Saturday, December 3, 2011

Habs def Kings 2-1 - comments from Montreal locker room

The Montreal Canadiens came into Saturday's game with six straight wins over the LA Kings, dating back to March 2004.

Make it seven.

After coming out of the gate firing, including outshooting the Habs 14-5 in the first period, LA put it on cruise control. Montreal ended the game tied in shots 27-27. More importantly, they picked up a 2-1 win.

Here's what they were saying after the game...

Coach Jacques Martin on the overall game - "I thought we had a good effort. I thought the last two games we’ve played extremely well. In San Jose we only came out with just one point, but I felt we could have had a better fate. It wasn’t a lack of work. It thought that we executed pretty good today against another top team; a big team that’s physical. I thought we used our speed and quickness to our advantage…I think the last two games I liked our third periods… I thought our power play was good. We scored one goal but we also created some good scoring chances."

Forward Brian Gionta on the overall game - "They [the Kings] had a lot of shots on the power play in the first period. So it’s [shots on goal in first period] was a little deceiving, but for sure we got better as the game went on, and in the second and third I thought we overtook the play… It’s [the win] big. Obviously the last six games or so we’ve been struggling a bit so today here was a pretty good effort for us."

Simon Gagne on LA's loss to Montreal - 'We kind of shut down'

With the injury to Mike Richards, Kings coach Terry Murray was forced to mix up his lines. Simon Gagne found himself on the top line, reunited with Anze Kopitar.

On Saturday afternoon, Gagne had four shots on goal in over 21 minutes of total ice time.

After LA lost 2-1 to the Habs, here's what he had to say...

On the overall game - "Today was a tight game and you are hoping that you find a way to score and you just shoot the puck at the net. I thought we had a good first 20 minutes. We had a lot of pucks on net, a lot of shots. After that, the second period I thought was not very good from our side; we took a lot of penalties and gave them a chance to go on the power play. From that point on we found ourselves down 2-0. We got a goal late in the second and after that, in the third, we kind of shut down. They played really well defensively and for us we were okay the last 20 [minutes] but it was not enough to win or tie the game."

On playing with Kopitar and Dustin Brown - "It was our first time together--me, Kopi [Anze Kopitar], and Brownie [Dustin Brown]. I know Brownie likes to go to the net so you try to create some chances and you try to go out there and get some pucks at the net and make some plays. I thought we had a couple good looks but you have to do it for 60 minutes."

Coach Terry Murray agreed with part of Gagne's assessment, adding this during his post game presser - "I thought we backed off in the second period. I didn’t think the intensity was quite the same as what it was in the first period. Then you get into the third [period] and it’s a 2-1 game. You’re trying to get things turned around but end up with six or seven shots in the period only. We left it too late and on top of that you take a bad penalty. When you’re on a power play in the third it’s a formula for losing games."

More post game quotes: comments from coach Murray on Dustin Penner are up now (link)...and Jarret Stoll talks about the missed penalty late in the third period here.

The Mayor

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LA Kings coach Murray and Jarret Stoll talk missed penalty

Montreal at LA, final score 2-1.

Late in the game, Jarret Stoll had his stick snapped in half from a slash by one of the Canadiens. Although Stoll was screaming for a penalty, none was called. After the game, here's what they were saying...

Coach Murray - “That was not the game. There were a lot of opportunities in the first period with the power play that we had, the 5-on-3. Those are missed opportunities. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t score on it. We just didn’t get enough traffic at the net. [Carey] Price saw a lot of those pucks. We need to be more diligent in front of the net to get screens on the goalie.”

Stoll - "Tough to not get that call. Both of those referees are good guys, they're good refs. They just missed that one...There are some calls out there that can go either way. We had some power plays too, we had our chances. Early on, we had some power plays that we didn't capitalize on. It's just with blatant calls like that [the missed one], I don't care if it's the first period, third period or if it's 10-0, those are penalties and it's disappointing they missed it. But, that's not the reason we lost the game. You're not going to win a lot of games when you score one goal."

Read Murray's comments on Penner here.

More to come soon.

The Mayor

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LA v MTL: Coach Murray's presser - comments on Dustin Penner

Dustin Penner returned to the Kings line-up today had the only goal for LA in a 2-1 loss to Montreal.

Dustin coach Terry Murray's post game presser he had the following to say about the play of #25 today...

