The Kings’ victory Wednesday over the San Jose Sharks extended their mastery over their Pacific Division rivals to 11-0-1 in their last 12 games at Staples Center, including the regular season and playoffs. The Kings won all four games against the Sharks at Staples Center in their second-round playoff series last spring, underscoring the value of home-ice advantage during the postseason. The Sharks went 10-1-1 to lead the NHL with 21 points before losing to the Kings 4-3 in overtime Wednesday. The Kings could have fallen seven points behind the Sharks, but by winning in OT, they moved within four. The Pacific Division race is one that bears monitoring all season, if for no other reason than the team with home-ice advantage will have an edge in the playoffs.
What was it Wayne Gretzky said? “One hundred percent of the shots you don’t take, don’t go in.” Something like that, anyway. Anze Kopitar acknowledged getting some advice from Kings fans to shoot the puck. It’s happened now and then during an incredible stretch in which he’s hardly scored. Kopitar went the final 16 regular-season games without a goal last season, and then had only one in the first 13 games this season. Then he got a pass in overtime of Wednesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks and the fans bellowed, “Shoooot.” So he did.
Phoenix Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal, their second-leading scorer with 11 points (five goals, six assists), drew a two-game suspension Monday from the NHL for charging Jeff Petry of the Edmonton Oilers during Saturday’s game. He’s ineligible to play in the Coyotes’ game Tuesday against the Kings in Glendale, Ariz. Here’s the NHL suspension video: http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=60&id=470760&lang=en&navid=DL|NHL|home
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is 4-0 in shootouts this season, having denied 10 of 11 shooters after Sunday’s victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Quick said Monday he keeps mental notes on the favorite moves of opposing shooters, whether they like to shoot quickly or make a fake or two before trying to slip the puck behind him. He also stressed the importance of gaining the extra point after each team draws one for forcing a game to overtime and then a shootout.
Kings forward Kyle Clifford was fined $2,756.41 for kneeing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers in the first period of Sunday’s game. Clifford was not penalized for the play, which happened at the 7-minute, 41-second mark of the Kings’ 2-1 shootout victory at Staples Center. Nugent-Hopkins needed assistance in returning to the Oilers’ bench, but returned to the game after a short stay in the dressing room. The fine is the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement and goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The Kings said Monday they don’t have any plans to follow the Clippers in covering the Lakers’ championship banners and retired uniform numbers, denying a report contained near the bottom of The Associated Press report on Sunday’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Here’s what the AP wrote:
“The Kings are following the lead of the Clippers, and will be covering up the Lakers’ championship banners and retired numbers with gigantic photo banners of their own players along the west wall of Staples Center. The change is expected to take place in the next couple of weeks, according to a member of the building crew who received a memo to that effect.”
Kings spokesman Jeff Moeller denied the AP report Monday. The Kings have had plenty of chances to hide the Lakers’ banners over the years since the teams have shared first the Forum and then Staples Center since 1967.
The Edmonton Oilers went into Sunday’s game against the Kings as one of the NHL’s biggest messes. They gave up a league-high 48 goals through 12 games to start the season and were a dismal 3-8-1 after a 5-4 loss Saturday to the Phoenix Coyotes. Their goaltending was subpar, with Jason LaBarbera not exactly sharp as a tack. Richard Bachman was recalled from the minor leagues and he got the start against the Kings, and nearly earned a victory. The Kings took 48 shots at him, but got only one past him during a 2-1 shootout victory. Here are three things to consider about a game that very nearly got away from the Kings:
The league began to scrutinize fighting after the deaths of Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak, Bob Probert and Rick Rypien in recent years, a good idea as far as Kings defenseman Willie Mitchel is concerned. All four were considered top heavyweights, men who made NHL rosters because they could fight rather than score goals.
The Edmonton Oilers visit Staples Center on Sunday with a 3-8-1 record after losing 5-4 to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday. The Oilers gave up power-play goals on the tying and go-ahead markers. Edmonton has given up a Western Conference-high 48 goals and has a minus-13 goal differential. In other words, the Kings should be wary and not let down their guard. Good teams always capture the Kings’ attention. It’s the poor ones they need to watch.
Some people can’t enough statistics. The Kings’ crack media relations staff came up with a few gems after Thursday’s wild 7-4 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. For instance, the Kings last scored seven times in a game in an 8-1 rout of the Vancouver Canucks on April 1, 2010. Guessing that was no April’s Fool joke.
There were a few more facts and figures, including: