picked up assists. Jordan Weal was a healthy scratch and Tyler Toffoli managed just one shot in the game.

Game two is tonight, again in Manchester.

Prior to the series starting, several Monarchs made there way to MayorsManor - including defenseman Thomas Hickey, forward Bud Holloway and goalie Martin Jones.

Below are a few additional comments from afar. First, former Monarchs defenseman Alec Martinez, then Ontario Reign coach Karl Taylor, followed by an update on when to expect Brayden Schenn in a Monarchs uniform this post-season.

Martinez on staying in touch - "I talk to a few of the guys pretty consistently. I talk to (Jeff) Zatkoff a lot.  He and I were roommates in college and played together growing up. We go way back and have known each other for a long time. So, we chat a lot. Plus, the guys I lived with - like Mullen and Hickey and Kolomatis."

MM: I hear Hickey is quite the prankster. Did he pull any good ones on you?

Kings lose 3-2 in overtime - highlights from SJ video feed

For the Los Angeles Kings, there's nothing to be ashamed of - they just didn't get the win.

A few quick post-game notes:

* Earlier this week coach Terry Murray was asked about the possibility of Drew Doughty's ice time increasing to around 30 minutes per game in the playoffs (article here). With the extra time needed to determine the outcome, Doughty played a team high 30:28. Dan Boyle led the Sharks with 35 minutes even.

* Not only did Justin Williams lead the Kings with two points (a goal and an assist), he produced the most shots also - six.  San Jose was led by Devin Setoguchi with seven shots.

* Dustin Brown was tops on the Kings with seven hits, followed by Alexei Ponikarovsky with six.  Seriously.  The seven were matched by Setoguchi and Doug Murray of the Sharks.
Game two is Saturday night in San Jose.

Until then, here are the video highlights, as collected from the San Jose feed...

The Mayor

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Kings-Sharks 2-2 after 40 minutes, Doughty a Prophet?

A rare mid-game update...

San Jose jumped out to the early lead and were up 1-0 at the first intermission.  The Kings tied it at 7:25 of the second period with a goal from Dustin Brown - set up by a beautiful pass from Justin Williams.

Three minutes later, the Sharks regained the lead 2-1. Then, with less than four minutes remaining in the second period, Williams tied it up again with a sneaky goal, coming in from behind the net.

Before the Kings left LA for NoCal I asked several of the players who they thought would come up big for the team in this series with the Sharks.  Here's what Drew Doughty had to say...

"I think there a lot of guys who are, but with Willie getting back in the line-up here, he's going to be huge. He's going to have that grit. He missed playing in our playoff run there at the end (of the regular season). So, he's really going to want to be back in that line-up. I know that when he hits that ice for the first time in a game, he's going to be flying."

The Mayor

Kings forward Wayne Simmonds - Born for Playoff Hockey?

Wayne Simmonds and Drew Doughty - best friends, roommates, former OHL rivals...the bond is strong, for sure.

They also share a bit of history with Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll. All four played their first game as a member of the Kings together. It was October 2008, at Staples Center, versus San Jose.

Tonight, they'll face off with the teal and black again, as the Kings and Sharks square off in their first ever playoff series.

MM: What do you remember about that first game?

WS: It was kind of nerve racking, obviously. It was my first game in the NHL and I didn't really know what to expect. When you're playing against Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, guys like that, who I've watched my whole life growing up, it's - for me to my to play my first game in that situation, it was huge. But, that's behind me. This is my second playoffs. So, I'm just excited and ready to get started.

MM: What do you see as the Kings biggest strength going into the series?

WS: I think we just need to stick to our structure. We're a structure oriented team. I think if everyone takes care of what they have to do and we believe in each other, we'll succeed.

MM: What's your biggest concern?

Kings-Sharks Preview: Matt Greene Sees Depth vs Skill

When it comes to the Kings biggest strength heading into the series, Jack Johnson and said it's the team's defense, Kyle Clifford went with 'character' and Drew Doughty agreed with Johnson, defense.

Matt Greene finished the regular season with 243 hits - second best on the team for the third straight year. He's also increased his totals each season, since joining the Kings for his first game with the club on October 11, 2008...coincidentally, against the San Jose Sharks.

