Kings-Wild notes, quotes

Wild coach Jacques Lemaire, on the Kings and the suggestion that tonight’s game would be easy: “They really played hard last night, but they came out with more energy than we did. It won’t be easy. It can’t be.”

Kings coach Marc Crawford: “I thought our guys played terrific tonight and we deserved a better fate. But it was a close game. They are used to playing those close games, and they got a nice goal to win it. It was a good play, an honest goal, so you can’t really complain too much.”

Kings goalie Erik Ersberg: “It’s a little bitter when you end up losing the game, but we got one point and I’m happy with my performance,.”

Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom: “You look at this team and how (the Kings) played today, its a really great hockey team, a lot of talent, a lot of skill players. They made it really tough for us. You look at the standings and its hard to believe they are down there.”

– Erik Ersberg made his first NHL start, and became the 10th goalie (corrected!) to start a game for the Kings since Dec. 23, 2006. Dan Cloutier started that game, and was followed by Barry Brust, Mathieu Garon, Yutaka Fukufuji, Sean Burke, Jonathan Bernier, Jason LaBarbera, J.S. Aubin, Jonathan Quick and Ersberg.

– The Kings lost their fifth consecutive road game and are 0-2-2 in their last four overall.

– LW Michael Cammalleri scored a first-period goal. Cammalleri has three goals and six assists in his last five games. Cammalleri also recorded his 200th career point.

The Kings next play on Tuesday, at St. Louis. I’ll attach the Associated Press game story…

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) An unlikely offensive source helped the Minnesota Wild gain an important two points.

Martin Skoula scored with 1:15 left in overtime and Minnesota gained sole possession of the division lead with a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

Marian Gaborik also scored for Minnesota, which moved two points ahead of Calgary atop the Northwest Division, and five points ahead of Colorado and Vancouver, which lost 4-1 in Chicago.

Standing at the right of the crease, Skoula took a pass from Gaborik below the goal line and poked the puck between the pads of Erik Ersberg.

“I was just kind of waiting for the whistle, but nobody blew the whistle. I kept looking and it was in the net,” Skoula said. It was his first goal in 23 games, and third in 145 outings with Minnesota.

The last seven Wild wins have all been by one goal. Minnesota has won 21 games by one goal, tying the New York Islanders for tops in the league.

“This is a good way to learn how to play under pressure a little bit and when there’s a tight game,” Gaborik said. “We need to do a big push, and I think this is going to be a good learning experience for us to go to playoffs.”

Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire thought the game might be easier than usual. Last in the league with 56 points, the Kings lost 5-2 in Colorado 24 hours earlier.

“They really played hard last night, but they came out with more energy than we did,” he said. “It won’t be easy. It can’t be.”

Michael Cammalleri scored for Los Angeles, which lost its fifth straight road game. Ersberg stopped 33 shots in his first career start.

“I thought our guys played terrific tonight and we deserved a better fate. But it was a close game. They are used to playing those close games, and they got a nice goal to win it. It was a good play, an honest goal, so you can’t really complain too much,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said.

Four games into a five-game stretch against teams currently out of the playoff race, Minnesota is 3-1. The Wild lost at Washington Tuesday before winning at Tampa Bay Wednesday and Florida Friday. Minnesota plays Chicago at home Tuesday.

“You look at this team and how (the Kings) played today, its a really great hockey team, a lot of talent, a lot of skill players,” Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom said. “They made it really tough for us. You look at the standings and its hard to believe they are down there.”

Cammalleri put the Kings up 1-0 late in the opening period. He controlled a rebound off the end boards, and from the goal line, put the puck on net. As Backstrom slid back across the crease, the puck deflected off his stick and across the line. It was Cammalleri’s third goal in four games.

In his first career game as team captain, Gaborik deflected a shot from Brent Burns over the left shoulder of Ersberg early in the second period to tie the game.

The assist was Burns’ 34th point, tying him with Lubomir Sekeras (2000-01) for the most points in a season by a Wild defenseman. Burns, who played a team-high 28:37, has played at least 24 minutes in 11 of 14 games, after playing that much 10 times in the team’s first 52 games.

Pavol Demitra hit the post during a Minnesota power play in the third period.

It was one of the few pucks Ersberg didn’t stop. He moved well in the crease, controlled rebounds and was quick with his glove, especially on a first period save to rob Chris Simon from the right circle.

“It’s a little bitter when you end up losing the game, but we got one point and I’m happy with my performance,” Ersberg said.

Notes:@ Minnesota C Mikko Koivu was a late scratch due to the flu. … Cammalleri’s goal was his 200th career point. … Ersberg, who spent the last two years in Sweden, was called up from AHL Manchester Feb. 21. He played 31 minutes of relief Feb. 23 at Chicago before losing in overtime. … LW Alexander Frolov had one assist for the Kings, and now has 18 points in 13 games. … Minnesota D Petteri Nummelin left the game in the second period with a right thigh injury. He is to be further evaluated Monday.

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  • diehrdkingsfan38

    Nice post, good work.