"I liked Dustin Penner today. He played well," said Murray. "He dug in, he was skating in a real athletic position, his knees were bent, he was carrying the puck with authority, he was strong around the net, he scores a goal. I liked the way he played for the first time in three weeks. He just needs to build on it."

If the NHL doesn't assign the goal to somebody else tomorrow, that will stand as Penner's first goal of the season.

More from Murray and the Kings locker room coming up quickly.

[UPDATE:  Murray and Stoll on the missed penalty (link)...Simon Gagne on the loss - 'We kind of shut down' (full quotes here)...and comments from the Canadiens locker room - including Carey Price and Brian Gionta (here)]

The Mayor

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Kings send messages to Panthers and coach Murray

One of the key themes in the Kings locker room following last night's 2-1 win was the difficulty they faced after losing two key players through the course of the game - Mike Richards and Willie Mitchell.

Although coach Terry Murray didn't have much information on the extent of their injuries following the game, an update is expected later this morning.

Mitchell left the game after only one shift, with what the team is calling a 'lower body injury.'

Richards was hit hard in the head by the shoulder of Sean Bergenheim (video here). Moments later there was a scrum involving both players, Richards spent time in the penalty box and then didn't return for the third period.

Many of the Kings players were passing out praise after seeing their teammates stick up for each other and continuing to push back - and often leading the way - with the physical play.

As a team, the Kings had 45 hits, compared to 18 for the Panthers.

Kyle Clifford had six hits and Matt Greene had four blocked shots (as well as five hits).

During coach Murray's post game presser, he also pointed out a different pair of players...

VIDEO: Mike Richards hit by Bergenheim, no suspension

The NHL has announced there will not be any suspension or fine for the hit Florida's Sean Bergenheim put on LA center Mike Richards late in the second period of last night's game.

It's been ruled a full body hit.

Judge for yourself...

More notes and quotes coming soon, including an update on the extent of Richards' injuries.  He did not play in the third period, held out for precautionary reasons.

Here was the overall reaction from the Florida locker room last night.

The Mayor 

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LA wins 2-1, postgame quotes from Panthers locker room

Despite out-shooting the Kings 42-26, which was also the most shots LA has given up to any opponent this season, the Panthers lost 2-1 on Thursday night...and it was the seventh straight time the Kings have downed the Panthers, dating all the way back to November 5, 2003.

Although the two teams rarely play each other, it was an extremely physical game, especially after Mike Richards was roughed up by Sean Bergenheim late in the second period (something we'll get into with quotes from the Kings locker room later - video available here though). LA ended up out-hitting Florida 45-18 in the game.

Afterwards, here's what they were saying in the Panthers dressing room...

Coach Kevin Dineen on the overall game - "We thoroughly outplayed them. They were trying to run around and chase us and hack us and slash us. When you are getting outplayed as badly as they were that’s the response. We walk out of here feeling very good about the way we played and we move forward from there."

Dineen on the goaltending - "(It) was a strong point at both ends of the ice. There was plenty of opportunities and their goalie [Jonathan Quick] certainly got them a couple of points and Theo [goalie Jose Theodore] gave us every chance to win."

Dineen on the physicality - "We didn’t need to get physical. All they were trying to do was crosscheck and they let a lot of things go late in the game. When you are outplaying a team by a wide margin you stick with what was working for you and they had a real tough time handling our speed."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Panthers at Kings pregame primer - with Mike Richards

When the Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings last played each other it certainly featured an exciting finish. Tied 2-2 with less than three minutes remaining in the third period, Anze Kopitar scored to put LA on top and they went on to win the game 3-2.

That was only Kopitar's fourth career game vs. Florida, largely because they're an Eastern Conference team - so the Kings don't see them very often.

Mike Richards, on the other hand, has faced them 23 times and picked up 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in the process.

"They're always a good team," said Richards, who has scored nine goals in the the last 10 games for LA. "I know they were extremely well coached the last couple of years with Pete DeBeor there [since replaced by Kevin Dineen, more on that earlier today]. It was usually a tough place to play too, going down to Florida. But, they've made a lot of changes. They have a lot of skill in their line-up now - including Kris Versteeg scoring well, I played with him. They have skill and they ruffle things up a bit too. They're playing well right now and we have to play well too."

Additional notes:

Kings coach Murray ready to take on former Flyers student

Bill and Kevin Dineen (photo: Flyers Archives)
Ah yes, more Kings-Flyers connections. It seems like there's a new one every week or so and tonight brings yet another one.

