From the now it can be told dept: defenseman Drew Doughty said he lobbied Kings coach Darryl Sutter to join a shootout, but his plea fell on deaf ears until Tuesday. Sutter finally gave Doughty a chance as the fifth shooter in an nine-round shootout decided by the Kings’ Dwight King. Doughty’s try was saved by the Ducks’ Jonas Hiller, but he was happy with his effort.
Here’s what 22-year-old rookie Tyler Toffoli had to say after scoring two goals and adding an assist in the KIngs’ 5-1 victory Saturday over the Vancouver Canucks:
“It was good. We wanted to have a really solid game. Tonight was was good night. I tried to get open and tried to rip it and (Mike Richards) made two unbelievable passes to me tonight. I think it’s the same as last time (after being called up last season). I’m trying to earn my spot on the team. I’m trying to stay in the lineup. We’ll see how things go. It sucks (being one of the last cuts coming out of training camp). You don’t want to be playing in the American Hockey League. You want to be playing in the NHL. I went down there and it took a little time to adjust to hockey again, I guess. I just started heating up again.”
Here’s what 22-year-old rookie forward Linden Vey had to say after setting up Jordan Nolan for the Kings’ first goal of the game, and his first NHL point, Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks:
“After every shift and every game I feel a lot better. it’s good to get the win, especially with the rivalry between the two teams the last couple of years. It was an intense game and it’s good to come out with the win. You can just feel the intensity in the arena, the atmosphere and the fans were great tonight. It was good to get the win and it’s kind of a little bit of a coincidence, two games under your belt and two wins. So, it’s good to start off well like that.”
The Kings’ future was on display Thursday.
After he watched the Kings give up two power-play goals in the first period Saturday against the Nashville Predators, after he saw their penalty-killing unit surrender at least one goal for the six consecutive game, coach Darryl Sutter decided to say something.
After a four-game stretch in which the Kings did not give up a power-play goal, they’ve hit a skid that dropped them into 22nd place in the NHL, as of Wednesday morning. They are 50 of 63 on the penalty-kill for a rather pedestrian 79.4 percent success rate after 15 games. They have given up at least one power-play in six consecutive games going into Thursday’s contest against the Buffalo Sabres.
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.
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.
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.