Talk about an Arctic vortex The Kings’ sticks turned into icicles recently.
Jeff Carter isn’t the most talkative player in the Kings’ dressing room. He often skips out before speaking to reporters. It’s not that he’s a bad quote or anything, but he simply avoids the crush of tape records and video cameras more often than not. That changed after he scored two goals in the Kings’ streak-busting 3-1 victory Saturday over the Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center.
Here’s a sample of his postgame comments:
“I gave him (linemate Dwight King) a yell and he made a heck of a play there (passing the puck for the go-ahead goal). That’s what he’s been doing lately for us. He’s an unbelievable player when he skates like that and uses his size. He’s got more skill than people think. I gave him one yell and he looked up.”
“We had some chances in St. Louis (a 5-0 loss Thursday). I should have had two goals. Hit a post and got robbed on another one. … We kept working. We know we have to keep working and battling and things are going to come around.”
Here’s what Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins had to say after Kings rookie Martin Jones stopped 24 shots to record his sixth straight victory (and third shutout) to begin his NHL career: “It turns into math. The more chances you get, the sooner or later, they going to go in. That young man was good. Maybe we just should have ran him the first shift and got it over with. That’s a good goalie they have.”
The Kings continued their superb play with a 6-0 beatdown of the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. Six different players scored for the Kings (20-7-4) and rookie goaltender Martin Jones recorded his second consecutive shutout in only his third NHL game. So, far Jones is 3-0-0, having given up only two goals in a 3-2 shootout win over the Ducks. The Kings’ power play finally clicked, ending a streak of eight-plus games without a man-advantage goal. Montreal was dominant in the first period, but couldn’t crack Jones and was well-beaten by night’s end.
Here are three things about the game:
Michael Cammalleri’s goal with 23 seconds remaining in the game gave the Calgary Flames a 2-1 victory Saturday over the Kings at Staples Center, a game that turned on several pivotal moments. The Kings had their chances, but not enough of them to win the game, extend their points streak to 12 in a row or to please defenseman Drew Doughty. Here are his three things about Saturday’s loss.
1. Of the power play in general, Doughty said, “Our best players on the ice are always on the power play and those are opportunities we need to step up for our team, and we need to score goals. We haven’t been doing that. It’s about time we did. We need to move bodies. We need to get more shots. We need to get those screens and we need to get those rebounds. I can’t remember the last time we got a rebound goal. We need to be doing that. That’s how you score goals in the NHL. Goalies are too good these days. If you’re shooting the puck on them without a screen or a rebound, they’re going to save the puck. It’s shots and rebounds.”
2. Of the Kings’ inability to score against the Flames, especially early in the game, Doughty said, “We were getting through the neutral zone fairly easily. We were creating chances on the rush. We were getting in there. When we get in there, we need to be creating more chances by cycling the puck, by getting to the net, getting screens, getting shots. I think we had only maybe 10 shots in the first period (actually, the Kings outshot the Flames 7-5 in the first period and 22-20 for the game), and we should have had way more than that with the possession time we had. It gets us into trouble when we can’t score goals.”
3. Of the notion that the Kings might have taken the Flames lightly, Doughty said, “I don’t know. I don’t that that is a reason why we didn’t play well. Maybe it is. It’s all about preparation. When you’re going into a game against a team that’s down at the bottom of the standings, you can’t take them lightly. You need to relish that opportunity. You need to make it a must-win game. It’s the second time we’ve just let them stay around for the whole game. They didn’t outplay us and then they scored a late goal. It’s cost us twice. That’s valuable points we need because right now the standings are so tight. We need to be winning games.”
The Kings rallied for a 3-2 overtime victory Monday night over the Canucks in Vancouver, B.C. Anze Kopitar scored the winner 48 seconds into the five-minute overtime and Ben Scrivens made 37 saves to extend the Kings’ streak of recording at least one point to 10 consecutive games (7-0-3). Mike Richards scored the tying goal late in the third period and Kyle Clifford also scored for the Kings (16-6-3). Here are three more takeaways from Monday’s victory:
1. Scrivens continues to amaze. The Kings haven’t lost in regulation play since he took over for an injured Jonathan Quick late in OT of what became a shootout loss Nov. 12 to the Buffalo Sabres. The loss of Quick could have sent the Kings reeling, but Scrivens has stepped in and there has been zero drop off in the Kings’ play in net. Scrivens could be due for a night off soon, with rookie Martin Jones making his NHL debut. Then again, maybe Darryl Sutter will stick with Scrivens until Quick returns from a groin injury that’s expected to sideline him until Christmas.