After practice yesterday, coach Terry Murray didn't have much to offer when asked about the Florida Panthers revamped roster this season - preferring to wait until after he watched some more game tape later in the day.

However, there was one aspect he didn't need to be brought up to speed on.

"I know they have a new coach in place and he coached in Portland, Maine (AHL)," said Murray, referring to Kevin Dineen. "I know Kevin real well. He played for me in Philadelphia."

Asked if he saw Dineen as a future coach back during his playing days, Murray said, "There's a few guys that I've had as players (who) I really didn't anticipate would be in the coaching side of it. But, it doesn't surprise me. Kevin's family is in the coaching side, his dad was a longtime coach [Bill Dineen, including coaching the Flyers], Peter's been in there [Kevin's brother, who also played 11 games for the Kings in 1986-87] and Gord's been in there [Kevin's other brother]. So, it doesn't surprise me that he's followed in those footsteps."

Murray continued by offering up an assessment of Dineen's performance in the AHL the last few seasons - "He did a good job in Portland. That's where I go in the summertime and there's always good things said about the team that played there. He's brought some good players along for Buffalo (including three straight AHL Rookies of the Year) and they were always near the top of the standings at the end of the season. So, he's done a a good job."

Master vs. Student, the bench battle begins at 7:30 pm PST.

For more of today's Panthers-Kings pregame material, check out the links below.

The Mayor


Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver on his days in LA and playing with Dustin Brown

Trevor Lewis responds to being benched and comments by coach Murray

Interview with Panthers forward Marco Sturm

Kings' Rob Scuderi recalls his NHL debut vs. the Florida Panthers

Interview with Nick Bjugstad - Florida Panthers first round draft pick

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Trevor Lewis responds to benching, Murray's comments

Lewis - LA vs Anaheim (photo: M. Zampelli)
Things can change fairly quickly in the NHL, just ask Kings forward Trevor Lewis.

He came into camp riding the high of a strong second half and playoff performance - where he was one of the team's top penalty killers and was starting to find his offensive touch. Lewis went on to play in 19 of the Kings' first 20 games this season.

Then, after zero goals and just one assist, coach Terry Murray sat him out of the line-up nearly two weeks ago and he hasn't been back since - with tonight being the fifth straight game he's a healthy scratch.

After practice yesterday, I asked both men about the situation.

Murray on what it will take for Lewis to get back into the lineup - "Play a little more grittier. That’s the meeting that we had. I’m not talking out of school here. We've had that meeting and that’s the kind of game that I want to see him start to add to his game - his dot-to-boards (play). He needs to be bigger, he needs to be stronger, he needs to come up with more pucks and just dig in on that checking part of the game. He’s very good when it comes to penalty killing. He was (in) our first pair out there last year - in the second half of the year (he) did a great job. He’s a player who can grab the puck when it gets a little hot in your own end and he can settle things just by moving his feet and getting it out of danger, carrying the puck himself because of his quickness and speed. So, there’s nothing that I don’t like about his game. I just want him to add to his game."

Was that a new message delivered to Lewis in the meeting or was it something they've talked with him about before?

Milestone Moment - Rob Scuderi's first NHL game

For Rob Scuderi, February 12, 2004 may not have been where his hockey story began, yet it did mark 'day one' of his officially becoming an NHL defenseman.

Playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins at the time, his team traveled to Florida for a game with the Florida Panthers...

"Well, unfortunately, we lost (5-1)," said Scuderi, when asked what his memories were of that game. "I thought I played pretty well for (my) first game. Sometimes, for your first game, not to be completely selfish, you have more of an awareness of how you're doing yourself. You still want to win the game, that's the most important thing though. I remember playing pretty well and having a good debut. The whole rest of the call-up went that way and probably started my NHL career."

The call-up he refers to was his 13-game stint in the NHL that season. Interestingly, in his final game before being sent back to the AHL, Scuderi scored his first NHL goal - in Madison Square Garden. Not bad for a native New Yorker, who says he grew up hating the Rangers.

Due to the NHL lockout the following season, Scuderi didn't make it back to the NHL until October 2005.

Now, looking ahead to the game tonight versus Florida...

"Just like most games, we're worried more about we do," said Scuderi. "We think that if we do the things that make us successful, it doesn't matter who we're playing. So, if we can do those things - which is moving the puck north, keeping it simple - we like our chances against anybody."

