Ask an exec

On Monday, I’ll be putting in a call to Jeff Solomon, who handles the Kings’ contract negotiations and salary-cap issues. Feel free to post or e-mail any questions you might have for him and I’ll get answers, but please remember that it’s hard for guys like Jeff to answer questions about specific negotiations if those negotiations are still taking place. I’ll be talking to Jeff about Teddy Purcell, the kid the Kings just signed out of Maine, because, as a reader just pointed out below, Purcell seems to be a late bloomer who attracted a lot of attention. I know Scott Parse remains a topic of interest and there have been a couple questions about Brady Murray. Beyond that, feel free to offer any questions. I’ll post the transcript of the call sometime Monday night.

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USA 6, Austria 2

Team USA opened the World Championships with an easy victory over Austria. Jack Johnson — wearing the No. 3 he sported at the University of Michigan — had one of Team USA’s 47 shots on goal. Johnson had no goals, assists or penalties and it’s not possible to tell, from the box score, how many minutes he played. USA plays Belarus on Sunday. Michael Cammalleri and Team Canada play tomorrow.

As a reminder, Manchester will try to end its first-round AHL series against Worcester tonight. The Monarchs lead the series 3-1 and play at home tonight.

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Minors/juniors update

Manchester failed in its bid to sweep Worcester and will try to close out the series in Game 5 on Friday in Manchester. In Game 4, Worcester’s Tom Walsh scored his second goal of the game 12 minutes into the third period to break a tie and give the Sharks a 3-2 victory. Jason LaBarbera made 34 saves and Matt Moulson and Patrick O’Sullivan scored for the Monarchs.

In the QMJHL, Lewiston has advanced to the championship series after a sweep of Rouyn-Noranda. In the other semifinal, Cape Breton leads Val-d’Or three games to one. Lewiston won Game 4 by a final of 4-3. Jonathan Bernier had 27 saves and Marc-Andre Cliche had one goal and one assist.

Once again, the IIHF World Championships begin tomorrow. Team USA (with Jack Johnson) plays Sweden at 8:15 a.m. Pacific Time. For those interested, it seems that you can pay $4.95 to watch all of the tournament games via webcast at I’ve never tried the site, so I can’t say how reliable it is, but it’s an option. Canada (with Michael Cammalleri) plays Saturday.

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Prospects report

Sorry folks, I know it’s been a few days between updates here but I’ve been here in Phoenix covering the Lakers since Saturday night so life is a bit hectic. But for those who haven’t found the info elsewhere, here’s a bit of a recap of how some of the Kings’ prospects are faring.

Manchester is up 3-0 in its first-round AHL series against Worcester and can wrap up the series Wednesday. In Game 3 on Saturday, Jason LaBarbera stopped 26 shots in a 5-0 victory. Brian Boyle scored his first goal, and the Monarchs also got goals from Noah Clarke, Marty Murray, Patrick O’Sullivan and Matt Ryan.

Here (link) is a story from on Boyle.

Lewiston is up 2-0 in its quarterfinal QMJHL series against Rouyn-Noranda. Game 3 is today. In Game 2 on Saturday, Lewiston won 7-4. Jonathan Bernier stopped 26 of 30 shots and Marc-Andre Cliche had one assist.

Starting Friday, we’ll be able to keep track of Michael Cammalleri (Canada) and Jack Johnson (USA) in the IIHF World Championships in Russia.

In addition, Anze Kopitar led Slovenia to a first-place finish in its pool at the Division I World Championships. Slovenia finished 5-0, scored 29 goals and allowed five. That means Slovenia will move up to the IIHF World Championships (the big show) next year.

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Monarchs win

John Zeiler scored with 48 seconds left in the second overtime and Manchester beat Worcester 4-3 to a take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series. Jason LaBarbera, in his first game back after a knee injury, made up for lost time as he saved 44 of 47 shots in 99 minutes, 12 seconds on the ice. The Monarchs also got goals from Tim Jackman, Patrick O’Sullivan and Matt Ryan. Oleg Tverdovsky had three assists, including one on the game winner. Game 3 is Saturday night in Worcester.

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AHL/prospects update

As I type this, Manchester is in overtime, tied 3-3 with Worcester in Game 2 of the first-round AHL series. Jason LaBarbera is back in goal for the Monarchs.

Things are a bit hairy these days, as I’ve been drafted to cover the Lakers during the playoffs, but I got a very helpful e-mail today from reader Darren, who has tracked down the playoff progress of several Kings prospects. Thought you all would appreciate the update he provided:

For Lewiston in the QMJHL, through two rounds:

Marc-Andre Cliche: three goals and nine assists in eight games.
Jonathan Bernier: 8-1 record, 2.42 goals-against average, .917 save percentage

In the OHL, London is playing Plymouth in the second round.

David Meckler (2006 draft, fifth round): 14 goals and six assists in 12 games for London.
Ryan McGinnis (2005 draft, sixth round): Four assists and 33 penalty minutes in 10 games for Plymouth.

Thanks, Darren…in addition, Lewiston opened the QMJHL semifinalsFriday with a 4-1 victory over Rouyn-Noranda. Cliche had two assists and Bernier stopped 16 of 17 shots.

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Manchester wins

Manchester won Game 1 over Worcester, 5-2. Oleg Tverdovsky had one goal and two assists (yes, really) and Peter Harrold, Petr Kanko, Marty Murray and John Zeiler had goals. Jeff Likens had two assists and Barry Brust stopped 27 of 29 shots. It was a messy game, with a combined 16 minor penalties. Game 2 is Friday in Manchester.

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Monarchs underway

At the moment, Manchester leads 3-1 late in the first period behind goals by Peter Harrold, Oleg Tverdovsky and John Zeiler. To tie up a couple loose ends, Brian Boyle is indeed in the lineup tonight and Barry Brust is in goal, so Jason LaBarbera’s knee is still an issue. As a side note, the game is being officiated by Jamie Koharski, son of NHL ref Don Koharski.

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AHL playoffs

The American Hockey League playoffs get underway Wednesday, with the Manchester Monarchs playing in one of the three Wednesday games. Sixteen teams make the AHL playoffs and they’re seeded in four divisional brackets. Manchester, which finished with the most points in the Atlantic Divison, will play fourth-seeded Worcester in the best-of-seven series. The Monarchs finished with the second-most points in the AHL this season, behind the defending champion Hershey Bears.

Here’s a look at the playoffs, with the teams’ affiliations added:

No. 1 Manchester (Kings) vs. No. 4 Worcester (Sharks)
No. 2 Hartford (Rangers) vs. No. 3 Providence (Bruins)

No. 1 Hershey (Capitals) vs. No. 4 Albany (Hurricanes, Avalanche)
No. 2 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Penguins) vs. No. 3 Norfolk (Blackhawks)

No. 1 Manitoba (Canucks) vs. No. 4 Grand Rapids (Red Wings, Oilers)
No. 2 Rochester (Sabres, Panthers) vs. No. 3 Hamilton (Canadiens, Oilers)

No. 1 Omaha (Flames) vs. No. 4 Iowa (Stars, Oilers)
No. 2 Chicago (Thrashers) vs. No. 3 Milwaukee (Predators, Oilers)

Manchester will be trying to win a first-round series for the first time in its six-season history. For those wondering, Brian Boyle has been playing center for the Monarchs, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude him from playing defense next season, wherever he plays. You can bet Boyle will get a long look at the prospects camp.

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