Three things about the L.A. Kings victory over the Sabres

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick blanked the Sabres on Thursday for his team-record 33rd career shutout. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick blanked the Sabres on Thursday for his team-record 33rd career shutout. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Here are the first few paragraphs of Thursday’s game story:

The Kings had just enough Thursday. The defending Stanley Cup champions had 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders on their roster when they faced off against the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center, and not one healthy or eligible body more.

There simply was no margin for error for the Kings in their first game since defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested by Redondo Beach police on charges of domestic violence and suspended indefinitely with pay by the NHL on Monday morning.

Under normal circumstances, the mere presence of the struggling Sabres would have eased the Kings’ minds and made for an easy night. But an early goal and a record-setting goaltending performance also propelled the Kings to a 2-0 victory, their fifth in a row.

Here are three more things about the Kings’ latest victory:

First, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar scored power-play goals and the Kings clicked on two of three chances with the man-advantage overall. It’s a start for a power play that was 2 for 20 (10 percent) and ranked 25th in the 30-team NHL going into the game. The Kings must be better in their special teams play if they are to defend their Stanley Cup championship. It’s really that simple.

Second, Jonathan Quick stopped 29 shots and recorded his Kings-record 33rd shutout of his career, one more than the mark he shared since Oct. 16 with Rogie Vachon. “It really is nothing new,” Kopitar said of Quick’s play in goal. “He’s just solid back there. We try to help him out as much as we can. When breakdowns do happen, he’s back there. He’s saved our butts a bunch of times already. I’m sure he’s going to continue to do it.”

Third, the Kings welcomed defenseman Jake Muzzin to their lineup after he sat out the first six games of the season because of an upper-body injury. They also played for the first time since defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested on domestic violence charges and suspended Monday by the NHL, which turned out to be less of a distraction for the team than anyone might have imagined. The Kings are strong that way. Nothing seems to trouble them. Let’s see how it plays out long-term.

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Injury updates on Kings injured forwards Marian Gaborik and Trevor Lewis

Kings forwards Marian Gaborik and Trevor Lewis continue to be sidelined by upper-body injuries, and there is no timetable for their returns. The Kings did not have a healthy or eligible player on their roster for Thursday’s game against the Sabres. Gaborik sat out for the fourth game and Lewis did not play for the sixth time.

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L.A. Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin makes his season debut

Defenseman Jake Muzzin made his long-delayed and much-anticipated 2014-15 debut Thursday, after sitting out the Kings’ first six games because of an unspecified upper-body injury. Muzzin rejoined the Kings’ top defense pair, skating with usual partner Drew Doughty.

Muzzin’s return and the suspension of Slava Voynov caused a shuffle Thursday in the pairs Kings coach Darryl Sutter used to start the season. Brayden McNabb skated with Doughty in the first six games, but he was with Matt Greene. Alec Martinez and Robyn Regehr also formed a pair.

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It’s Nolan versus Nolan for the first time as Kings face the Sabres

Kings forward Jordan Nolan grew up with the ultimate hockey dad. Ted Nolan served as coach of the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Islanders and the Sabres for a second stint that started last season. But before he reached the NHL, he was the youth coach on one of Jordan’s teams.

The Nolans faced off against each other for the first time as opponents in the NHL on Thursday night at Staples Center, when father Ted and the Sabres played against son Jordan and the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.

“He’s an NHL coach and he’s also my dad, but he knows a lot about the game, so I’m always trying to impress him,” Jordan Nolan said. “I’m always looking for advice and whenever he’s in the building I push a little harder because I want to make him proud and show him what I got.

“I always seem to work harder when he’s in the building, so hopefully the night goes well.”

Jordan Nolan, 25, has filled checker’s role during his tenure with the Kings, and that’s been especially true this season. He went into Thursday’s game without a goal or an assist in five games, averaging only 9 minutes, 37 seconds of ice time.

He was surrounded by reporters at the Kings’ pregame workout, however, with teammates giving him a hard time about the sudden surge of attention. It’s not been often that he’s been asked to answer questions about himself or his play.

Jordan Nolan didn’t seem to mind, however. He understood this was a special occasion.

“We never thought this would happen,” he said of facing his father. “We always hoped to get another chance. But to do it (against the Sabres), it’s pretty special for him, and for our family to be back in that organization and for myself to be here. It’s pretty remarkable.”

Asked about playing for his dad as a youth, Jordan Nolan said, “I think he favored me a little bit. He played me a lot. It was always nice to play for him. He always got the best out of me and he always pushed me hard.”

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NHL could give the L.A. Kings salary cap relief if Slava Voynov is banned for an extended period

It’s possible the NHL could give the shorthanded Kings some relief from the salary cap if defenseman Slava Voynov, who is suspended indefinitely with pay after his arrest Monday on domestic violence charges, is banned from the league for an extended period. At present, Voynov’s salary counts against the cap, as if he were sidelined by an injury or suspended for any other reason.

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday that during a conference call Tuesday with the Kings, “I did, however, allow for the possibility that we may revisit the player’s treatment if it becomes clear that this is going to be a longer-term situation.”

Daly told the website that the NHL acted Monday on “more information about the incident that has been available publicly.” Daly did not elaborate on the league’s swift action, which was announced only hours after Voynov was arrested by Redondo Beach police.