The Mayor 


Brad Richardson isn't a fan of Scuderi's wardrobe

Dustin Brown throws Scuderi into the mix with Penner vs Greene

What I've learned so far this season... by Penguins defenseman Kris Letang

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Former King Mike Weaver talks time in LA, Dustin Brown

Mike Weaver was originally signed as a free agent by Los Angeles in July 2004 and he spent the following year in Manchester (AHL), while the NHL went through a season-long lockout.

That team won 51 games, was led by brand new Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau and featured such names as Dustin Brown, Mike Cammalleri, Tim Gleason, George Parros and Dave Steckel.

Boudreau was fired at the end of that season, after the Monarchs lost in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth straight year. The following season he won the AHL Championship in Hershey. But, that's a different story for a different day. Back to Weaver...

He played 92 games for the Kings from 2005 to 2007. Fast forwarding a few years, he's now with the Panthers, after signing a free contract in Florida this past August. Following practice yesterday, I spoke with him about his time here...

"It was fun. I enjoyed the weather and enjoyed the city," said the 33-year old defenseman. "But, I'm happy where I am right now, in Florida. Through the wintertime we have the same weather as LA, just the summertime is a little bit more humid. Overall, with every city I go to - and hopefully Florida is my last one - you have your fond memories of each place. You have your positives and negatives with each organization. I think that, overall, LA was a great experience. I enjoyed it."

When asked if he had any favorite memories of playing with Brown back then, the 5-foot-10 native of Ontario, Canada said - "Talking about his heavy hits the next day, after a game," then paused for a few chuckles. "He's a good guy. He's a great leader and he deserves being the captain. I think he's done well for himself. He plays the game hard and he plays it with heart."

A few hours earlier I had asked Brown the same question about Weaver...

"He was a solid player when I played with him," said the Kings' captain. "Small guy with really long arms. So, he's pretty deceiving as a defenseman."

As noted in an article earlier this morning, Weaver won't be the only Panther having a bit of homecoming tonight. Marco Sturm makes his return to Staples Center as well. You can read his thoughts on the experience here.

The Mayor


Interview with Nick Bjugstad - Florida Panthers first round draft pick

Interview with Panthers forward Marco Sturm

Kings' Rob Scuderi recalls his NHL debut vs. the Florida Panthers

Marco Sturm happy to move on from the lows of LA

Sturm in LA, January 2011 (photo: C. Ikiri)
When you've played over 900 games in the NHL, a 17-game stint with a team isn't exactly something that's going to stick out in your mind. Still, returning to LA tonight with the Florida Panthers to face his former team - and we use that term rather loosely here - stirs up a few emotions for Marco Sturm.

"It was definitely really short," he said, when asked if he ever even felt like a King. "It feels a little different (coming back here)."

That didn't stop him from having a huge smile when he greeted a few of the Kings training staff with big bear hugs after practice on Wednesday. "I love seeing some of the guys," shared Sturm. "Especially the trainers, they've been so good to me. That was definitely something I was looking forward to."

During his two month stay in LA, he spent plenty of time with them, as he was attempting to return to the ice after missing nearly a year of action following major knee surgery.

"The high was that I came back again from an injury. It probably wasn't the way I wanted, but I was playing the game again. I think that was probably the only positive I had," said Sturm when he reflected back on what's been a tough year. "I actually felt better and better towards the end of the season in Washington. There were a lot of lows, especially here (in LA) and leaving here - probably one of my lowest points and it was tough."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mike Richards might hold firm rather than change

Drew Doughty hasn't hidden what his plans are for tonight. They've been set for several weeks now.

The same can't be said for his former defensive partner though. In an an interview posted on MayorsManor yesterday, Willie Mitchell talked about possibly keeping his Movmeber facial hair a little longer, saying a few teammates have complimented him on it - even though he looks like a combination of somebody from the Village People and/or a dark haired Hulk Hogan.

Meanwhile, Doughty is probably shaving his 'stache off right this minute.

After practice today, I asked Mike Richards if he's ready to do the same now that November is drawing to a close.

"I'll do it at some point, I don't know when," said the Kings leading goal scorer. "We'll see if I keep it through the night."

So, it might make an appearance at the game tomorrow?

"There's a chance, if I don't get fed up with it between tonight and tomorrow night. Then, I guess it will stay for at least another game," he said while laughing.

