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.
Here’s a sneak-peak at what Willie Mitchell said about fighting in today’s NHL …
“You don’t have players who play four or five shifts and just do that now,” Mitchell said of the decline of designated fighters around the league. “Coaches can’t afford that. The game’s too big. The players are too good. You can have a player play a physical game, but also play hockey.
“It’s like anything, it takes time. I think it’s on the right path. It’s a very traditionalist game. I respect tradition. I respect all the guys who played before me and gave me the opportunity to play the game. It’s just the evolution of the game and I think you’re seeing that.”
He might be public enemy No. 1 among the less polished among the Kings fans, who rail profanely at him on his every visit to Staples Center, but Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan knows quite a bit about their favorite team. Here’s what he had to say after the Kings’ 7-4 victory Thursday over the Coyotes: “Getting the quick one on the power play gets them feeling good. You know it was only a matter of time before (Anze) Kopitar and (Mike) Richards got going and once they start feeling good, they’re a pretty good team.”
Kopitar scored a power-play goal in the game’s first minute, his first goal of the season. Richards also scored his first of the seasons. It wasn’t accurate to say the Kings struggled while Kopitar and Richards, the team’s top two centers went without a goal in the season’s first 10 games, It was a head-scratcher, though. Let’s see if the Kings move up the standings in the Pacific Division now that they have broken through with goals.
The call might have seemed questionable to the referees in the Staples Center stands, but Kings center Anze Kopitar didn’t second-guess a hooking call that went against him and yielded the game-winning power-play goal for the Calgary Flames on Monday night.
“We definitely lost the special teams battles,” Kopitar said, referring to the Flames’ three-power play goals during their 3-2 victory. “Usually, when that happens, the outcome is not going to be very good. … We took some bad penalties, including myself. It was a stupid penalty on my part and shouldn’t have happened.”
Right wing Justin Williams talked about it after the Kings’ 5-2 victory Saturday over the Dallas Stars at Staples Center. Defenseman Jake Muzzin addressed it, too. So did defenseman Drew Doughty after he scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the Kings’ fifth victory in their last six games. None of the three needed prompting.
Kings captain Dustin Brown answered a few questions about this and that after Sunday’s practice. Then someone asked about the bulky knee brace he’s been wearing since suffering an injury during the playoffs last spring. Finishing a sports drink, he looked at the brace hanging in his locker stall and then at the trash can where he was about to drop the empty bottle. The implication was clear. He then said of the team’s training staff, “If it were up to me, it would be gone tomorrow (but) they want me to wear it.”
Kings captain Dustin Brown talked about the remarkable sameness of the roster, with only a few tweaks here and there to the team that won the Stanley Cup championship in 2012. Here’s more from the veteran left wing’s question-and-answer session Tuesday:
Dustin Brown missed most of training camp after suffering a hamstring injury on opening day, but he said he’ll be ready for Thursday’s opener at Minnesota. He was asked Tuesday for his keys to starting the regular season out the right way. Here’s his response: “Early on, it’s just about the details of the game. Doing the right thing. Stops and starts. That’s kind of what the preseason is for. It’s different when you’re playing for points. All those little details, the individual game, those little individual things make for a better team game.”
Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin didn’t have a chance to break into the lineup slowly. He was tossed in there because of injuries and, in time, it was clear that he belonged. He said he learned a great deal from the Kings’ veteran group of defensemen, including Matt Greene. Muzzin took Greene’s spot in the lineup for the better part of the regular season, and Greene acted as a mentor while recovering from back surgery. Said Muzzin: