Saturday, November 12, 2011

OHL vs. Russia - a Super Series report from Tyler Toffoli

On Thursday night, game three of the six-game Super Series took place in Ottawa. It's an annual junior hockey showcase, featuring an All Star team from the three CHL junior leagues (WHL, OHL and QMJHL), each playing a pair of games against a Russian squad of similar aged players.

You can also think of it as a tune-up for the World Junior Championship (WJC) and/or a preview for the upcoming NHL Draft. Just don't make the mistake of thinking the games don't count. Russia won the series last November and went on to win gold at the WJC a few months later.

For the third year in a row, Tyler Toffoli - one of the Kings top rated prospects - participated with the OHL group. Going into the game this year though, something interesting happened.

"My trainer in Ottawa was organizing everything and when he received all the jerseys, the 'C' was on mine. He let me know, but I didn't really believe him at first," said Toffoli, always mindful of the many pranks being played within the world of hockey.

"A couple of equipment guys and other people said it was true. Then, after it came out on the OHL website, that's when everybody starting texting me."

As if being named Captain wasn't enough pressure, the game was also being played at his home arena in Ottawa.

NHRA driver Ron Capps with some UFC predictions

This is a big weekend in Southern California, not only are the Kings home tonight for another game, but the NHRA Drag Races are going on in Pomona - where they're wrapping up their season and crowning champions in the pro classes - plus, you have UFC putting on one of the biggest heavyweight fights in a long time down in Anaheim.

Earlier this week, we had Clay Guida on MayorsManor (link here). He's in the UFC's semi-main event tonight, where a lot is at stake as well. The winner between he and Ben Henderson will get a lightweight title shot early next year.

Guida, a Chicago Blackhawks fan, said he was up to the task, despite being an underdog according to odds makers.

The NHRA was represented by driver Courtney Force at Thursday's Kings game and she came on MayorsManor to talk hockey and racing just prior to dropping the ceremonial first puck (link).

In a further convergence of today's big three events, while out at the drags interviewing drivers yesterday, I stumbled into a UFC conversation with funny car pilot Ron Capps.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Courtney Force - she knows all about fast moving sports

If only everybody could just show up for their first hockey game, walk onto the ice following the National Anthem and drop the puck to start things off.

Life doesn't work that way for the average person.

Yet, Courtney Force was lucky to have that experience last night.

And although she's a native of Yorba Linda, she says she's not a Ducks fan.

"My brother-in-law is the biggest hockey fan, he's from Chicago and he plays all the time. I think this is going to be my new thing though. I've been watching it on TV and being around him and my sister, who are always watching it, I'm very intrigued by it."

Just prior to the ceremonial faceoff between the Kings and Canucks, we spent some time together, talking about where she's been and where she's headed. Sure, she's attractive, with her California blond hair and great smile. But, she's also charming far beyond her 23-years.

Even casual sports fans have probably heard of her father, John Force. He's one of the best drag racers of all-time. While it was Don 'the Snake' Prudhomme in the 70s and Kenny Bernstein in the 80s, it's been a sport largely dominated by Force for nearly two decades now, as he rewrote the record books and won 15 NHRA Championships.

As his career is slowly winding towards the finish line (at some point in the coming years), daughter Courtney's is about to begin. She's been testing in a funny car this season and is expected to debut next year. When, exactly, isn't clear though.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quotes from Vancouver locker room after 3-2 win over LA

The Vancouver Canucks defeated the LA Kings 3-2 in front of a sellout crowd at Staples Center.

Here are some quotes from the visiting team locker room following the game...


On the overall game - "Tonight, the way the game unfolded with us getting an early five-minute power play and then following it up with an undisciplined penalty on Ryan Kesler we were able to make them pay. Getting off to a real good start, we had some real good chances and had some real solid chances in the second. Their goalie made some saves and made for an interesting last minute."

On the power play - "For us, our Ds have always been a big part of our attack whether it be 5-on-5 or 5-on-4. The importance of them jumping up in the play and they have an opportunity to get their shot through that’s very important. Tonight our guys played a solid game against a very good hockey team."


