L.A. Kings best players aren’t their best producers in road games

Not to pick on Jeff Carter, because he’s only one of many of the Kings’ top producers who are struggling on the road. But the numbers simply don’t add up for a number of the Kings’ best offensive players. Carter has scored 12 of his 14 goals and recorded 17 of his 22 assists at Staples Center, for instance. The home vs. road disparity is widespread, however. It helps to explains the Kings’ 5-12-6 road mark. Here’s a look at the Kings’ top scorers’ road woes:

Anze Kopitar, 11 goals, 28 assists overall; 2 goals, 6 assists on the road.

Carter: 14 goals, 22 assists overall; 2 goals, five assists on the road.

Drew Doughty: 4 goals, 26 assists overall; 4 goals, 10 assists on the road.

Marian Gaborik: 16 goals, 13 assists overall; 6 goals, 4 assists on the road.

Tyler Toffoli: 13 goals, 16 assists overall; 4 goals, 4 assists on the road.

Justin Williams 13 goals, 12 assists overall; 7 goals, 5 assists on the road.

Also: Carter has a plus/minus rating of minus-12 on the road and Kopitar has a minus-14 on the road.

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One more thing about the L.A. Kings victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Kings got back to their grinding defensive style of play during a 2-0 victory Monday over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Staples Center. No more running-and-gunning for the Kings, who played the sort of style that carried them to Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and ’14 but was absent during a three-game losing streak.

“We are a physical team,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “That’s how we wear other teams down. We get in on the forecheck. When they’re in our ‘D-zone’ we make it miserable for them to be down there. We did a better job of that tonight, but I think that we still have some room for improvement.”

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L.A. Kings’ Doughty, Kopitar, Pearson selected to All-Star Game

The Kings will be well-represented at the Jan. 25 All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio. Joining coach Darryl Sutter and his staff will be defenseman Drew Doughty, center Anze Kopitar and winger Tanner Pearson.

Doughty made the team for the first time in his seven-year career, a mind-boggling fact given his remarkable play the last few seasons. But there was no game last season because of the Sochi Olympics and it was not played in 2012-13 because of the lockout.

Kopitar was selected despite some subpar statistics in the first half of the season. He was the Kings’ leader with 29 goals and 70 points last season, but had only eight goals and 30 points in the first 41 games of 2014-15.

Pearson was selected as one of six rookies to make the teams. He had 12 goals, tied with Marian Gaborik and Tyler Toffoli for the team lead, plus four assists going into the Kings’ game Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

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One thing about the L.A. Kings victory over the Sharks

Sometimes special teams really are special. The Kings’ 3-1 victory Saturday over the San Jose Sharks was only the latest case in point. The Kings scored twice on their power play and blanked the Sharks on two chances on theirs. Each team scored once while skating at even strength, so …

The Kings ran their streak of scoring two or more man-advantage goals to four consecutive games, the first time that’s happened since March 1993, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. The Kings have at least one power-play goal in five consecutive games, which isn’t bad for a team with a notoriously wonky power-play unit. The Kings’ power play is now clicking at a brisk 20.6 percent.

“I think finally pucks are going in for us,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “I don’t think we weren’t generating chances in the past. I think we were always generating. We have so much firepower on our power-play unit. It’s got to score more goals obviously, and the last three games or so we’ve gotten one in every game. So, it’s coming together. It’s just getting pucks in the net. We’re going to create opportunities. We know that. We just need to bear down and put them in.”



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L.A. Kings defenseman Slava Voynov neither out of sight nor out of mind

Kings defenseman Slava Voynov will stand trial in domestic violence charges.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Kings defenseman Slava Voynov will stand trial in domestic violence charges. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)


Kings defenseman Slava Voynov is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday in Torrance on charges of domestic violence stemming from an Oct. 19 incident at his Redondo Beach home. Voynov was suspended indefinitely with pay by the NHL on Oct. 20. He is free to skate on his own and use the Kings’ training facility in El Segundo. He is able to speak with teammates and the coaching staff as they pass in the hallway and the locker room.

It’s safe to say the Kings miss the 24-year-old Russian on the ice. He is certainly not out of sight or out of mind, as far as the KIngs are concerned.

“I don’t see how we couldn’t miss Slava,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said after the team’s morning skate Saturday. “Slava is ne of the best defensemen on our team and in our conference. He’s a great player. Obviously, we miss him a little bit, but I think other guys have done a great job of stepping up and not trying to replace him but playing in his spot for right now. Guys have done good job.

“I think our ‘D’ corps has played pretty solid this year. We’ve had our ups and downs, but so has our whole team.”


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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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