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:
Brad Richardson moved up to the first line alongside Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds, and it was his wrist shot that allowed Kopitar to score the game’s first goal off the rebound. He didn’t end up playing much (only 13:30) because the Kings spent so much time on the power play. For one day, the Kings didn’t need Sturm and Murray made it sound like that was the plan all along.
“I had been thinking about it [not starting Sturm] through yesterday, watching Colorado play the last couple games with their line up, I certainly had (Kevin) Westgarth on notice,” he said. “The player that was going to be out would have been Sturm.”
Who will be there Monday night when the Kings host the Detroit Red Wings? The rumor mill hasn’t generated any new names lately — just the old ones. Ales Hemsky (Edmonton); Stephen Weiss (Florida); and the big fish, Brad Richards of Dallas. Richards is currently on IR with a concussion, and SportsIllustrated.com’s Stu Hackel did a good job breaking down what that means for any team that wants him.
Naturally, general manager Dean Lombardi didn’t tip his hand about any trades as Monday’s noon deadline approaches. Here’s what he did say during the first intermission Saturday in an interview with Jim Fox and Bob Miller (transcript provided by the team):
Question: “Why was Marco Sturm put on waivers and what do you think about him being picked up?”
Dean Lombardi: “To make it simple, the bottom line is that we had to create a roster spot in case something happened at the deadline. I guess it’s safe to assume obviously that there was a risk we were prepared to take. That’s it in a nutshell, that if we had or if we do something here Sunday, then we would be in a roster jam and we wouldn’t be able to do anything. You saw Chicago do it with [Nick] Boynton. They lost Boynton, too, but you have to weigh the risk in order to create the best possibility.”
Question: “We’ve talked about it many times even coming up here the last two weeks, I know you’ve been hounded with questions, but it is a different scenario this year because we’ve looked at the standings now for the last 30 days and there’s no gap developing.”
Dean Lombardi: “Right. You don’t have a lot of pure sellers so to speak. The one thing that is different is I think we saw two classic hockey deals. We haven’t seen it in a long time with St. Louis, and Colorado, and Dallas, and Pittsburgh. You know so many of these deals are predicated upon cap space or money or contracts being up. But that’s a very different chain, but everything else is status quo. Again, you don’t have a lot of sellers in the situation.”
Question: “How many hours a day would you say at this time of the season that you’re on the phone?”
Dean Lombardi: “Well this process starts actually four weeks in advance. Ron Hextall spent a week with our scouts just preparing for what might not be available. So it’s not really time on the phone, it’s the constant meetings to judge the impact that if we do this or what are the ramifications of it now and down the road. It’s not only the phone that’s taxing; it’s the constant evaluation of what might be there.”
Question: “Let’s talk about what will go on tomorrow. Where will you be, will you be in the office and near the phone all day and Monday morning and all that?”
Dean Lombardi: “Yeah I mean we’ll go back after tonight’s game. I’ll meet with the coaches again. Last night, it’s kind of strange how it works with the time differences, but I was in there till late last night after the east coast games got done. We’ve been through and that’s just part of the process.”
Question: “Everybody wants Brayden Schenn, I would imagine you’re not tempted to give up on him.”
Dean Lombardi: “No, it would have to be really something significant. The way his stock has risen here with the World Juniors and what he’s done. It would have to be really special and quit frankly I don’t think he’s going anywhere.”
A few more notes:
- Ryan Smyth recorded his 400th career NHL assist
- Brad Richardson played in his 300th career game
- The Kings are now 19-0-0 when leading after two periods and 16-8-4 in one-goal games
- Dustin Brown: 4 hits = $200 for Children’s Hospital L.A.
- Including 32 shots that missed the net and 15 that were blocked, the Kings directed 89 shots toward Brian Elliott, which is ridiculous.
- The Kings went 39-24 on faceoffs, led by Kopitar (16-7) and Stoll (14-5)