L.A. Kings post noteworthy numbers in wake of victory over Senators

The Kings’ scoring struggles are nothing new. They had one goal in two games plus one period before taking the ice to start the second Thursday in Ottawa. Then erupted for three in the final period, breaking a 2-2 tie with the Senators and holding on for a 5-3 victory. The Kings improved to 12-2-1 in their last 15 games with Ottawa, dating to Jan. 16, 2001. They also have won four in a row over the Sens.

Defenseman Jake Muzzin tied a career high with three assists.

Trevor Lewis scored the game-winning goal, his first GWG since last March 22.

Drew Doughty had two assists for his third multi-point game of the season.

(Thanks to the NHL’s crack stat crew for the facts and figures).

 

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L.A. Kings hit road and then the road hits back … and not for the first time

The Kings fell to 3-5-4 away from Staples Center after a 1-0 loss Tuesday to the Buffalo Sabres, the first game on a five-game trip. Last season, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar and the rest of the Kings were the kings of the road during the playoffs. They won Game 7s in San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago en route to their second Stanley Cup championship in three years.

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L.A. Kings ranked eighth in Forbes.com list of NHL’s most valuable franchises

Winning two Stanley Cups in three seasons has its rewards. Well, that plus owning and operating a lucrative arena in downtown Los Angeles has Forbes.com ranking the Kings as the eighth-most valuable team in the NHL.The Kings’ estimated value of $580 million ranked well behind the Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.3 billion), the New York Rangers ($1.1 billion) and the Montreal Canadiens ($1 billion), the first time three NHL teams have been valued at more than $1 billion.

The Kings were just behind the Philadelphia Flyers ($625 million) and just ahead of the Detroit Red Wings ($570 million). The San Jose Sharks ($425 million) and the Ducks ($365 million) ranked 14th and 18th, giving California three teams in the top 20. The Florida Panthers were 30th and last with a value of $190 million.

The Kings’ overall value grew by 29 percent from 2013, according to Forbes.

Here’s the link to the Forbes.com story: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2014/11/25/the-most-valuable-teams-in-the-nhl/

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Looking ahead to the Kings game Tuesday against the Nashville Predators

Here are a few things to watch when the Kings face the Predators in Nashville:

The Kings’ three-game trip continues with a stop in Nashville to play the rejuvenated Predators (13-5-2). The Kings are 11-6-4 overall, but only 1-4-3 away from the cavernous confines of Staples Center. They began their trip by falling behind the Dallas Stars by three goals en route to a 5-4 loss Saturday

Kings coach Darryl Sutter continues to overplay defenseman Drew Doughty, who was on the ice for a career-high 33 minutes, 7 seconds Saturday. Injuries and the indefinite suspension of Slava Voynov have left the Kings shorthanded on the blue line. Sutter would prefer to play Doughty less and has acknowledged the harm in overworking him.

The Kings received salary-cap relief from the NHL last week in the Voynov case, but haven’t exercised their flexibility to recall anyone from Manchester (N.H.) of the AHL. Alec Martinez has been skating, but it’s uncertain when he’ll be sound enough to play after he underwent finger surgery.

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Three things about the L.A. Kings victory over the Carolina Hurricanes

Here are the top few paragraphs of my game story:

Tanner Pearson chipped the icicles off his hockey stick Thursday at Staples Center. The rookie left wing ended an 11-game goal-scoring drought with a deft swat of the puck that propelled the Kings to a grinding 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

So great was Pearson’s slump that he went from playing on the Kings’ most effective line, to sitting on the bench and watching for extended stretches, to nearly sitting in the press box and eating popcorn by the fistful as his teammates faced the Hurricanes.

It’s often that way with gifted young players, with their production ebbing and flowing. Kings coach Darryl Sutter hinted that a night in the rafters might not be such a bad thing, although he didn’t mention the 22-year-old Pearson by name.

Sutter didn’t pull the trigger Thursday, but Pearson did. Pearson’s goal gave the Kings a 3-2 lead only minutes into the second period and they held it the rest of the way against the Hurricanes. The Kings’ victory was their third in a row after a two-game losing streak.

Here are three things about the Kings’ latest victory:

First, Pearson’s slumps will be fewer and farer (is that a word?) between as he matures and gains experience. He was doing all the right things of late, but the puck wasn’t going into the net for him. He solved it by charging to the net and smacking a loose puck into it. Smart play by a gifted player who realizes that not all the goals are going to be masterpieces.Gritty goals count just as much as pretty ones.

Second, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty played 25:10 against Carolina, ending his streak of 30-minute games at four in a row. Injuries and the suspension to Slava Voynov have wreaked havoc with Sutter’s defense pairs and Doughty has been overplayed to the extreme at times. Sutter has acknowledged the disservice it’s done to Doughty and to the Kings. But what else can he do? Voynov won’t be back any time soon after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday it would charge Voynov in a domestic violence case. Alec Martinez is expected back within a week or so after undergoing minor surgery on a finger. But the numbers are thin for Sutter, so expect Doughty to keep playing big minutes.

Third, the Kings’ power play, once a hindrance, is now a help. The Kings went 1 for 3 with the man advantage against the Hurricanes, which came one game after they clicked on 3 of 6 chances Tuesday against the Florida Panthers and two games after they were 2 of 3 on Saturday against the Ducks. The Kings went through a 1-for-27 slump over nine games and it appeared their power play was a lost cause. But that’s no longer the case if recent games are an indication. That’s a very big deal for a team that often struggles to score while skating 5 on 5.