Quick - 'You always have to be disciplined no matter what'

Goalie Jonathan Quick stopped 29 of the 32 shots he saw, giving up power play goals to Sami Salo and Andrew Ebbett, plus an even strength goal to Aaron Rome.

Immediately following the game, here's what he had to say...

On the overall game - "You don’t want to get down one goal, two goals, it doesn’t matter. You always want to score the first goal and we were unable to do that tonight. The next 50 minutes we were trying to get out of the hole we dug ourselves in but came up a little short there. I thought we fought hard to get back into the game and we did, we made it a game. We had a couple chances at the end to tie it up. We just have to keep battling the way we did there in those last two periods and things will turn around."

On the penalties - "A couple of those calls a few of us wouldn’t agree with but at the end of the day you always have to be disciplined no matter what. Even if you get a call you don’t think you deserved, it is what it is and you have to fight it off and you have to kill it off."

On the physical part of the game - "It happens. It’s part of the game. It’s a physical game. Guys are trying to get to the net and create stuff in front of the net. It’s going to happen. You just deal with it, that’s it. It’s part of the game and you expect it to happen from time to time and it does."

Comments from coach Terry Murray are on the homepage right now.

The Mayor

Murray explains why some players needed extra rest tonight

More from LA Kings coach Terry Murray's post game presser...

Question - Does it take a while to get the lines back to where you want them after a long kill like that (in the first period)?

Murray - "Oh yeah. I’m using my top guys and that’s hard work. When you get caught out there, especially the way (Vancouver) passes the puck, you just can’t make a change. The goalie can’t stop it and there’s a lot of anaerobic work and that is fatigue. When they do come back to the bench I have to give them some extra time to recover and that does throw a little wrench into everything, but that’s hockey. It takes a little while to get it sorted out so they can get back to normal play again."

For more of Murray's post game comments click here.

To see what Jonathan Quick had to say click here.

More to follow.

The Mayor

LA Kings coach Murray liked the 'intensity and compete'

First round of post game notes.

Here is LA Kings coach Terry Murray on the overall game...

'It's very hard to dig out of a team like that, they're too deep, too good. They were the President's Trophy winner for a reason. We couldn't and that's the bottom line. We tried, we worked and I liked everything we were trying to do - from the penalty kill right through to the five-on-five in the third period. We did a real good job with intensity and compete. I thought we were carrying the play in the third period and trying hard to get back into it. We got close, but it's too hard to turn the tables sometimes."

To see what goalie Jonathan Quick had to say after the game click here.

More to come.

The Mayor

Colin Fraser is pointless against the Vancouver Canucks

Ryan Smyth to Edmonton. It's the trade that just won't go away.

Last week, it was Smyth's return to LA as a member of the Oilers that dominated the headlines. Now, it's the other side of that trade that will be a focal point of tonight's game.

Colin Fraser, the player who was eventually acquired by the Kings - after Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini first tried sending Gilbert Brule, something that was rejected by the NHL - will make his debut in tonight's game vs. Vancouver.

Like Brule, Fraser was injured at the time of the trade and that's an ongoing issue between Kings GM Dean Lombardi and his counterpart with the Oilers. The entire he said-he said issue is a story for another day.  Let's focus on Fraser, who will center the Kings fourth line tonight.

Soon after he was acquired this summer, his former Oilers teammate Dustin Penner came on MayorsManor and had several things to say about the 26-forward - including 'He competes in every area of the ice. He's a third or fourth line center, who's good on draws. He'll do anything to help his team win.'

Los Angeles Kings Prospect Report - November 10, 2011

It's been another busy week for the LA Kings prospects. This time around, we have an almost broken foot, some expanding facial hair, a Russian invasion and much more. Take a look...