Apparently he gave it some more thought later this afternoon too because a few hours ago he thumbed out this tweet - "I know Movember is over tomorrow but thinking about keeping the stache. #superstitious"

If it was the 'stache that was bringing him the good luck, he should definitely keep it. Richards has scored nine goals over the Kings last 10 games.

Putting that aside though, given his admitted bromance with Mitchell, do you think they'll consult each other on the shave-or-don't-shave dilemma? Or will they each decide on their own?

Guess we'll have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

The Mayor 


Mitchell on why he might keep the stache past the end of Movember

Mitchell and Richards and their bromance

Movember pics of the LA Kings - featuring Doughty and Penner

What I've learned so far this season... by Mike Richards

What I've learned so far this season... by Drew Doughty

note: the above images appear courtesy of Mike Zampelli (LetsGoKings) and The Royal Half

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Sponsor Spotlight: Glass Bangers hockey t-shirts

Since the early part of this season, the popular MayorsManor 'First Goal Game' has been sponsored by, where by one random winner of the game night contest receives a free t-shirt of their choice from the Glass Bangers collection.

For those unfamiliar with the Glass Bangers story, it might not be too unfamiliar to something you and a few of your friends would have done.

Based, in Seattle, WA, the company is run by a several "Joes" and “Josephines,” just a few buddies who love the game of hockey. They often try to focus on the funny side of the sport - with shirts featuring sayings like 'Fighting Solves Everything,' 'I love hockey moms,' and 'My hockey mom will beat up your soccer mom.'

Their stated goal is to offer up clever and funny hockey t-shirts that any fan, player, coach or goon can wear. When your favorite jersey is being washed, they've got just the shirt to keep you covered.

In addition to their comedy collection, be sure to check out their old WHA t-shirts - including the Indianapolis Racers (Wayne Gretzky's team before the Oilers), the LA Sharks (yes, LA had them before San Jose) and the New York Raiders (one of the founding members of the WHA, who used to share MSG with the Rangers).

Xbox is hurting Dustin Penner, Richards might be helping

Penner remains out for Kings (photo: D. Sheehan)
On second thought... Dustin Penner will not be in the Kings line-up tomorrow night versus Florida. After indicating as such earlier in the week, coach Terry Murray said he's 'not quite' ready yet. He also assured the small group gathered to speak with him after practice today that Penner didn't have any sort of a setback, describing him as 'getting closer.'

About an hour later, Penner was the last player off the ice at practice and we had a chance to catch up on a few things...

MM: So, (Trevor) Lewis tells me that (Mike) Richards likes to eat candy. I remember last year you saying you were trying to get off the Sour Patch Kids. Has that been a problem this year, with him sitting next to you?

DP: No, he shares and we have an understanding - 'What's yours is mine.' So, we've strengthened our friendship through Sour Patch Kids.

MM: You might be able to bully him into sharing, given the size difference. But, what about the guy to your right [Kevin Westgarth]?

DP: Westy usually just mostly grunts. We don't talk unless I'm grunting with him.

MM: Is it intimidating at all, having to sit next to a Princeton grad?

DP: No, I went to Maine.

MM: Oh, that's the same level now?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Is it the end of the line for Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell?

Mitchell last week at practice (photo: D. Sheehan)
Earlier this season, Willie Mitchell came on MayorsManor and talked about enjoying his time in LA and shared that he wouldn't mind signing an extension with the Kings before his contract expires next summer.

His time with the team has been filled with a mix of humor - like his admitted crush on Mike Richards - minor injuries, honest admissions of the challenges he faced last year and...well, plenty of long-winded answers and stories for his teammates.

All of that said, last night may have been the end for Mitchell - at least as far as playing a game with facial hair that is.  When November draws to a close tomorrow, most guys will be shaving off  the mustaches they've been growing this month in honor of Movember.

"I don't know," said Mitchell, when asked if he would be keeping his Fu Manchu / Hulk Hogan-esque face decor.  "Surprisingly enough, I've had a few remarks where they say 'Mitchie, it looks good on you. You should roll with it. It suits your face.' So, some of the fellas on the team want me to keep it."

Quick to seize the moment, Mitchell went on to not only talk about it being for a good cause, but offered up a marketing idea for some dairy farmers.

POLL: What's the right roster move for the LA Kings?

As reported yesterday, Dustin Penner is set to return to the Kings line-up this Thursday. In order for that to happen though, the team needs to make a roster move to create a slot for him.

If you were the Kings GM, which of the following moves would you make?

