Although it’s possible the Kings could go ker-plunk and miss the Stanley Cup playoffs entirely, it’s about as likely as aliens arriving in El Segundo to kidnap Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. The Kings will clinch a playoff berth soon enough and they’re likely to be the third-place team in the Pacific Division. And that means they will play the second-place club. At the moment, as of Sunday morning, that would be the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks would have home-ice advantage, however.
It’s also possible the Ducks could fall to second and face the Kings, a matchup that would have sports editors in town scrambling to learn the difference between the red line and the goal line. (“Wait, aren’t they both red?”) But the Ducks have the numbers stacked in their favor, including the first tiebreaker against the Sharks. They also had two games in hand, as of Sunday. The Ducks have eight games left and the Sharks have six, including one at the Honda Center on April 9.
The Kings have seven games remaining, including their regular-season finale against the Ducks at the Staples Center on April 12. Four of the games are on the road, including one against the Sharks at the SAP Center on Thursday. It’s not an easy schedule, but it’s not all that taxing, either. So, look for the Kings to clinch third place later this week and for the inevitable matchup with the Sharks to be cemented next week. Crazy stuff could happen between now and the end of the regular season, but everything points to another Kings-Sharks showdown.
The Kings have beaten Colorado, Calgary, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary (again), Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburgh away from home to match a franchise-record eight-game road winning streak first set during the 1974-75 season. What does it really mean? It could be very important since the Kings are all but assured of starting the playoffs on the road as the third-place team in the Pacific Division.
Kings assistant general manager Rob Blake was named Wednesday as Team Canada’s general manager for the World Championships to be held May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus. Ron Hextall, the man Blake replaced when Hextall left the Kings for the Philadelphia Flyers last year, also will be part of the management team. Blake, 44, played with the Kings and more recently served in the NHL’s player safety department. In addition to assisting Kings GM Dean Lombardi, Blake also is the general manager for the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the AHL.
Here’s the link to the Hockey Canada story: http://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/news/Rob-Blake-named-general-manager-of-Canadas-National-Mens-Team-for-2014-IIHF-Ice-Hockey-World-Championship
Kings executive and all-around face of the franchise Luc Robitaille was named Wednesday to the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee, one of four new members. Robitialle, who joined the Hall in 2009 after a stellar playing career with the Kings, joined Philadelphia Flyers exec Bobby Clarke (enshrined in 1987) and former Montreal Canadiens standout Serge Savard (enshrined in 1986) as the newest members of the selection committee. In addition, Columbus Blue Jackets exec John Davidson was appointed as the committee chairman. Here’s the link: http://www.hhof.com/htmlNewsPromo/news.shtml#NewSelCom
Here’s the link. Spoiler alert, he didn’t say much more Monday morning to Philadelphia reporters than he did Saturday to Los Angeles scribes. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sports/flyers/LAs-Carter-expects-boos-as-he-returns-vs-Flyers-.html
The Kings’ game Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins has been shifted to 870 AM from the team’s usual home on 1150-AM. Radio coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. (PDT) and the opening faceoff will be a little past 4 p.m. The press release did not indicate a reason for the change.
Kings forward Jeff Carter claimed his return to Philadelphia was “not a big deal.” But he sure seemed to be in a hurry to get there after the Kings’ 4-0 victory Saturday over the Florida Panthers at Staples Center, edging away from reporters who wanted to know more about his feelings for the City of Brotherly Love.
“It is what it is,” Carter said, relying on a very tired cliche. “It’s been three years since I left there. … It’s a big game for both teams. They’ve been playing really well and we’ve started to get things going, so it should be a lot of fun.”
Carter played with the Flyers from 2005-11, but because of scheduling quirks hasn’t played in Philadelphia until now. The Kings (40-25-6) have won two in a row after losing three in a row after winning eight in a row. The Flyers (38-25-7) have won five consecutive, including a 4-1 victory Saturday over the St. Louis Blues.
Philadelphia dealt Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a package of players and draft picks June 23, 2011. He played 39 games with the Blue Jackets before the Kings acquired him for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round draft pick Feb. 23, 2012. Carter then helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup championship in 2012-13. He was their leading goal-scorer last season and is again in 2013-14.
Dustin Brown played only 7 minutes, 12 seconds in the Kings’ 4-0 rout of the Florida Panthers on Saturday at Staples Center. He didn’t play at all in the third period after suffering a chest contusion in the second. Brown’s status for the Kings’ trip to Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburgh was uncertain. The team departed for Philly immediately after the game and is scheduled to practice there Sunday. The Kings play the Flyers on Monday.
Brown, who sat out two games recently because of a lower-body injury, played only 4:05 in the first period against the Panthers. He scored a second-period goal and then headed to the dressing room after he was injured. He did not re-appear on the bench and the team said he suffered an upper-body injury and would not return.
The Kings on Saturday assigned 20-year-old goaltender Patrik Bartosak to their American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, N.H. Bartosak was 33-26-5 with a 2.80 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage plus eight shutouts in 65 games with Red Deer (Alberta) of the junior-level Western Hockey League. Bartosak was tied for fourth in the WHL in wins and tied for first in shutouts.
Bartosak turns 21 on March 29. He was the Kings’ fifth-round pick (146th overall) in last year’s draft. The Kings signed him to a three-year entry-level contract March 5. He was named the top goalie in all of Canadian junior hockey and was picked the WHL’s first-team all-star team.