Manchester Monarchs

It was another rough weekend for the Monarchs, as they went 1-2 in their back-to-back-to-back games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The lone victory came on Saturday in a 2-1 win, with goalie Martin Jones in net and Brandon Kozun picking up a goal. Sunday's loss came via the shootout, so they still picked up a point.

Then, last night, Linden Vey (last year's WHL scoring champion) picked up his third goal of the season late in the game and gave the Monarchs a win in the rematch with Portland.

Left wing Ray Kaunisto, who sat out a pair of games over the weekend after fearing he broke his foot while blocking a shot on Friday night (no break, just swelling), was back in the line-up last night ans scored his second goal of the season.

Brett Hextall, a Phoenix Coyotes draft pick and son of Kings asst GM Ron Hextall, scored for the Portland Pirates in both games against the Monarchs this week (an interview with him can be found at the bottom of this article).

- Other notes: Goalie Jeff Zatkoff was in goal last night for the win, it was his second victory of the season...Grinder Jordan Nolan continues to play well, he now has seven points in 14 games - he was also suspended for two games this week, due to an elbowing incident on November 4...Andrei Loktionov leads all forwards with 14 points (3goals, 11 assists) and Jake Muzzin is tops among defensemen with eight points (3G, 5A) in 13 games played.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Coach Murray on Kyle Clifford - 'It's just the way it unfolded'

Jarret Stoll and Kyle Clifford had some weird - um, chemistry - last night.

They were both on the ice to start the game and Stoll took an interference penalty 25 seconds in, forcing Clifford to sit and watch while the Kings killed off the Nashville power play.

Coach Terry Murray put the same line out to start the second period and 20 seconds later Stoll was whistled for tripping, again putting Clifford on the bench while the Kings penalty killing unit went to work.

All total, the Kings had five penalties in the first two periods and Clifford was on the ice for three of them. Even being one winger down for most of the game (Scott Parse left injured halfway through the first period), Clifford played less than two and half minutes in the final period.

Was something wrong?

UFC Fighter Clay Guida talks hockey and haircuts

Through the years, we've had a variety of celebrities and athletes on MayorsManor - like Greg Hetson of the band Bad Religion, Hall of Fame pro wrestler Nick Bockwinkel and Dodgers' left fielder Matt Kemp - to talk about a myriad of subjects.

With the UFC in town for a big fight card this Saturday night, we spoke with lightweight title contender Clay Guida after today's presser downtown. And, like usual, the conversation found it's way back to hockey.

MM: Let's start with your mom, she's always cageside when you fight. What's the best or worse advice she gave you growing up?

Guida: 'Don't put your hands on someone unless you have a good reason for it.' She would always tell me, my brother and sister growing up, 'Keep your hands to yourself.' So, it's funny - that's what I do for a living now, I get to put my hands on other men. Competitively! (then he laughed quite a bit)

MM: How did that work out with Jason then, your older brother?

Guida: I was his wrestling dummy my whole life, still am. (more laughter)

Jarret Stoll - LA Kings players were 'fed up' with things

With two assists last night, Jarret Stoll doubled his output for the season...and reached a milestone, his 300th NHL point.

It was a 'team win,' with four different players scoring goals and several guys having breakout performances.

After the game, Stoll shared a few thoughts...

On the overall game - "We played a little bit desperate. We knew we had to stop this before it got out of control. We needed to work hard, be determined, be first on loose pucks, play with an attitude and be a little bit mad out there. I think we were that tonight. You could see on the offensive side of the puck we were jumping, we were first on loose pucks, we were getting pucks back to the net - therefore, they were back on their heals a little bit. That's kind of what we've been doing the last couple of weeks, we've been on our heals. I think tonight we were on our toes, we were jumping and we were getting our feet going."

Alec Martinez probably thinks the Kings did 'a good job'

Alec Martinez was recalled by the Kings on November 24th last season and scored a goal in his NHL season debut. He came into last night having played 13 games this season without a point.

Earlier this season, coach Terry Murray even had him sit out the game in Philadelphia, marking him down as a healthy scratch. Thus, you can understand the huge outburst of excitement he displayed when scoring the first goal of the game last night vs. Nashville.

