Alec Martinez’s overtime goal in Game 7 vs. Chicago, June 1. The Kings would win three consecutive Game 7s on the road, a first in NHL history, with this clearly the closest and most nerve-jangling of the three series-deciders. Martinez’s goal 5 minutes, 47 seconds into sudden-death OT propelled the Kings to their second Stanley Cup Final in three seasons, a shot heard around the hockey universe.
Hecklers are a part of sports, plain and simple. Athletes in all sports and at all levels get an earful whenever and wherever the games are contested. Hockey, despite the glass that separates the players from the spectators, is no exception and sometimes things boil over.
“Some buildings you hear it more than most just because of the way the tunnel is set up,” Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said Wednesday. “You don’t really listen to that stuff. The only time you hear it is when you’re leaving for the period or coming back out. I don’t even pay attention to that stuff.”
Some hecklers are better than others, according to Martinez.
“Depends on the guy. Sometimes you get the big drunk guy who’s slurring his words and you can’t understand him to begin with,” he said after the Kings’ morning skate at the United Center in Chicago. “I’m sure there’s a few funny ones here and there. As as pro athlete, it’s not the first time somebody told me I suck. It comes with the territory. If you’re going to do it, at least try to be original.”
Martinez didn’t know a Kings fan alleged Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford squirted him with a water bottle near the end of Game 4 on Monday at Staples Center until reporters informed him of it Wednesday. Martinez then smiled when told the fan filed a police report.
“Good luck with that,” Martinez joked, laughing along with a couple of reporters. “I guess it’s kind of like the disclaimer that they give (before games) that pucks can leave the ice surface. I guess water and other things can come back … It just comes with the territory.”
Here’s what Darryl Sutter had to say when asked Monday if the Kings’ lacked the same emotion in Game 1 of their series against the Chicago Blackhawks that they showed in victories over the Sharks and Ducks in the first two rounds:
“Yesterday? I thought we played a hell of a game. … There was one scrum. The one scrum there was, if we were moaning about calls today, the one scrum there was that we got called on, too bad they couldn’t review it.”
Sutter referred to the cluster in front of the net of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, which led to Alec Martinez’s shove of the Blackhawks’ Brandon Bollig, which resulted in a roughing penalty and then a power-play goal for Brandon Saad.
Later, Sutter was asked to clarify whether he believed Bollig took a dive.
“No,” Sutter said.
Depth is always a question for the Kings, who rely so heavily on the exceptional playmaking of center Anze Kopitar, who has a playoffs-leading 19 points in 14 games, and winger Marian Gaborik, who has a playoff-leading nine goals. Forward Trevor Lewis and defenseman Alec Martinez have chipped in timely goals, however. The Blackhawks would figure to have an edge in this department. But the Kings continue to impress with their resourceful play during the postseason.
Injuries are a concern for both teams. Defenseman Willie Mitchell did not play in the second round against the Ducks and his participation is uncertain for the series against the Blackhawks, although he has returned to the practice rink. Defenseman Robyn Regehr was injured in Game 1 against the Ducks and his not resumed skating. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville ruled out playing injured forward Andrew Shaw in Game 1, but said he could be back sooner rather than later.
Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin lost an edge, fell down in the corner and lost the puck to Daniel Winnike of the Ducks, who fed it to Nick Bonino, who shot it through a screen set by Drew Doughty and past Jonathan Quick. Doughty and Quick are teammates. That first-period goal was only the first of a string of Kings mistakes that led to Ducks goals. Now, the Kings are on the brink of elimination.
A second-period penalty by Justin Williams, a hooking call roughly 180 feet from his own net, led to a power-play goal for the Ducks’ Devante Smith-Pelly. A poor break-out pass by Alec Martinez ended up on the stick of Ducks’ center Ryan Getzlaf, who slipped it ahead to Smith-Pelly, who beat Jonathan Quick on a breakaway. Another poor clearing pass by the Kings landed on the stick of Andrew Cogliano. Quick stopped his shot from the slot, but Jakob Silfverberg chipped home the rebound.
It was a disastrous second period and the Kings could not rally from 4-1 down. The question is can they rally from a 3-2 deficit in the series? They must clean up their act, which they did in coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the first round against the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks are a different animal, though.
Game 6 is Wednesday at Staples Center.
Kings defenseman Alec Martinez scored a power-play goal in the first period Saturday in Game 1, delivered several punishing checks and made the save of the game when he stuck up his leg to bail out an out-of-position goaltender Jonathan Quick and deny the Ducks’ Corey Perry in the opening minutes of sudden-death OT.
“I guess I channeled my inner goalie, playing in the driveway when I was younger,” a smiling Martinez said. “I just tried to get in front of it. I knew Quick had just made a save and was trying to get over, so I just tried to get down and get in front of it.”
Martinez was asked who is was that he was channeling.
“Growing up in Detroit, I guess Chris Osgood was around,” he said of the former Red Wings netminder, “and Patrick Roy obviously was one of the best.”
Martinez laughed when it was pointed out that he was playing both sides of a very intense rivalry between Osgood of the Red Wings and Roy of the Colorado Avalanche during the mid- to late-1990s.
“I was a kid,” he said. “I had a good excuse.”
Here’s Kings captain Dustin Brown’s reaction to the Stanley Cup playoff-clinching victory Wednesday over the Phoenix Coyotes: “With the evolution of this team, maybe four or five years ago, this was a big deal. Now, it’s just part of the process. It’s good to get it out of the way and get our game going. There’s nothing to celebrate about making the playoffs. It’s not a goal, it’s an expectation.”
The usually empty Kings’ dressing room was emptier than usual after their 4-0 rout of the Coyotes sent them to the postseason for the fifth consecutive season. Brown was the only player at his locker stall when reporters were granted access to the dressing room. Alec Martinez was later summoned from the off-limits area and he spoke along the same lines as Brown, saying it was a bigger deal to play well.
Coach Darryl Sutter shuffled his lines, mixing and matching his players for Wednesday’s practice. Whether he sticks with it is anyone’s guess. He made some significant changes for last week’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a 5-1 loss, but stayed with it for all of one shift. “We’re trying ‘Marty’ on left wing and would like Jeff at center during some practices to stay sharp,” Sutter said, referring to defenseman Alec Martinez and right wing Jeff Carter. “One line was a power-play line, so that’s what you can read into it.”
Kings coac Darryl Sutter made a couple of minor tweaks to the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars at Staples Center, scratching ineffective forward Matt Frattin and defenseman Alec Martinez. Colin Fraser replaced Frattin and Jake Muzzin took Martinez’s spot in the defense crops.
The Kings and defenseman Alec Martinez agreed to a new two-season, $2.2-million contract, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing later this month. The website for the Canadian sports network TSN first reported the agreement late Sunday night. Martinez, 25, played in 27 of 48 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.