  • chris McDonald

    Make that the 10th goalie to start for the Kings since 12/2006: J.S. Aubin’s name was overlooked in this unbelievable stat. Good job, Erik Ersberg!

  • Joe Dirt

    Why was Sully not playing with Kopitar and Brown in the first 2 periods?

  • Rich Hammond

    Joe…it would seem there was a fair amount of line movement throughout the game, with O’Sullivan skating a lot with Cammalleri and Frolov.

  • ryan oliver

    thanks Rich

  • Anonymous

    Cloutier and Labarbera should take notes on how to make a save without letting out a rebound.

  • we rock

    From what i saw in the first it looked like Ersberg was real calm and composed and made some good saves. wasnt able to watch the 2nd or 3rd but by the low score i take it he held his own! 15 games to go till we kiss this horrid season goodbye!!!

  • John Roy Morgan

    I see the future, it has two goal tenders,
    Jonathan Bernier and Erik Ersberg.

    I still don’t see any D-men…

  • Maverick

    Sully should stay with Frolov and Cammy. I really like that line. Kopi and Brown can keep auditioning for their linemate… I think they should sign Palffy to a 1 year 1$ million contract to play with them for the rest of the season :P He has been tearing it up in the Slovak league.

  • Paul

    The Kings should let Ersberg start the rest of the season, so they can see what he’s really got.

    He’s the only goalie in that list of 10 that seems to have confidence in his ability to stop pucks.

    He USES his catching glove! What a novel concept (LaBarbara)!

    Now it could just be that teams haven’t scouted him enough to expose his weaknesses, but what do the Kings have to loose to give this guy a real shot?

  • nykingfan

    I agree with John Ray..that looks like the future tandem in net for LA. Its hard to get excited after only one start, but he was so calm in net and didn’t flop around..he also controlled rebounds well.
    I would like to see him get the majority of the starts the remainder of the season. I doubt that will hapen since he’s on the Manchester playoff roster and I’m sure Kings management would rather he get the work in a playoff atmosphere. I can’t really fault them for thinking that way. I don’t worry about finishing last overall. I still watch every game hoping for a victory. The standings take care of themselves. I’ll look to see where we are the last game of the season.
    I thought Harrold played a really good game. He’s looked more comfortable since he’s been back up and playing regularly.
    Minn played a strong defensive game and limited the Kings offensive chances. the one’s we had, Backstom was strong in goal.
    It looks like Cammy is getting back to where he was. The goal was a true “goal scorers” goal. Great positioning to control the puck. I think the Kings should still try to tie him up with a long term deal. The guy is the best pure goal scorer we have. There aren’t that many of those guys around the league.

  • Kevco

    One game does not a goalie for sure, anyone remember how good Clouts looked his first two games back here last month?
    I sure hope he can help and he gets to stay up for awhile.
    Time to start our big finish to end of the season and play hard the last month!

  • mike

    Matt I’ve got to ask you .. given that the Kings called up Cloutier instead of other possibilities — given that they sent down their better AHL prospects Purcell and Boyle in order to give playing time to the likes of Thornton and Willsie — and the real smoking gun — in overtime they had their d-men taking defensive zone face offs — are the Kings truly looking to ensure their best chance at the #1 pick? Not that that’s a bad idea, but I’d never have thought they would do it until now.

  • motalar

    Yes, Ersberg looked good, but where does he fit in? If Bernier moves up to Manchester next year, they could have four goalies there (Quick, Taylor, Zatkoff, Bernier). Then you have Labarbara and Cloutier still under contract.
    Plus, Ersberg is the only one without a contract next year (RFA status).

  • jkwondachef

    You don’t know what you’ve got until you use it. Ersberg played well, looked calm and under control. There are a lot of negative nancy’s on this blog who just won’t jump off the Stamkos train. Give Ersberg a shot to show what he’s got in the last 15 or so games. We aren’t making the playoffs so we haven’t got much to loose. Obviously we need to figure out the goaltending situation for next year. It may look like this Labarbara, Cloutier/Ersberg/Bernier. Unless they buyout Clouts contract which seems unlikely.

  • Renbe

    Mike to answer you question YES, YES, YES. Every move the Kings have made in the last 3 weeks is to ensure last place. Please don’t tell me about all the draft picks either. At best, the majority of draft picks are 2-4 yrs from playing. Solution…2 BIG, hard hitting defenseman 3 and a 5. Add 1 or 2 middleweight enforcers to protect young guys. Add Boyle, Purcell, and Bernier. You a now a solid playoff team. Your draft picks can now fill in more spots in FUTURE years.

  • nykingfan

    To all the conspiracy theorists…Please stop! The Kings are not trying to lose games on purpose.
    They wouldn’t bother to go into overtime to do it, they would get hammered in the 1st period and never make a comeback. Why against CHicago did they play their asses off in coming back? Why go through all of that when you are throwing the game?
    That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever read on this blog.

  • brianguy

    “I think they should sign Palffy to a 1 year 1$ million contract to play with them for the rest of the season :P”

    ha, I made this suggestion near the end of the season. somebody should at least be on the phone to his agent, put out a feeler

  • brianguy

    correction, near start of THIS seaason

  • Maverick

    I think they should really just bring up Purcell and keep him on the Kopi/Brown line. Normally Nagy would be there but it is not looking good for him to return so the Kings might as well train another top 6 forward who has some talent for the rest of the season instead of auditioning a bunch of 3rd and 4th liners.