Afterwards, he spoke about his performance, as well as what the Kings had been dealing with in the prior 48 hours.

On his first goal of the season - "It feels really good to finally get that monkey off my back. It was a good effort by everyone all around tonight and we had contributions from four different guys, which is good. So, we're happy with the win."

On the team meeting yesterday morning with coach Murray - "We definitely got into penalty trouble (on Monday vs. the Sharks) and that added to (our problems), considering San Jose is a great power play team. They feed off that. It was definitely something we came into with a focus today and I thought we did a good job."

Murray concerned about Bernier, but he 'sucked it up'

Jonathan Bernier has played twice as many games against the Nashville Predators as he has versus any other NHL team - including starting all four games between the Kings and Predators last season, posting a 3-1-0 record with a 2.25 goals-against average.

This season, Bernier was off to another slow start, losing the only two games coach Terry Murray had put him in for. But, not anymore.

Bernier picked up his first win of the season last night, giving up three goals - including a power play goal - yet, holding on for a 4-3 victory.

After the game, Murray evaluated his performance...

"I was a little concerned at the start of the game, we had a two-nothing lead and the next thing you know it's (tied) two-two. I would have liked to seen something (from him) on that second shot, the second goal that the scored, on the short side [note: that was the power play goal from Craig Smith]. But, I looked at it again on the replay and it was a heck of a shot. So, I really think he sucked it up after that and he made some big stops as they started to give it a push."

Bernier stopped 27 of the 30 shots he faced and lowered his season total to 3.37 goals against. He'll most likely be back to the sidelines for the next few games - with his probable next start coming in about a week when the Kings play a home-and-home series, on back-to-back nights, versus the Anaheim Ducks.

If you missed Dustin Penner's post-game comments, click here now to read thoughts from the big left wing following his best game as a King.

Also, quotes from the Predators locker room - including thoughts from Smith, coach Barry Trotz and more - can be found here.

The Mayor 

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quotes from the Nashville Predators locker room - 11/8/2011

Following Nashville's 4-3 loss to Los Angeles tonight, here are a few quotes from their head coach Barry Trotz, forward Craig Smith and Patric Hornqvist...


On overall game - “We weren’t disciplined enough, we took some bad penalties. We battled back, but it wasn’t good enough…I give us some credit, we stayed in it…I knew that the start was going to be critical, we talked about it before the game and we got off to a terrible start…We took too many penalties. We took six penalties and you look at the five-on-three they scored just as the guy got out of the box…They’re not a high scoring five-on-five team, we had to stay out of the box, we didn’t."


Dustin Penner talks Fight Club in post game scrum

Dustin Penner followed-up on last night's 'best period as a King' (the first period vs San Jose) with his best game as a King.

On the score sheet he had two assists, was plus-2 and had 14 minutes of ice time. Yet, that wasn't really the story. He just looked good out on the ice - something that hasn't always been the case this season.

With an ear to ear grin, here are some thoughts he shared in the locker room following the game...

On the struggles - "When you're struggling like this, you go through a lot of different (emotions) and question why it's happening. I think for me, it was just to stop worrying about it and just go out there are play."

On how he felt playing his third game in four nights - "I felt great. That's where my conditioning came in. I think if you asked anybody in Edmonton, my third game in four nights would never be very good."

On his first multi-point night as a King - "Feels good. There were probably a few more points out there for me too. But, I like the chances our line is getting now and even on the power play, and for myself, the quality scoring chances. It's up to me to bury them and focus on that, not just getting them."

Nashville Predators at Kings - pregame primer and contest

It's the third game in four night for the Kings and things won't be any easier than they have been recently.

Jonathan Bernier needs his first win of the season. Drew Doughty and Dustin Penner need their first goals. Anze Kopitar needs some help. Terry Murray needs to see a sign of life from his club that extends beyond the random 10-minute stretches he's seen of late. GM Dean Lombardi needs all of the above and more.