MM: Heading into the post-season, what do you see as the Kings biggest strength?

MG: Depth. We have four lines we can play and we have six 'D' we can play, we can roll right through. I don't think we need to shorten the bench for anything and we have two goaltenders who are more than capable of playing. So, I think we can stay fresh over the course of a seven-game series.

MM:  What would be your biggest concern?

MG:  With San Jose, obviously, it's just their skill level. I think they have a great team, they have a high scoring team. They have a lot of real skilled players up front and on the back end. We just have to be ready for them. We have to do our best to slow then down and shut them down.

Links to the full comments from Clifford, Doughty and Johnson can be found below.

The Mayor


Drew Doughty on Memories and Concerns

Kyle Clifford on Kings Strengths

Jack Johnson says Best is Yet to Come

Shop for Los Angeles Kings Gear at Shop.NHLcom!

LA vs SJ Preview: Jack Johnson - 'Best is Yet to Come'

Most people would agree the Los Angeles - San Jose playoff series boils down to the Kings defense against the Sharks offense.

Yesterday, coach Terry Murry spoke about what he's seen from the Kings two high profile blueliners this season, Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson.

I posted Doughty's memories and concerns earlier today (available here).

Now, Johnson provides his thoughts on the same questions...

MM: What's the biggest strength the Kings take with them into the series?

JJ: Defense - our team defense, in general. I'll put our goaltender up against anyone. And I think we will play well, defensively, against them. But, everyone plays well defensively in the playoffs. That's just the nature of the playoffs.

MM: What's your biggest concern?

JJ: Scoring goals. The last two games we had were must win games for home ice advantage. They were playoff like games and we were only able to score one goal in each game. So, that's a little bit of a concern and something we're really going to have to take advantage of if we get any opportunities.

MM: Any favorite memories playing against San Jose so far in your career?

JJ: Not really. They were all just regular season games. The most fun I've had in the NHL was the playoffs last year. So, those are the only games that have really stood out to me.

MM: So, the best game against the Sharks is still yet to come?

JJ: Yep, hopefully!

The Mayor

Kings-Sharks Preview: Kyle Clifford - A goal's a goal, right?

Fresh off of being singled out as the Kings Rookie of the Year by coach Terry Murray and captain Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford is just hours away from making his NHL Playoff debut.

In 76 regular season games this year he posted 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) and 141 penalty minutes.

Is he ready to go and what does he think about the series with the Sharks?

Take a look...

MM: How are you feeling right now?

KC:  I feel as ready as ever. This is my first one, first professional playoffs here in the NHL. It's a big stage. You work your whole life for this. When you're a kid, all you think about is the Stanley Cup. So, I'm really looking forward to it.

MM: In your opinion, what's the biggest strength of the Kings team right now?

KC: Our character. We've had our ups and downs all year. When we went through our couple of tough stretches there, we really came together as a group and learned how to deal with that adversity. I believe in this room we have a lot of guys that have a lot of heart for the game.

MM: If you had to pick one concern heading into the series, what would it be?

KC: I'm not too concerned right now. Like most of the guys here, we just want to get out there and play - just do what we do out there.

MM: With the team looking to generate offense any way possible, how important is it for your line to help contribute?

KC: There's nothing wrong with greasy goals. We have some high skilled guys on our team too. The playoffs are going to be tight, winning games 2-1. So, you really have to dig down. When you get your chance, just tap it in. It may not be pretty, but a goal's a goal, right?

More pre-game notes to come throughout the day.

The Mayor


Drew Doughty on the Sharks - His Memories and Concerns

Kings v Sharks Playoff Preview - Who will win and why

Dustin Brown Selects his Kings Rookie of the Year

Coach Terry Murray Selects his Kings Rookie of the Year

Kyle Clifford Explains his Nickname - The Colonel

Shop for Los Angeles Kings Gear at Shop.NHLcom!

Doughty on the Sharks - His Memories and Concerns

Long before Drew Doughty was a Norris Trophy finalist and one of the top defensemen in the league - OK wait, not that long before, more like a year earlier - he made his NHL debut against the Sharks.