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Behind-the-scenes look at the L.A. Kings set to air on EPIX starting Feb. 3

The Kings and Sharks will play outdoors in Santa Clara on Feb. 25. The Kings and Ducks played last season at Dodger Stadium.

The Kings and Sharks will play outdoors in Santa Clara on Feb. 25. The Kings and Ducks played last season at Dodger Stadium.

The HBO 24/7 series leading up to various outdoor games over the years is dead. It’s been replaced by a similar venture to air on a relatively new cable outlet called EPIX. The concept is the same, with the network giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the Kings and the San Jose Sharks leading up to their outdoor game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Feb. 21.

The first episode will air Feb. 3 at 7 p.m., with additional episodes airing on subsequent Tuesdays and finishing with a wrapup of the game Feb. 24.

Check out the network’s website: EPIX.com

More information is there and at NHL.com.

The Kings have gone through this one before, leading up to their game against the Ducks at Dodger Stadium last Jan. 25. Who can forget a mic’d up Drew Doughty telling the Ducks’ Patrick Maroon, “You suck at hockey”?

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Kings defenseman Drew Doughty playing big minutes for shorthanded team

As a result of the Kings’ injuries, defenseman Drew Doughty’s ice time has grown to an average of 28 minutes, 37 seconds per game, the second-highest in the league behind the 29:08 played per contest by Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. Doughty averaged 25:42 last season, seventh overall.

“He’s been playing a lot of minutes,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Dallas Stars. “Do we like that? No, but that’s where we’re at. I look at that all the time, too. It’s too many minutes. He’s going to tell you he’s fine, but over the long haul, that’s too many.”

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Three things about the L.A. Kings wild and crazy shootout loss to the Ducks

Here are the first few paragraphs of my recap:

It was fast and frantic and full of unpredictable twists and turns. The Ducks and Kings rocketed around the Honda Center ice Wednesday in their first Freeway Series game of the season. No play could be taken for granted, and certainly no lead was safe.

When it was done, the Ducks took a 6-5 shootout victory from the Kings in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 17,245 in a game that felt more like it should have been played in the glare of the playoffs rather than in the uncertain weeks of the fall.

Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Kesler scored in the shootout for the NHL-leading Ducks (11-3-3) and backup goaltender Jason LaBarbera stopped Anze Kopitar after Marian Gaborik scored and Jeff Carter misfired for the Kings (8-4-4).

Here are three more things about the Kings’ loss:

First, two-goal leads are usually money in the bank for Jonathan Quick and the Kings. Not Wednesday. The Kings led by scores of 3-1 and 5-3, but couldn’t prevent the Ducks from rallying to force the game to overtime and then a shootout. Said defenseman Drew Doughty: “We always feel good with the lead. We have ‘Quickie’ back there. We have, I think, one of the best defense corps in the whole league and all of our forwards play pretty good ‘D’ as well. Whenever we have that two goal lead we definitely feel secure.”

Second, Quick was superb in goal for the Kings. That’s never a surprise anymore, but he was under siege for most of the night, facing 49 shots from the Ducks. Quick needed to make several jaw-dropping saves just to keep the Kings in front in the early going, and then again in the middle of the game. The Ducks poured on the pressure late and there was no chance Quick could work miracles. He needed more help than he got from his teammates.

Third, the Ducks beat the Kings at their own (winning) game. The Ducks possessed the puck for extended stretches and controlled the play. They never led during regulation play or overtime, but they played the right way. You know, the way the Kings play. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The Ducks spent the offseason remaking their roster in order to be more like the Kings, who won Stanley Cup championships in two of the last three seasons. The question is how do the Kings counter the Ducks’ moves? Saturday’s rematch at Staples Center should be fun. Again.

 

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Three things about the L.A. Kings rout of the Vancouver Canucks

Here are the first few paragraphs of Saturday night’s recap:

Marian Gaborik scored his long-awaited, much-anticipated first goal of the season a little less than 10 minutes into the Kings’ 5-1 victory Saturday over the Vancouver Canucks. Then Jake Muzzin scored his first about five minutes later. Then Anze Kopitar scored his third about four minutes later.

In the end, the lifeless Canucks were a cure for what ailed the shorthanded Kings.

Robyn Regehr couldn’t play because of an injury suffered in Friday’s practice. Slava Voynov was banned for the ninth consecutive game, serving an indefinite suspension imposed by the NHL after his arrest on domestic violence charges last month in Redondo Beach.

Since salary-cap issues made it impossible for the Kings to seek replacements for Regehr and Voynov from their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., they were forced to dress only five defensemen for Saturday’s Pacific Division showdown with the Canucks.

Here are three additional things that stood out:

First, Gaborik’s goal was the first hint of his presence this season. Is that too harsh? Well, he was the Kings’ leading goal-scorer with 14 during their charge to the Stanley Cup championship last spring. He was the key piece to their postseason offensive surge, too. He has been injured for all but seven of their 15 games after signing a mammoth seven-year, $34-million contract to stay in Los Angeles. All things to consider when assessing his lack of production to start this season.

Second, Drew Doughty’s minutes have increased because of the Kings’ lack of healthy and eligible bodies in their defense corps. He played 29:46 Saturday against the Canucks. That’s a ton, especially this early in the season.

Third, the Canucks were surprising pushovers in their first visit to Staples Center this season. They didn’t score only Chris Higgins ended Jonathan Quick’s shutout bid with a goal at 12:07 of the final period. The Kings built a five-goal lead before Higgins struck on a centering pass from former L.A. forward Linden Vey. In the end, it was a disappointing showing by the surprising Canucks (10-5-0).

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