As expected, the NHL and the players union reached an agreement with the IIHF on Friday morning to send players to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The NHL will take a break from Feb. 9 to Feb. 26. The Olympic tournament will be held Feb. 12-23.
The NHL announced its season-ending first- and second-team All-Stars.
Goalie: Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus.
Defense: P.K. Subban, Montreal, Ryan Suter, Minnesota.
Center: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh.
Right wing: Alex Ovechkin, Washington.
Left wing: Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh.
Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist, N.Y. Rangers.
Defense: Francois Beauchemin, Anaheim, Kris Letang, Pittsburgh.
Center: Jonathan Toews, Chicago.
Right wing: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay.
Left wing: Alex Ovechkin, Washington.
That’s right, Ovechkin made the first and the second team at different positions. As one of my colleagues noted on Twitter, “Ovechkin’s all over the ice.” The Kings’ Drew Doughty (ninth among defensemen), Slava Voynov (23rd among defensemen), Anze Kopitar (tied for 11th among centers) and Jeff Carter (tied for 11th among right wings) also received votes from members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. I’m a member, but I voted for Ovechkin at right wing, which was where he played this past season for the Capitals. Others voted for him at left wing, where’s he’s played in the past.
Here’s the second installment of Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s post-season meeting with reporters, two days after the team was eliminated from the Western Conference finals by the Chicago Blackhawks:
Question: It seems this was a tougher coaching job for you this year because you didn’t have the consistency of the lineup, you started out without Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene …
Answer: “I think if we go down the league, every coach will say that through a 48-game schedule. It’s something I’ve done before, so you have some familiarity with it. Whether it helps or not, I don’t know. But at least you’re familiar with it. Was it tougher? Sure, it was tougher, because … Our players were awesome. There was no hangover. There was only positives taken from it. Obviously, the only negative from a short summer last year was the guys didn’t start the year. Greene, Mitchell, (Anze) Kopitar and, quite honestly, Jonathan (Quick) until probably January or February.”
Drew Doughty of the Kings, whose role was expanded greatly during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, finished ninth in voting for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens was the winner, with Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild second and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins third. Doughty played in all manner of roles this past season and teamed with Robyn Regehr to form the Kings’ shutdown pair for the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs.
Tomorrow’s game story tonight …
The Kings’ reign as Stanley Cup champions didn’t end with a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. But you certainly could see the finish line from where they teetered Thursday night at Staples Center.
Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr didn’t hesitate when asked Thursday to compare current partner Drew Doughty with anyone he’s played with in the past. Regehr praised Doughty’s all-around game by comparing him to Scott Niedermayer, the now retired former Duck and New Jersey Devil.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said Wednesday he believes goaltender Jonathan Quick is making more remarkable saves than he did last year in the playoffs, when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the postseason. Here’s more from Doughty:
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture grew up together and played hockey with and against each other in London, Ontario. They remained friends and foes going into Game 1 of the second-round playoff series.
The Kings proved last spring home-ice advantage means nothing in the playoffs, becoming the first eighth-seeded team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup. They didn’t have home-ice advantage for any of the four rounds of the playoffs. That doesn’t mean they want or expect a repeat this spring, according to defenseman Drew Doughty.
“Even though we didn’t need it last year, it’s definitely very important and something that our team really wants,” he said. “The coaches have been harping on us to get that home-ice spot. We kind of blew it the last two games … but we still have a shot at it. We want it. To be able to sleep in your own bed, to be able to be in front of our home fans … it’s hard to go into another team’s barn when the crowd’s going nuts for them and you’ve got to try and steal the first win. But if you’re at home, not that it’s easier, but it’s more comforting.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets weren’t happy to see their five-game winning streak end with a 2-1 loss to the Kings on Thursday night at Staples Center. The Kings weren’t thrilled with the end of the game, when the Blue Jackets’ Brandon Dubinsky took what they believed to be a few liberties with defenseman Drew Doughty after the final buzzer. TV replays indicated Doughty initiated the confrontation with a punch as Dubinsky had his back turned. Dubinsky then threw a series of punches at Doughty, drawing a match penalty.
“Just a cheap shot, and that’s his personality” Kings enforcer Kyle Clifford said of Dubinsky’s actions. “We’ve got guys out there and he goes after Doughty, who’s not our toughest player, not the smartest thing. But we got the win.”