Below he gives some thoughts about now playing them in the playoffs for the first time and shares what he likes - and is concerned about - heading into the series with San Jose.

But, first, let's go back in time for a minute...

MM: What do you remember about that October 2008 game?

DD: To be honest, my memories of it aren't the greatest. I remember going out for the third period and we had a power play. I felt I had played well for the first two periods. Obviously, I was a little shy, just because of the speed of the game and stuff like that - I wasn't used to it yet. But, I remember walking out onto the ice for the power play and I told Simmer (Wayne Simmonds) that I had to do something because I felt like I was just out there, not doing much. He said 'Don't do it, man.' I went down and I tried to make a move on the power play, I turned it over and they ended up coming back and scoring. So, that's my memory of my first game, which isn't the best one.

MM: Does he like to remind you that he told you so?

Without Their Top Player, Kings Down Sharks in Game One

It's not the player you're thinking of. And it's a different game one.

On October 16, 1991 the Los Angeles Kings were about to play host to the NHL's newest team, the San Jose Sharks.

Shortly after the morning skate early that day, Wayne Gretzky received a phone call that his father was in the hospital after experiencing complications related to a brain aneurysm.

Then-owner Bruce McNall rushed the Great One home to Canada on a private jet to be by the side of his 53 year old father, Walter.

On the ice, coach Tom Webster had some shuffling to do. Obviously, when you're without your number one center, it wreaks havoc to your entire line-up.

Webster put Tony Granato up front, between Mike Donnelly and Jari Kurri. Luc Robitaille and Dave Taylor now had John McIntyre as their center on the second line. And Bob Kudelski centered a line featuring Tomas Sandstrom and Ilkka Sinisalo at wing.

Kings goalie Kelly Hrudey gave up five goals to Sharks named Perry Anderson, Link Gaetz, Brian Lawton and Brian Mullen (2).

But, those were the good ol' Smythe Division days when goals game in bunches.

The Kings matched their five with goals from Peter Ahola, Donnelly, Randy Gilhen and a pair from Luc Robitaille. However, the star of the night was that center playing with Sandstrom and Sinisalo...Kudelski scored a hat trick, giving the Kings an 8-5 victory in the first-ever game played between the two teams.

Now, nearly 20 years later, they'll meet later tonight for the first time in the playoffs.

Just like that fateful night in 1991 though, the Kings are again without their top center.

History was made that first night. Can the Kings do it again?

A few other notes to finish off this look back in time...

- Even though there were 13 total goals scored in that first game, Robitaille had the only power play goal of the night. Yes, twelve (!) even strength goals.

- Gretzky returned to the Kings once his father's condition stabilized (and ultimately improved). When the Sharks came back to the Forum on November 23, 1991 for their second game in LA, Gretzky greeted them with a hat trick of his own.

- The following year was one of the craziest Kings-Sharks games ever, when Robitaille, Kurri and Donnelly each picked up a hat trick. Their nine goals were part of an 11-4 win for the Kings, the most LA has ever scored against San Jose. It's also the only time in Kings history three LA players have had hat tricks in the same game.

The Mayor   


Kings v Sharks Playoff Preview - Who will win and why

Interview with Luc Robitaille

Interview with Tony Granato

Interview with Kelly Hrudey

Interview with Sharks Captain Joe Thornton

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blades Eliminated - What's next for Brayden Schenn?

When Anze Kopitar went down with an injury a few weeks ago, Kings fans everywhere went into full blown doom and gloom mode.

Over the last few days though, the news just keeps getting better for the Kings. First came word that Scott Parse is near returning. Earlier today, Justin Williams proclaimed himself ready to go and he'll be in the line-up tomorrow night when the Kings open the playoffs vs. the San Jose Sharks.

Now comes the most unlikely of news - Brayden Schenn's junior team, the Saskatoon Blades...the team with the best regular season record in the Western Hockey League...have been eliminated from the WHL Playoffs, swept by the Kootenay Ice 4-0.

What's next?

First off, keep in mind that Schenn has played games tonight and last night.  So, he won't be in San Jose for game one between the Kings and Sharks.  Youngster or not, he doesn't need to be playing for the third night in a row.

