Kings general manager Dean Lombardi continued to reward his players with contract extensions. Tuesday, he inked Jordan Nolan to a three-season deal with an AAV of $950,000. Nolan, a 25-year-old forward, has only 24 points in 170 career games in the NHL. He was a member of the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship teams in 2012 and ’14, however. Lombardi has been generous in giving extensions to his players, with Marian Gaborik receiving a new seven-year deal and Matt Greene getting a four-year contract during the last offseason.
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick was 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage in three victories last week, earning the NHL’s first star honors. He made 31 saves in the Kings’ victory Saturday over the San Jose Sharks in the Stadium Series game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The Kings (28-18-12, third in the Pacific) have won seven consecutive games and moved into a playoff position. Improved goaltending and defensive play have been the keys to the Kings’ surge. Quick’s goals-against average during the streak is 1.86 and his save percentage is .934. Overall, he is 24-15-10 with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in 50 games.
Here’s what Kings captain Dustin Brown had to say after playing in a second Stadium Series game in as many seasons: “Two is enough for me. It’s a lot of buildup and there’s a lot that goes into it. It’s an exciting game, but I think our personality, with the group of guys in here, we’re pretty low key and this is the other end of the spectrum.”
The Kings’ Drew Doughty played 32 minutes, 1 second during their 2-1 victory in a Stadium Series game Saturday at Levi’s Stadium, a record for the most minutes in an outdoor game. It’s likely to last only as long as it’ll take for Ryan Suter to make his outdoor debut next season for the Minnesota Wild.
Here’s what Kings forward Marian Gaborik said about adjusting his style of play to fit his more defensive-oriented teammates: “Yeah, I had to adjust a little bit, to buy into the system, play on the right side of the puck and make sure to play in the game and do my responsibilities as well. So, I think we’re rolling very good as a team right now, and I just have to keep it up.”
Here’s what Kings captain Dustin Brown said about Gaborik’s play: “I think we all understand what he was brought here to do, and that’s score big goals, and that’s what we expect of him. It’s the time when he’s not scoring big goals that we need him to play Kings hockey and tonight he came through for us huge. … I think it’s a work in progress.”
The Kings’ Marian Gaborik scored the winning goal in their 2-1 victory Saturday over the San Jose Sharks. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and not only because of the way he ripped his shot past the Sharks’ Antti Niemi and into the net in the opening minutes of the third period. Gabork has been something of a forgotten man this season, after leading the Kings in goals during the playoffs last spring.
“He’s pretty quiet, he’s pretty quiet, and then he has a goal like that,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said of Gaborik, who scored his 17th of the season. “That’s the type of game-breaker he is.”
The San Jose Sharks shifted their operations 10 miles and two freeways from their home base at SAP Center in downtown San Jose, relocating to the home of the San Francisco 49ers in nearby Santa Clara for Saturday’s Stadium Series game against the Kings. It wasn’t the easiest of transitions for Justin Braun, however.
“Finding the bathroom is a little difficult,” a smiling Braun said after Friday’s practice. “It’s way over there. I walked through about seven doors before I found it. You’re just not in the same routine, but this day is good. You kind of get used to everything.
“Right way, by the time of warmups kicks in, maybe the anthem, you give it a quick look around, but other than that, and you’re ready to go. You show up and work the same way. The ice is the same. The dimensions are the same. You’ve just got to go out and block everything else out.”
Tomorrow’s advance tonight …
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — No one will ever confuse ancient, historic Dodger Stadium with sparkling, new Levi’s Stadium. After all, one is the Dodgers’ iconic ballpark, the other is the new high-tech home field of football’s San Francisco 49ers.
The Kings experienced many of the same sights and sounds Friday in the Bay Area as they did more than a year ago in Chavez Ravine. Their practice in preparation for Saturday night’s Stadium Series game against the San Jose Sharks was similar, but hardly the same, though.
“I think last year was significantly different from this year,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “We were playing in an historic building last year. This is a new building. Everything other than that was different. I thought it was pretty unique last year to be able to do it.”
To do it again, as the reigning Stanley Cup champions, is different, too.
“For a lot of guys, it’s never going to happen again,” Sutter said.
Last season, a roller rink, a beach volleyball court and kids on skateboards and wearing roller blades surrounded the ice at Dodger Stadium. This season, twin water features, plus fake green rolling hills and gray mountains adorned the area around the midfield rink.
Kiss played last season between periods. John Fogerty and Melissa Etheridge will headline tonight’s show. Temperatures on Jan. 25, 2014, were in the low 60s for the opening faceoff. The temperature is forecast to be an equally comfortable 57 degrees.
“I’d like to play a game in the snow, sure,” Sutter said. “Everybody thinks everybody has played outdoors. Not everybody has. Guys are too young. They might have skated outdoors, but very few have played outdoors other than last year.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter definitely has his likes and dislikes. When asked about John Fogerty performing during the intermission of the Stadium Series game Saturday against the San Jose Sharks, Sutter said he had his own preference.
“Johnny Cash,” Sutter said.
Cash is no longer with us, sadly, as reporters pointed out to Sutter.