 

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L.A. Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin given medical clearance to play again

Jake Muzzin was cleared Wednesday to play in Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center, giving the Kings the full complement of six defensemen. Muzzin was sidelined by an upper-body injury suffered during the final week of training camp and sat out the team’s first six games.

“Excited for (tonight),” Muzzin said. “You’ve got to deal with it the proper way. It could have been a lot worse if we didn’t deal if we rushed it. We’ve got a lot of season left and I’m looking forward to it. … It didn’t affect my skating or anything like that. … It’s not 100 percent, but it’s good to go.”

 

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Slava Voynov’s lawyer says suspended L.A. Kings defenseman never hit woman

Craig Renetzky, the attorney for Slava Voynov, told The Hockey News that the alleged victim in the case of domestic violence that resulted in the Kings’ defenseman’s arrest by Redondo Beach police early Monday morning and his indefinite suspension by the NHL was injured in an “accident.”

“Hopefully, the police will get that,” Renetzky said. “And we’re hoping the NHL looks at the new evidence and will lift the suspension. What the police will find out when they talk to her is that that action was not related to Mr. Voynov. I can’t go into complete details, but Mr. Voynov never hit the woman. This is really just a pure accident and we’re going to provide them with some additional evidence we hope they’ll present to the District Attorney’s office. And if they do, based on my experience, they don’t have a case.

“I think if the authorities ac properly and do a complete investigation, they will have to find that charges are not warranted.”

Detectives hope to complete their investigation and file their reports with the District Attorney by week’s end, Redondo Beach police Lt. Joe Hoffman told the Los Angeles News Group on Tuesday.

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Injured Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin hopes to play Thursday against the Sabres

Jake Muzzin, left, signed a five-season contract extension with the Kings that will keep him in uniform through the 2019-20 season. (Fil photo by Michael Owen Baker/Los Angeles Daily News)

Jake Muzzin, left, signed a five-season contract extension with the Kings that will keep him in uniform through the 2019-20 season. (Fil photo by Michael Owen Baker/Los Angeles Daily News)

 

Jake Muzzin has been sidelined by an upper-body injury since before the start of the regular season Oct. 8. But the Kings’ defenseman said Tuesday he hoped to play for the first time this season Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. Here’s more from Muzzin: “Feeling good. Getting close. Maybe Thursday. I’ve just got to go see the doctor. We’ll get cleared, which I’m pretty sure we will. Feel good, so …”

The Kings have only five healthy and eligible defensemen on the roster after Slava Voynov’s domestic violence suspension Monday by the NHL. Voynov is banned from all club activities, including practices and games.

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L.A. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi talks about Slava Voynov (part 2)

Here’s more of a 20-minute interview Tuesday with Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who talks here about what he’s learned about defenseman Slava Voynov’s arrest and suspension on domestic violence charges:

“I’ve got a conference call today (with the NHL). That’s where it all gets gray here. There’s so many things. Slava certainly has his rights, then you have the police investigation, then you have the league investigation, then you’ve got the issues about, OK, how long does this go? So, we’re in limbo until this process plays out. In the meantime, it has ramifications. Do we recall a player. What are the implications for the (salary) cap. What’s the shortest (he could be suspended)? If he’s found not-guilty does that mean he’s still suspended? There’s so many issues right here. I’ve got a call today, but even then I don’t expect a lot of answers.

“For the NHL, this is probably new turf. I think it’s new turf for a lot of leagues. Again, because the old system was to wait until the criminal system does it’s thing. That ain’t the case. Now what do you do with all that gray that’s out there, particularly now again in a cap era when it’s no that easy to recall players and deal with things. We’ll have to start working their way through it.

“Nothing at all (in terms of discipline issues with Voynov in the past). Never even been late for practice. This is a kid, you could have made more money in juniors, in the minors, and his father was really struggling. Kept his promise. … Anything involving character issues off the rink, even when we drafted him, he kept his word and came over right away when he could have made more money in Russia. That’s all on the positive side. Then, you know, so …”

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L.A. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi speaks about Slava Voyonov (part 1)

Here’s some of what Kings general manager Dean Lombardi told beat reporters during a 20-plus minute question-and-answer session Tuesday in the wake of defenseman Slava Voynov’s arrest and suspension for domestic violence:

“We’ve got to let this process go through. They (the NHL) don’t need to explain. I think it’s pretty self-evident. The biggest issue you’ve got, other than there’s always that line between innocent and proven guilty, that’s where the rub is. Are you surprised they did what they did, especially in this climate? Well, no. In the other cases in the old days, the leagues would always say, wait a minute there’s a criminal process that has to take place before they can react.

“So, you saw that, even in the NBA. They had nine cases in the last three years. You saw that in baseball with Albert Belle, (Jose) Canseco. So, that’s the way it was always handled, that it’s a criminal thing, let it play out. Even the players played, because we were going under the premise of innocent until proven guilty.

“That now is obviously changed. From the old days. I get it. To say I’m surprised they acted that way, no. Do I think it’s inappropriate, no. … That’s clearly the way leagues are headed right now. The charge itself is enough to take action, when in the past, it wasn’t.”

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