Bottom line, LA needs a victory...badly.

Here's a few pregame notes to get you ready for tonight's action...

- Bernier: When a goalie has only played 34 games in the NHL it's hard to talk about his 'best numbers,' but here something stands out. Bernier has played five games vs. the Preds, going 4-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. If you like trends, take note that Bernier has also posted a .98 goals-against on Tuesdays - his only day of the week with a number under 2.00. Three of his four career shutouts have been on...yes, Tuesdays.

Monday, November 7, 2011

LA Kings at San Jose - pregame primer with Marty McSorley

King turned Shark, Marty McSorley
After the LA Kings were defeated by Vancouver in the first round of the 2010 NHL Playoffs, it was a bad feeling that stuck around all summer.

The tension and disappointment was still in the air during training camp a few months later and it was easy to keep the issue on the front burner, considering the two teams would open up the 2010-11 regular season right where they left off - facing each other.

This time around, it's different. For some strange reason, the Kings playoff loss to the Sharks just six months ago seems like another lifetime. After an off-season filled with big moves, resulting in even bigger expectations and a roller coaster ride through the first 13 games, tonight may be more of a clean slate, than two teams 'resuming the rivalry' from last year.

Marty McSorley is a man who knows both teams well. Of course, he was a member of the Kings for the bulk of his career, but also spent two seasons with the Sharks - back when Dean Lombardi was the GM there.

As part of tonight's pregame primer, we spoke with McSorley about the two clubs...

MM: First off, what are you up to these days?

How to fix the Kings - the line combos Murray should use

They call him the juggler.

Kings coach Terry Murray has been known to mix up the line combinations, to the point he recently joked about keeping a line together 'for three or four more games.'

However, one thing that isn't too funny is the Kings lack of scoring this season. Over the summer, they added Mike Richards and Simon Gagne in the hopes of giving more punch to a line-up that ranked 25th in the league last year in goals scored.

After 13 games, they're ranked 28th so far this season, dropping from an average of 2.55 goals per game last year to 2.15 at the moment.

Back in training camp, Dustin Brown said that he and Justin Williams had already talked about the fact that it was only a matter of time until they were flip-flopped as the number one and two right wings.

That time should be now. And, in one man's opinion, this is how Murray should set up the offense...

Line Four - Murray has said that Ethan Moreau is a better left winger, yet he's been playing him on the right side 'because it's the only spot open.' Time to fix that. Moreau should be the fourth line left wing, with Trevor Lewis at center and Kevin Westgarth/Trent Hunter on the right side. Westgarth played great hockey in the playoffs last year and if he can return to that form, he's perfectly capable of being in there most nights. LA is 3-2-1 with him in the line-up this year (just saying). Hunter hasn't shown much, nor would you expect him too coming off major knee surgery. Scott Parse is also an option, but again - he's a natural left wing and you'd be asking him to play the off side. Thus, Westgarth seems like the best option.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What I've learned so far... by Penguins dman Kris Letang

Penguins Kris Letang - sharp dresser
ZZ Top were right. Every girl's crazy about a sharp dressed man.

Just ask center Jarret Stoll.

Most of his Kings' teammates have selected him as 'best dressed' guy in the room - although Brad Richardson disagrees. Regardless of who can lay claim to being the cat with the sharpest threads in LA though, based upon what I saw from the Penguins on Saturday morning, the title in Pittsburgh clearly belongs to Kris Letang.

And now that Scott Hannan has pulled a Metallica-like mistake and gone from long to short, Letang may also have the best hair in hockey.

Quick side note, can somebody please remind me to work up a 'Hannan cut his hair and his stats have never been the same' article when he and the Flames come to town next month, thanks.

Now that that's all behind us, let's see what Letang has learned so far this season. We chatted for a bit yesterday and here's what he had to say...

About Evgeni Malkin - "He's better with his English than he used to be."

About Matt Cooke - "He loves In-N-Out burgers. He's probably already been there twice today."

About Steve Sullivan - "He's old."