It’s been quite a week for Nic Dowd, a 23-year-old senior forward from St. Cloud (Minn.) State. On Tuesday, he signed a one-season entry-level contract with the Kings. On Wednesday, he was named one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, college hockey’s version of the Heisman Trophy. Dowd had 40 points, including 22 goals, in 38 games this past season with St. Cloud State.
Greg Carey, senior forward from St. Lawrence University, and Johnny Gaudreau, junior forward from Boston College, are the other finalists. The winner will be announced in a ceremony April 11 from Philadelphia.
Regulation, overtime or shootout, it doesn’t matter. All the Kings need to do is defeat the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday at Staples Center and they’re in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. The Kings have reached the Western Conference finals, won the Stanley Cup and been eliminated in the first round twice in their last four trips to the postseason.
If they don’t win Wednesday … Well, they have five regular-season games remaining after facing the Coyotes. They’re away to San Jose on Thursday, away to Vancouver on Saturday, away to Calgary on April 9 and away to Edmonton on the 10th. Their season finale is a home date with the Ducks on April 12.
The Kings on Tuesday signed prospects Nic Dowd and Michael Mersch, two forwards who played collegiate hockey this past season. Dowd, a 23-year-old who signed a one-season entry-level contract, completed his fourth season at St. Cloud (Minn.) State. He had 40 points, including 22 goals, in 38 games. Mersch, a 21-year-old who signed a three-season entry-level deal, finished his fourth season at Wisconsin. He recorded 35 points, including 22 goals, in 37 games.
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter had to say after the Minnesota Wild rallied in the third period for a 3-2 victory Monday night: “We were better in the third (period) than we were in the first. We turned a lot of pucks over in the neutral zone. It had nothing to do with the third period, it was all the first period.”
Sure, the Kings held a 1-0 lead in the first period and were outscored 2-0 in the third, but Sutter didn’t like the way their sloppy play led to chances for the Wild in the opening 20 minutes. He also didn’t like how that set the tone for what followed. He wasn’t happy with the final result, but the game wasn’t won or lost in the third.
That was his story and he was sticking to it Monday.
The Minnesota Wild’s Matt Moulson and the Kings’ Jonathan Quick are married to sisters, so things might get a little interesting around the holidays when the subject of Monday’s game comes up. Moulson scored the tying goal for the Wild, who went on to defeat Quick and the Kings 3-2, ending their six-game winning streak.
Bragging rights? Yeah, well, maybe not so much, according to Moulson.
“It’s always good to score a goal,” said Moulson, a former teammate of Quick’s with the Kings. “He’s stopped me a lot more than I have scored on him and he also has a couple of trophies that I don’t have, so I don’t think I can do too much bragging.”
Moulson referred to the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy that Quick won with the Kings in 2011-12.
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