  • Anonymous

    Hey NY no one is saying the Kings players are trying to lose. But you would have to be a fool to think MANAGEMENT has put the best available players on the ice. Cloutier, Klemm, Willsie, Guliano, Ellis. Give me a break. I’ll take Boyle, Moulson, Purcell &
    Westgarth and maybe get a solid defenseman that hits.

  • Anonymous

    Again with “Cammi is the pure goal scorer on the team”. That’s a load of crap. Go to the King’s stats and see that he’s 4th in shot percentage behind Kopi, Fro and Brown by 3-5 pct pts. He shoots the puck more than anyone on the team with 155 shots in 48 games. Kopi has 166 shots in 68 games. Complaints about Thornton aside, he’s got the highest pct. of anyone who’s played more than 40 games. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, Cammi is out for Cammi. Who the hell does he think he’s impressing with that drop to the knee shot. He’s a puck hog who will take the shot rather than feed the open man. I’ve watched every game this season and this team played better when he was out. When someone handles the puck as much as he does, they can’t help but get assists. More goals have been scored off his missed shots than from his passes. He has difficulty controlling either zone because he gets outmuscled 90 pct of the time. If the goal he scored against Minn that deflected off the goalies skate was a pure goal scorers goal then Ovechkin and Crosby must not be human. Trade this showboat for some needed help.

  • nykingfan

    Annonymous

    I think you are so wrong on both points. You are trying to further the point of the Kings management deliberately throwing the remainder of the season.
    As much as I would like to see the young guys playing in the NHL, the experience they can get from playing in a playoff atmosphere could be invaluable. As Crawford and DL have said, there are things they all need to work on to improve their game. Let them work on it down there, where when you make mistakes, they aren’t magnified. When next year comes around, I’m sure they will be better prepared for the NHL. As much as I think Purcell will be a great player, he sure as hell didn’t show it while he was up here..probably because he’s not ready.
    This season has been over for a long while. Let the veteran guys play and earn their paychecks. They suck, but why give them a free pass on stealing the money? I seriously doubt Willsie, Thornton, etc will be returning next year. If we were making a push for the playoffs, your argument would have more weight.

    As for Cammy…stop looking at statistics and look at the games. What did you see from him last year and during the 1st part of this season? He was a goal machine for the Kings. When the puck was on his stick, good things were happening. Players look to set him up in the slot..why? because they know he can bury the puck better than most. He hasn’t had a good season partly due to injury. To think he is a puck hog is ludicrous. I grew up watching Mike Bossy and the uneducated hockey fan also thought he was a puck hog. Guess, what? He was one of the greatest pure goal scorers in the history of the game. I’m not comparing cammy to Bossy, but the point is teammates look to get the puck to the best goal scorers.

  • Anonymous

    nykingfan:
    I respect your standing by Cammy because you believe in him. I don’t. If you grew up watching the Islanders then I suggest going to their web site and looking up the carrer stats for guys like Bossy, Trottier, Tonelli, Goring and Brent Sutter. These guys played when there was success in NY. They played as a team. Their shot pcts. were 6-10 pts higher than Cammy’s. Don’t tell me not to look at the stats because stats are how players and teams are judged. If stats aren’t important then why is everyone on this site always talking about them and how the Kings should be getting the first pick in the draft because they suck? A team’s success is determined by how well they play as a complete team. Stanley Cup champions may have a couple of standout players, but they don’t have success if those standouts are the only part of the equation. Cammy is not a good playmaker. If you ever played youth hockey, playmaker patches were given out just like hattrick patches were. Three assists equal three goals. It’s time Cammy learned how to pass for success instead of always trying to improve on HIS success.

  • nykingfan

    I understand we have different views on Cammy…thats cool..that’s what makes the world go around. We can certainly debate the point though. I’m not going to dispute the greatness of the Islander “teams” They had the greatest coach of all time and the best collection of pure talent you will ever see. They played togehter as a team and each individual player knew his role. Bossy’s role was to score goals. the job of Trottier and Gillies was to set him up. They obviously scored their fair share of goals as well, but nobody was expecting Bossy to go in the corners and dig out loose pucks. That wasn’t his job. Now, does the fact that when Bossy got the puck he would shoot and shoot often make him a puck hog?
    I played plenty of Ice hockey growing up and my job was to be in the corners digging for loose pucks. To be honest, the glory always goes to the guys who can score. Its just the way it was and is. That doesn’t take away from the importance of the muckers.
    To me the only stat that counts is how many points the team has. To that extent, the Kings are failures.
    We just differ on cammy value to the team.

  • Anonymous

    nykingfan;

    Differing opinions is what makes this country great. No hard feelings. Keep the future comments coming.

  • nykingfan

    Anonymous

    couldn’t have said it better. In the end we’ll both be cheering when the Kings win the cup no matter who is on the roster.