To answer the question properly, first assume a few things... Penner isn't getting traded and/or waived, Bobby Ryan isn't moving across town to Staples Center and all other trades are temporarily off the table. Thus, one of the options below is what 'you' and your Kings management team are trying to reach consensus on.

For those unfamiliar with the finer points of the decision, some players can be sent to Manchester without a problem (i.e. usually younger players, with fewer games played in the NHL - like Andrei Loktionov). Others, usually more experienced players, would first have to be placed on 'waivers,' allowing another NHL team to claim them - which would also free up cap space for the Kings. If the waived player isn't taken by any other team, he can then be assigned to Manchester.

Weighing all options, which one is the right move?

Poll closes at noon on Tuesday or when the final decision is announced by the team.

The Mayor 


Trevor Lewis talks about being on the outside looking in - ans shares a tidbit on Mike Richards

Coach Murray and Ethan Moreau on his recent penalties

And Now You're Caught Up - the quick roundup of all the Kings news over Thanksgiving weekend

Clifford getting help from Stoll, now he's ready to roll

Evaluating coach Murray's new line combinations - includes quotes from Loktionov

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Quotes from Sharks locker room after 2-0 loss to LA

Late last night we heard from the Kings and Sharks' head coaches (linked here), as well as comments from LA's locker room (link).

Now, we go across the aisle to see what some of the Sharks players were saying after their 2-0 loss to the Kings.

Sharks captain Joe Thornton on the overall game - "Good third period, bad first two. We just have got to somehow score to make it a game and we didn’t…You knew they were going to play well at home here. I’m disappointed at the way we came out, but I’m sure we’ll get a couple good days of practice and get back at it on Thursday."

Thornton on Kings' goalie Jonathan Quick - "He played good. He’s a good goaltender, he’s a league goaltender. We had our chance but we just didn’t finish. He played well."

Sharks' defenseman Dan Boyle on the overall game - "The first two periods there was not a lot of emotion. We didn’t really work to get our chances. Five-on-five we had nothing for the first two periods. Not working hard enough to win the game. There are 82 games. You have got to find a way to get up for every game. Some nights are tougher than others, but at the end of the day you have to find a way. As a team you have got to get up for it. There’s no reason why. These guys are in our division."

More Kings vs Sharks related articles can be found below.

The Mayor


MayorsManor interview with Sharks captain Joe Thornton

Kings vs Sharks preview with Marty McSorley - talks this year's rivalry

Interview with Rob Blake - we cover it all

Interview with Kelly Hrudey - includes then-Sharks GM Dean Lombardi recruiting him

MayorsManor podcast and interview with Tony Granato

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Kings def Sharks 2-0 - comments from the coaches

The Kings and Sharks are now tied in their six-game season series. San Jose picked up game one on home ice 4-2, just a few weeks ago. Tonight, LA won 2-0 at Staples Center.

When things were all done and the final buzzer had sounded, each coach held a post game presser...

Terry Murray on the overall game - "We had a good feel here tonight, there was good energy and emotion in the game and it got exciting at the end…there was a real good response to the game from Chicago the other night, we needed to come out fast, we needed to come out with energy and set the tone, and I thought we did. There was a good carryover into the second period. I thought Quick did a tremendous job…that should have been a nice extra boost of energy to start the third period."

Murray on the two late second period penalty kills - "That was a critical moment there for sure, that’s the part of the game they wait on is the power play, they’re very good at it, they’ve got a group of guys that’s been together for 10 years and they know how to move the puck around, we have to be good in those situations, you kill the penalties the best you can with your forwards, when it comes down to it your goaltender has to be good against the power play, and he was."

Kings win 2-0 - post game quotes from LA locker room

We can delve into the specific numbers tomorrow - but it sure seems like when the Kings take more than 30 shots on goal, the win.  Tonight they put 33 shots on Sharks' goalie Antti Niemi and skated off the ice at Staples Center with a 2-0 win.

After the game, Jonathan Quick and Ethan Moreau shared a few thoughts...

Quick on his 200th game in the NHL - "I didn’t even know it was my 200th game until Greenie [Matt Greene] let me know about five minutes before the game started. They go quickly and tonight was a big win. Everybody battled hard; it was a hard-fought game. They battled to on their side and this is a huge two points."