However, should the Kings even call him up to the NHL for the remainder of the playoffs? If so, after he plays his second game, they'll burn a full year off of his entry level contract (he played eight games earlier this season, at ten the contract kicks in). Is it worth it?

Should he go to Manchester (AHL) instead?

If you were GM Dean Lombardi, what would you do?

[update 4/14/11 10:55am: poll closed, Kings expected to announce Schenn to Manchester soon]

The Mayor


The Complete Story on Brayden Schenn

Interview with Hockey's #1 Prospect - Brayden Schenn

Official - Brayden Schenn Traded by His Junior Team

Did Doughty and Johnson Improve This Season?

For the Kings to have a significant chance of beating the San Jose Sharks in the opening round of the playoffs they'll most likely need to rely heavily on their goaltending and defensemen.

Four of the six blueliners were with the team for last year's post-season appearance against the Vancouver Canucks. Willie Mitchell - a veteran of 45 NHL playoff games - and rookie Alec Martinez now round out the group.

Yet, nearly all of the attention will be on the Kings' pair of high-profile defensemen, Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson.  Both had strong years last season for the Kings and represented their countries at the Winter Olympics.

But, what about this season? Doughty's goals (16 to 11), assists (43 to 29) and point totals (59 to 40) all slipped from a year ago - when he was nominated for the Norris Trophy.   And Johnson saw his point total slightly increase (36 to 43) by adding more assists. However, he hasn't scored a goal since February 2 in Edmonton.

Have they improved from a year ago?  Here's what coach Terry Murray had to say...

How are the Kings preparing for Sharks?

They say that spouses often take on the personality of their partner and animals begin to mimic their owners over time.

So, it's no surprise that the Kings, as a team, are somewhat a microcosm of their head coach.

Terry Murray is consistent, yet ever changing (see his lines).

Thus, so are the Kings - evolving, yet stationary.

With round one of the 2011 NHL Playoffs set to begin tomorrow night in San Jose, how are the Kings preparing for the match-up with the Sharks? After all, their six-game season series featured many 'different' games - a 4-0 shutout on the road, two overtime affairs, a blowout, etc.

Today's activities at their practice facility in El Segundo were set to begin with a video review. Murray said, "The clips will be pulled from all of the games we've played against them this year. Mind you, they'll be selective in what I'm going to show."

He went on to explain that he liked the "attitude" in the December 27th game (when the Kings won 4-0 in San Jose). However, the message couldn't be as simple as 'just do what you did in that game.'

So, overall, how does preparation change for the playoffs compared to the regular season?

"Not a lot of change. I'm a big believer that you stay consistent in your day-to-day routine," said Murray. "You come to the rink and here's what you're doing, we did it all year long - get on the ice and go through the same kinds of drills. You select your drills that are more appropriate to that team. But, the routine as an athlete is really important. There are a lot of guys who are superstitious. I know I was when I was a player and I like to be consistent on that part of it."

What about the memory of the last game in San Jose, a 6-1 win for the Sharks?

Dustin Brown Evaluates the Rookies, Crowns Kings ROY

Over the weekend we took a look at the four leading candidates who were vying to become the Kings' Rookie of the Year - Jonathan Bernier, Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis and Alec Martinez.

Each gave their thoughts on the other three candidates and then selected the player they felt was most deserving of the honor. Lewis and Clifford both received one vote and the other two claimed it was a three-way tie.

On the same subject, coach Terry Murray was very complimentary of Bernier, especially his play in the second half. Yet, ultimately, he went with Clifford as his pick.

Now, let's talk to the team captain, Dustin Brown. First he sizes up the play of all four rookies before choosing his winner...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How tough will the Kings line-up be vs. San Jose Sharks?

Kevin Westgarth, the Kings resident heavyweight this season, played in the final seven regular season games - where the Kings went 3-4.

One of those loses was to the Sharks on April 4th.

For the season, Westgarth suited up in four of the six games between the two teams and LA was 1-3 in those games. When he was a healthy scratch the Kings were 2-0 versus San Jose.