2. Kopitar continues to amaze. With forward Jeff Carter sidelined for most of the month but a foot injury, Kopitar has regained his scoring touch. His OT goal against the Canucks was his seventh of the season and his second in OT. He leads the Kings with 23 points, including 16 assists. His long scoring drought to end last season and to begin this one are largely forgotten.
3. The Kings continue to amaze. The Kings haven’t dropped a game in regulation time since falling to the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Nov. 2 at Staples Center. Putting them away has been next to impossible since then, with their only three defeats coming in a shootout loss to Buffalo (when Scrivens had the impossible task of entering the game with 1:20 left in OT after Quick was hurt), then an OT loss to Jaromir Jagr and the New Jersey Devils followed by an OT defeat to the Colorado Avalanche. If you’re scoring at home, the Kings have secured 17 out of a possible 20 points in their last 10 games. That’s just what’s been needed to keep the Kings in the thick of the hyper-competitive Western Conference race.
Coach Darryl Sutter often puts an unusual spin on the most straightforward of questions. Thursday’s postgame session, after the Kings dominated the New Jersey Devils with a 35-15 advantage in shots on goal but with a 2-1 overtime defeat by game’s end, was another case in point. Here’s his give-and-take with yours truly, who has been known to ask and ask and ask.
Reporter: “Were the players frustrated by a lack of goals despite such a wide shot disparity?”
Reporter: “Do teams generally not look at that stuff?”
Sutter: “I’m not sure. I’m not 29 other teams.”
Reporter: “I mean players in general, do they or you look up at the shot clock?”
Sutter: “In my mind I know what the scoring chances are, so I don’t put a whole lot into it. First off, guys (on the NHL’s statistical crew) are just, ‘Take, take, take, take. Oh, missed that one. Take, take.’ Sometimes it’s right. Sometimes it’s wrong. Tonight it was right.”
Sutter pushed an imaginary laptop keyboard when he said, Take, take, take, take.”
Finally, Sutter concluded: “Finish the deal.”
In other words, win the game.
Jaromir Jagr’s overtime goal propelled the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 victory on Thursday night at Staples Center. The Devils won despite being outshot 35-15 and being outplayed for most of the game. Jagr knew it, his teammates knew it and so did everyone in the arena. The future Hall of Fame forward could only explain it one way after the game, and he had to go back to his childhood to do it.
Said the 41-year-old Jagr: “When I (used) to say, “Hey, dad, we lost the game, but we played good,’ he would reply, ‘You’re not a figure skater, you don’t get points for looking good, you’ve got to score goals.’ So, it makes it even more lucky for us.”
The Kings turned in a lackluster first 40 minutes Thursday, falling behind the New York Islanders by two goals at Uniondale, N.Y., before rallying behind third-period goals from defenseman Slava Voynov and rookie forwards Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli to pull out a 3-2 victory. The Kings have secured three points out of a possible four so far on their four-game trip. Here are three things about the Kings’ victory over the Islanders:
1. Coach Darryl Sutter was forced to ice a lineup that didn’t include forwards Jeff Carter (broken foot), Kyle Clifford (concussion) and Jarret Stoll (upper body), plus defenseman Matt Greene (upper body) and goaltender Jonathan Quick (groin). With the Kings playing as if they were stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway, Sutter turned to Pearson, Toffoli and Linden Vey for some energy in the third period. The coach teamed the three rookies together, hoping their experience as a top line with Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League would aid them. Pearson scored the tying goal and Toffoli supplied the go-ahead score, with only 1 minute, 27 seconds left in the third. So, that worked well. You can expect to see them together again. Often. The Kings’ trip continues with games Friday against the New Jersey Devils and Sunday against the New York Rangers.
2. Ben Scrivens has a chance to show the Kings and their fans that the club didn’t get swindled in the offseason trade that sent backup goalie Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Scrivens and forward Matt Frattin went the other way. Quick is out for up to six weeks because of a groin injury suffered Tuesday in the Kings’ shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres, so Scrivens should have plenty of time to prove his value. Scrivens had 23 saves in the Kings’ come-from-behind victory over the Islanders, keeping them within striking distance while they were outplayed during the first two periods. Martin Jones will serve as his backup for the time being.
3. Slava Voynov continues to impress and amaze. He kick-started the Kings’ comeback with a goal from a sharp angle off a pass from below the goal line by Anze Kopitar. There’s more to the young defenseman’s game than scoring, though. The puck seemed to be following him around the ice in the third period, when the Kings wrestled control of the game from the Islanders. Voynov isn’t the biggest player in the Kings’ defense corps. He’s not their best puckhandler. He’s certainly not their most experienced player. He continues to make smart plays that help the Kings win games, however. It happens at both ends of the ice, too. He’s not a one-trick pony, which is why his value to the Kings will only increase as he logs more and more ice time. He’s trending in the right direction, in other words.