Quick on LA's penalty kill - "We had a little bit of a stretch there were we weren’t happy with the PK. We had a string of five or six games where we let up a goal in each. It’s something that we’ve been great at the past couple of years and it’s something that we’ve really been putting a big focus on in these past few games because of that little stretch we went through. I feel like everybody’s mentality that they are going into the PK with is great."

And Now You're Caught Up - the 11/28/2011 edition

We know you've been busy the last few days - with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Super Saturday, Slow Down Sunday and then Cyber Monday today.

It's a lot for anyone. Don't worry though, we've got you covered.

Knowing that you'll want to catch up on all the key news, notes and quotes surrounding the LA Kings before they return to action tonight, we've put together a little cheat sheet for you.

Here are the 10 things you'll want to plug into before the puck drops at 7:30...

- Evaluating coach Terry Murray's new line combinations, the top three lines will have a new look vs. San Jose (link), plus Willie Mitchell talks about Jack Johnson, Slava Voynov, Drew Doughty and the Kings' new defensive pairings (link).

- Is Dustin Penner planning a heel turn? (link)

- NHRA's 7x top fuel champion Tony Schumacher drops by to talk hockey (link).

- On Thanksgiving, several LA Kings players shared which teammate they're most thankful for this year - includes Drew Doughty, Jarret Stoll and others (link), plus a guest author rated the top referees  currently in the NHL and explained why you should care who they are (link).

- Jack Johnson explains his hit on Mike Ribeiro (link) and coach Terry Murray weighs in on the situation too, saying there's a time and a place for those sort of things (link).

LA Kings Kevin Westgarth recalls many of his key firsts

Chalk one up for the good guys.

With just over five minutes gone by in the second period of last Wednesday's game vs. Dallas, Kevin Westgarth picked up his first National Hockey League goal. And as the saying goes, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Sadly, the Kings ended up losing the game - in what Westgarth called 'a pretty unfortunate, crappy ending' - which dampened the evening. Even though that took some of the buzz out of the milestone and his teammates weren't necessarily in the mood to celebrate afterwards, it's a moment that wasn't lost on the big, tough forward.

"That one will be going back home," said Westgarth when asked where the puck is. "I'll probably give it to my parents. They seem to take care of that stuff pretty well. They have a few jerseys and it will be another puck to add to the collection. Each level you move up and you keep that puck. So, it's a nice one."

It took 73 games to get that first one in the NHL.  What about those other firsts though? Westgarth recalled how a few of them went down...

His first ever goal - "I was five years old. It was in the championship game of our house league. It was the only goal I scored all year. So, like Gretzky, I had one goal my first year in hockey. In my mind, it was a swooping down the wing, dipsy-doodle and around two guys. I don't think it was quite that pretty in real life. My parents tell me it wasn't, so that just ruined my dream."

Trevor Lewis on being on the outside looking in for LA

Trevor Lewis, LA Kings (photo: D. Sheehan)
Top-six players dominate the headlines most days and yesterday was no exception. When Kings coach Terry Murray scrambled the forwards at practice, much of the early attention was placed on the big names - Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll, Andrei Loktionov, etc. - that were on the move.

Yet, what about some of the other guys? Even with four completely re-built lines, center Trevor Lewis still found himself on the outside looking in.  He and Brad Richardson will remain the two 'extra' forwards for now.

"No one likes sitting out," said Lewis. "But, I don't think I've been playing as best as I can. I have to take this time while I'm out right now, just refocus and get myself back to where I know I can play and where I know I can help the team out."

Lewis, who hasn't dressed for the Kings' last three games, also isn't quite sure what's missing - other than he's not in that same groove he was in the second half of last season.

"That's what I need to get back to," he surmised. "I think I need to just quit thinking about maybe scoring goals or whatever and just get back to the game that got me here. That's getting on the forechecks, getting pucks stopped, creating havoc on their 'D' and just being harder on the puck all over the place."

Like most players in a slump, he's sought advice from a few of his peers, namely Brown (who sits next to him in the dressing room) and his roommate on the road, Mike Richards.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Evaluating coach Terry Murray's new line combinations

All the talk about coach Terry Murray's re-shuffling of the lines today reminded me of a conversation I had with Andrei Loktionov last Monday.

It was the team's first practice since their loss to Detroit two days prior and I had asked him about being moved back to center during the third period of that game...

"I feel more comfortable there," he immediately said. "When I played center, I took more shots. I think I had three shots. So, it's a little bit more comfortable for me."

He also shared a few thoughts on playing with Mike Richards - "It's good. He's a good player. When he has the puck he gives it to you, then he moves around. I love playing with him."