Now, the Kings performance in those games can't be simplified down to the fact that (more often than not) they won with him on the sidelines and lost with him in there.  After all, he had an 'even' plus-minus rating (going E, +1, E, -1).  And in the game they won he had 13 shifts, totalling 7:30 of ice time - his second highest of the season series.

However, his stats for the post-season is at least worthy of a question to coach Terry Murray, especially considering the there's a high probably of Justin Williams returning to the line-up.

So, after practice today I asked Murray if he has Westgarth penciled in to play the entire series...

"No, probably not," said Murray.  "He might play in the early part of the series and as you move into the deeper part of it, then you need to take a look at the line-up. And that is probably when minutes will diminish for that role."

For better or worse, by comparison, Ratias Ivanans played in just one of the Kings six post-season games versus Vancouver last season, getting 5:48 of ice time in the first game against the Canucks.

That came after he had played in 61 regular season games for the Kings last season, six more than Westgarth's 56 this year.

This will be just one of the many games-within-the games to be played out over the next two weeks.

NoCal, SoCal...and Westie.

The Mayor

Shop for Los Angeles Kings Gear at Shop.NHLcom!

Murray - not much 'special' in playoff match-up w/ Sharks

When it comes to special teams in the upcoming series with San Jose, the Kings fourth-ranked penalty kill (85.5% success rate for the season) will be tested by the Sharks second-ranked power play (23.5% conversion rate for the season).

When you go the other way, both the Kings and Sharks units ranked in the bottom third of the league. LA scored 16.1% of the time they were on the power play (ranked 21st) and SJ shut teams down 79.6% of the time (ranked 24th).

How important will any of this be come playoff time on Thursday?

Here's what coach Terry Murray had to say after practice today...

"I think there will be a lot of five-on-five play. I don't think we're going to get into too many special team (situations), in my opinion. Just based on the way the season finished off in the last month or so, it was 'let the teams decide' the outcome."

He noted there were even a few games down the stretch where the Kings didn't really have any time on the power play and then added...

"I think that's the way it will go. Obviously, if a game gets out of hand, they'll watch things very closely and then there will be three or four or five power plays at the end just to keep everything under control - which is normal and the right thing."

More notes and quotes later this afternoon.

[update - to read Murray's thoughts on playing Kevin Westgarth click here]

The Mayor

Kings v Sharks by the Numbers, Plus a Prediction

Every year it's the same thing, once April rolls around you start to wonder 'Where has the time gone?' It seems like just yesterday training camp was opening and roster questions were starting to sort themselves out.

Funny thing, with the Kings set to start their first round playoff series against the Sharks this Thursday, it looks like once again the LA roster is starting to take a different shape than just a week ago.

To the surprise of many, it appears right wing Justin Williams will be available to play in game one. And to the shock of just about everybody, left wing Scott Parse could follow soon thereafter.

What does all of this mean and how do the two teams match-up in other areas?

That's what we look at below - the teams head-to-head. It doesn't matter how many points the Sharks generated this year or how many shutouts one goalie had over the other. What happened in the 82-game regular season doesn't mean much at this point, with one exception. Well, actually, six exceptions - and those are the six times the two teams met.

Here's a high-level overview of the key in-game areas of play and a prediction for how this series will end...

Offense - No doubt the Kings will miss Anze Kopitar. However, as noted a few days ago, he didn't have one goal against the Sharks in five games this season. Dustin Brown led all players with four goals, while the Sharks had three players tie for their team-lead with three goals each (Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi) in the LA-SJ regular season series. San Jose scored 18 compared to the Kings 13 non-shootout goals. Yet, the season was split 3-3 and most notably, five of the six games were either tied or separated by just one goal after two periods. The Kings best game was a 4-0 shutout in San Jose at the end of December. The Sharks best game was a 6-1 drubbing just a few weeks ago. The three games played between those two were all one-goal games. All said, the offense tends to favor the Sharks.  Oh yeah, one more thing, Scott Parse had one goal this season in five games played. Who was that against? Yes, the Sharks. Just Saying.

