Detroit 7, Kings 3.

Did the anticipation, and the eventual catharsis, of the trade deadline catch up to the players? Was it bad luck? Maybe both?

Those were the questions that needed to be asked, because it just didn’t make sense that a team that had not given up more than three goals in a game since Jan. 8 would suddenly, out of nowhere, give up seven. Interesting to note that Terry Murray admitted to having thoughts of pulling Jonathan Quick after the Red Wings’ first goal, a bad-angle shot by Drew Miller that tied the game at 1.

Detroit scored the game’s next six goals to chase Quick, and the second-guessing began.

Here’s the game story, here’s the story about the Dustin Penner trade/Justin Williams extension, and here are a few notes that didn’t make the paper:
Continue reading “Detroit 7, Kings 3.” »

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Kings, Williams agree to four-year extension. Update.

Justin Williams has signed a four-year extension that will keep him in Los Angeles until 2015. According to multiple reports, Williams will earn $3.9 million, $3.9, $3.75 and $3.05 million. That averages out to an annual cap hit of $3.65 million.

Williams has been unusually healthy this season, appearing in all 62 games and ranking second on the Kings in points (49), third in assists (29) and tied for the team lead in goals (20).

“What he’s given us doesn’t surprise us,” general manager Dean Lombardi told reporters at team headquarters earlier today. “This is a good hockey player. … That ‘connect the dots’-type guy, we need that, and that’s what he brings.”
Continue reading “Kings, Williams agree to four-year extension. Update.” »

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Kings trade for Penner. Update.

The Kings reeled in the biggest fish at the NHL trade deadline, acquiring left wing Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Colten Teubert, a first-round 2011 draft pick, and a conditional third-round pick in 2012.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun wrote on Twitter that the 2012 pick will become a second-round pick if the Kings win the Stanley Cup.

Update: General manager Dean Lombardi told reporters at team headquarters in El Segundo that the trade ultimately came together Monday.

“When we left here late last night, everything was still very much in the air,” he said. “In terms of this having me going to bed last night thinking this was done, we were far from it.

“This is (one of) those times when you look at your locker room and say, they deserve some help in strengthening our locker room, making us a better team.”
Continue reading “Kings trade for Penner. Update.” »

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Kings 4, Colorado 3, plus more Sturm.

First, the game:

The Kings dominated for 50 minutes before taking a string of penalties that allowed Colorado to score three goals — on its final three shots — to make the final score look closer than the game actually was.

“We definitely can’t be taking penalties that late in the game,” Drew Doughty said. “You see what happens, they almost caught up and took it to OT and that’s not something we want to be doing. We’ve got to learn from it, but [we’re] happy with the game.”

The Avs were outshot 42-17 en route to losing for the 14th time in their last 16 games.

Anze Kopitar scored for the third time in his last three games, officially ending his drought. Alec Martinez, Doughty and Jarret Stoll all connected on long shots, the latter two coming on the power play.

Jonathan Quick made 14 saves for the victory. He got burned when he mishandled the puck behind the net — or miscommunicated with his defense, or both — which led to a Paul Stastny goal in the final minute.

The Kings’ 42 shots on goal set a new season high, and the 17 shots against were two off a season low. Considering the Kings spent 13:36 on the power play — almost a quarter of the game — it’s no surprise.

“We made it interesting at the end just through getting too casual, a little careless with some plays at critical times at the game,” head coach Terry Murray said. “You go into the third period with that kind of scenario you want to make sure you’re able to lock it down. Good teams do. You don’t get reckless or careless and start taking some penalties, especially the high sticking penalties. … We have to clean that part of it up right away.”

Now, about Sturm getting claimed off waivers by Washington and its implications:

Continue reading “Kings 4, Colorado 3, plus more Sturm.” »

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Sturm is out; Loktionov could be, too.

The Marco Sturm experiment ended today when the Washington Capitals plucked the veteran winger off waivers from the Kings.

On Thursday, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told the Washington Post that third-line winger Eric Fehr would miss up to two weeks; adding Sturm could be in response to that injury. One must figure that the Kings did their homework on such a possibility before letting Sturm go. Now that he’s gone, the Kings are down a man entering today’s 1 p.m. game against the Colorado Avalanche.

Don’t expect Andrei Loktionov to be summoned from Manchester.

Monarchs head coach Mark Morris told the Manchester Union Leader that Loktionov is done for the season after sustaining a shoulder or wrist injury Friday.

No word yet on who Anze Kopitar’s left wing will be today.

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Sturm is placed on waivers.

The Kings placed forward Marco Sturm on waivers this morning. The veteran would only be gone in the unlikely event that a team is willing to pick up his $3.5 million contract for the remainder of the season. There aren’t too many contending teams that are willing or able to absorb that money.