Well, he can 'love' it all he wants. But, the fact remains Loktionov's numbers haven't been what the Kings are looking for (just two assists in six games since his recall). Hence the changes today.

Which then reminded me of something else Loktionov had told me after he showed up in town a few weeks ago. Back in Manchester, he had been playing with Brandon Kozun and Jordan Nolan.

So, now, let's revisit the line combinations suggested here on MayorsManor recently and compare then to what Murray did earlier today.

Clifford getting help from Stoll, starting to roll

Kyle Clifford of LA Kings (photo: M. Zampelli)
Hoping his blender worked more like a magic eight-ball, LA Kings coach Terry Murray decided to shake things up at practice today, seeking answers for the team's lack of offense.

With perhaps the most wide-spread line changes he's made over the last few years, Trent Hunter went to the top line, the cord was cut between Dustin Brown and Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll was moved to wing and Andrei Loktionov returned to his natural center position.

Assuming Murray sticks with the changes for tomorrow night's game vs. San Jose, what does all of this mean for Kyle Clifford?  Well, he stayed right where he was, as LA's third line left wing. However, he'll now have Loktionov as his center and Justin Williams on the far side.

It will be interesting to see how Clifford's game responds. While his three points in 23 games doesn't seem to be too far off his pace of 14 points in 76 games a year ago, he hasn't had the same overall impact.

Clifford posted three goals in the final 15 games and added three more goals in six playoff games.

MM: With the many different line combinations and partners for you so far this season, do you feel as comfortable in the line-up as you did last year?

KFC: I think I got off to a slow start. But, I think my game is starting to come around. Playing with Stollie (for the last few weeks), as a veteran guy, he's been taking me under his wing and trying to help me out during the games. I'm comfortable playing with whoever though. From a personal standpoint, yes, it was a slow start to the season and now things are starting to roll again.

MM: What type of advice has Stoll been giving you?

Kings coach Murray looking for some 'greasy, ugly' goals

Goals for a hockey team, like life itself, can have an uncontrollable ebb and flow. For much of the season, the Kings have been looking for the elusive 'secondary scoring' to kick in.

Wednesday night in Dallas, Kevin Westgarth scored his first-ever NHL goal and the Kings lost in overtime. Last night, Jarret Stoll netted just his second goal of the year (first in 18 games too) and the Kings lost 2-1 to the Blackhawks.

As could be expected, goal scoring was a popular topic inside the Kings locker room after the game, as well as at coach Terry Murray's postgame presser...

Murray on the overall game - "Holding them at two goals is good. They are the leading scoring team in the conference. We had lots of good looks here tonight. We ended up tying the game at 1-1. Then they won a faceoff to make it 2-1. After that, we had four or five tremendous looks and we are just having a tough time finding the back of the net right now. There’s not a better look that you could hope for in a couple of those situations, but it’s just not going in."

More from Murray - "Extra passes are not a good thing for us right now. We want to get pucks to the net. We have to score some greasy, ugly goals, as they say, and that might be the crack in the door and we can kick it open and start to feel more comfortable scoring goals."

Anze Kopitar on the overall game - "We had our share of chances but we couldn’t bear down. A couple of times the puck was just laying around there and we couldn’t quite get it in there. It’s tough but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves."

Quotes from Blackhawks locker room after def. Kings 2-1

With Chicago's 2-1 win last night, that pushes their streak to seven straight over Los Angeles and 10-0-1 in the last 11 games vs. the Kings.

Following the game, here's what was being said in the Blackhawks locker room...

Head coach Joel Quenneville on the overall game - "I think that the game that got us back on track was against San Jose, losing 1-0. We talked about being consistent with that kind of an effort and playing that type of style and game and we got rewarded the next two nights. It was a very competitive game tonight. Crawford made some big saves on a few bouncing pucks and we found a way to get through."

Quenneville on scoring - "Scoring first certainly helped. I thought we had a good start to the game and they had some stretches there where they scored and we got a response to it later. I thought we responded to a poor start yesterday and getting the win is important."

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews on the overall game - "It was probably in some ways our best game of the trip. We knew it was going to be a tight one. When you come on the road and you play a team like that, they use the home crowd and play with energy at home. We were smart, we didn’t have many chances against and they had some good penalty kills and chances on the power play. I think all around we played a good game. It’s fun to win those tight ones, especially at the end of this road trip."