LA Kings Prospect Report - 2011 Playoffs, Round 2 Updates

While the Kings get ready for their opening round showdown with the San Jose Sharks later this week, their junior prospects are already two games into the second round of the CHL playoffs.

Below is a brief overview of how each of LA's top prospects have fared so far, plus a look ahead to the Manchester Monarchs (AHL) post-season plans...

Western Hockey League (WHL)

Brayden Schenn - The team that was tops amongst all WHL clubs this season enters tonight down 0-2 to the Kootenay Ice, who will now host games three and four. Schenn produced ten points in six first round games, posting five goals and five assists. Kootenay's ability to limit him to just one point in the first two games of this series has been a major story line so far. Can the Ice possibly sweep the Saskatoon Blades right out of the playoffs? It sure would make for an interesting conversation about Schenn's immediate future.

Linden Vey - He leads all WHL players with nine goals and 18 points in the playoffs. Exactly what you'd expect from the 2010-11 WHL Scoring Champion.  Vey was also just named the WHL Player of the Week, rightfully so. His Medicine Hat Tigers crushed the Red Deer Rebels in the first two games of this series by scores of 9-1 and 5-0. Vey had a pair of goals in each game. The series moves back to Medicine Hat for games three (today) and four (tomorrow).

[update, Tuesday 4/12/11:  Vey has been announved as the CHL Player of the Week too, so not just the WHL - but, now all of Canadian junior hockey]

Ontario Hockey League (OHL)

Monday, April 11, 2011

RIP Tanner - Forever a King

You'll now enjoy the best seat in the house for every game. Godspeed.

If you aren't familiar with Tanner's story, read this article - For Love of the Game and Your Kids

Five Questions with Monarchs Goalie Martin Jones

Yesterday afternoon the Manchester Monarchs wrapped up their regular season schedule with a 3-2 loss to the Providence Bruins.

More significantly, Kings uber prospect, Tyler Toffoli, made his professional debut and scored the first goal for his team. He arrived with high expectations after being the top goal scorer in the OHL this season, netting 57 goals.

Jeff Zatkoff took the loss in goal.

On Friday night, the Monarchs beat the Adirondack Phantoms 4-1 behind the stellar play of goaltender Martin Jones.

As they begin their AHL Playoff run this year with a first round series versus the Binghamton Senators this Thursday, the coaching staff has a tough choice - Zatkoff or Jones?

In brief, the season began with Zatkoff as the starter. Jones outplayed him in the middle part of the season and ended up earning a spot in the AHL All-Star Game after going 14-3-0 in his first 20 games with a 1.75 goals-against-average and a .943 save percentage.

Then, Zatkoff came on strong in the second-half, earning the AHL Goaltender of the Month for March with a 5-3-1 record, a 1.55 goals-against-average, a .949 save percentage and two shutouts.

Obviously, having those two guys vying for the spot isn't a bad problem to deal with.

Prior to wrapping up the regular season I had a chance to catch up with Jones for a few light hearted questions...

MM: You debuted a new mask recently (pictures here).  People always want to know, what was the inspiration for the design?

MJ: I'm really not too picky. I used the same guy who painted my first one (this season). He did a great job with the first one, so I just said 'Make me a cool mask.'

MM: That's it, just 'Make me a cool mask?'

Sunday, April 10, 2011

SJ Sharks vs LA Kings - Playoff Tidbits and Schedule

In the coming days MayorsManor will have a plethora of playoff coverage leading up to the first game - notes, interviews, analysis, etc.

To kick things off, here are five tidbits to keep in mind...

* Anze Kopitar - it's the name that will probably come up more often than any other until this series is over...and he's not even going to have one minute of ice time. Interesting point though, Kopitar didn't have a single goal versus the Sharks in five games played against them this season.

* Justin Williams - he wasn't expected back this early, but it looks like he'll be playing vs. the Sharks - which, of course, could be a huge boost for the Kings

* Goaltending - the Kings enter the playoffs this season with a completely different set up in net than what they had last year. Jonathan Quick is the number one goalie. But, but, but...if he struggles at all or if the team needs a different look, Jonathan Bernier is there to jump in. The players and coaching staff has plenty of confidence in him too, especially after he went 4-0-1 in March.