But it could happen. The NHL trade deadline is looming at noon Monday. At a time of the season when teams tend to sacrifice prospects or picks for veterans, Sturm and his 238 career goals are available at the cost of zero prospects or picks.

That’s essentially what the Kings gave up in December to acquire Sturm from the Boston Bruins. He’s scored four goals and nine points in 17 games since, including no goals and an assist in two games since being activated off IR Wednesday. Asked to evaluate Sturm’s performance after the Kings’ 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild last night, head coach Terry Murray said “It’s coming. … I’d like to see more from him and I will see more from him.”

Maybe that was being a tad optimistic. There isn’t much time between now and noon Monday for the Kings to decide whether Sturm is the bona fide No. 1 left wing Anze Kopitar has needed since …well … for quite some time. Placing Sturm on waivers signals that the Kings are probably focusing their attention outside the organization, rather than inside, for that help.

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Kings 4, Minnesota 2.

Any later in the season, the Kings’ win Thursday night would be nothing more or less than a straightforward move up in the Western Conference standings.

That special feat deserves its due. It’s not every day that two teams in a dead heat in the standings play each other in a “four-point game.” The Kings have done it twice in the span of two days now, and won both times. In the process they’ve moved up three spots in the standings to fifth.

But my story for tomorrow’s editions — if you got the late edition — focused on the trade deadline, and the man whose two-goal game raised 26 eyebrows in the Staples Center press box. (We journalists aren’t much good at math, but I’m assuming that the credentialed scouts from 13 NHL teams had two eyebrows apiece.)

Wayne Simmonds says he isn’t worried about the deadline, meaning he’s either a cool customer of the Edmonton Journal or he doesn’t read the Edmonton Journal at all. I don’t know how many teams were asking about Simmonds prior to his two-goal game against the Wild, so let’s call that number x. Dean Lombardi might have 3x teams asking about Simmonds between now and Monday, given that 3x 29.

Really, I’m not good at math. Corrections welcome.

Perhaps the lesson from Thursday’s game is that, with the right linemates, Simmonds can be more than just an energy-line forward, for the Kings or whomever his next employer is. Maybe because of Anze Kopitar’s mere presence, Simmonds had plenty of space to fire off both of his goals from a very sweet area of the ice. But he also had the right amount of English on those shots to get them past Kings killer Niklas Backstrom. That wrist shot looked impressive.

Any earlier in the season, and a two-game sequence like Wednesday and Thursday’s could inspire “team-of-destiny” talk. The Kings won by scoring three goals on a season-low 18 shots in Anaheim, then got a 160-foot goal by Kopitar to seal the victory against Minnesota. Defense and goaltending being equal (and they usually are around here), those things just don’t happen.

But the trade deadline is the one point in the season when fans expect their team to upgrade their personnel. Now is not the time to be looking at destiny to carry a team past the first round of the playoffs, but rather the best available forwards on bad teams with attractive contracts.

So the trade rumors will persist, “destiny” and 160-foot goals be damned. That’s why a two-goal game by Wayne Simmonds can’t simply come and go without counting the number of scouts credentialed for the game.

A few more notes:
Continue reading “Kings 4, Minnesota 2.” »

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Kings 3, Ducks 2.

Willie Mitchell picked a good time to score his second goal of the season.

His long slapshot, off a perfect drop pass from Justin Williams, found its way through a screen at 6:45 of the third period and broke a 2-2 tie at Honda Center. The split crowd of 17,174 voiced its mixed emotions, and the Kings clinched their sixth win in the final game of a 10-game road trip.

Anze Kopitar scored his second goal in his last 16 games, Ryan Smyth scored his 20th goal of the season, and the Kings get to come home (even though they’ve been at home the last three days) to play Minnesota tomorrow night.

Here’s the game story and here are a few details I left out:
Continue reading “Kings 3, Ducks 2.” »

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Why Marco Sturm is in, and why Andrei Loktionov is out.

It would be easy to view Andrei Loktionov’s weekend demotion as a statement on the 20-year-old’s development – or the lack thereof.

Loktionov was scratched for Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders because “there were a couple more games where he’s starting to get exposed on system play,” Terry Murray said after the Kings practiced Monday. The coach specifically mentioned the shootout loss Thursday against the New York Rangers. “There were three or four different looks that they had that were because of (us) losing some coverage,” Murray said.

Come Sunday, Loktionov was playing for the Manchester Monarchs.
Continue reading “Why Marco Sturm is in, and why Andrei Loktionov is out.” »

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Heritage Classic chat today.

Dear readers,

I’ve accepted an invitation to participate in a live chat, hosted by, during today’s Heritage Classic game between Montreal and Calgary (starts at 3 p.m.). I’m extending the invitation to you – and to make it even easier, you can hop in the room right here, without leaving the comforts of The game is going to be televised locally on Versus. Come back at 3 and chat it up:

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