Numbers continue to fall against the L.A. Kings

Good morning, Kings. Taken a glance at the NHL standings Wednesday morning? Yes, that’s you in 12th place in the 14-team Western Conference. How did you get there? Look to the right. That 5-11-6 record on the road after Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Capitals in Washington helps to explain your predicament. So does that minus-2 goal differential. Wow, that really is not like you. So does that 2-5-3 record in your last 10 games. At some point, it’s not a trend. It’s who you are.

“We need to get better,” Kings captain Dustin Brown told reporters in Washington on Tuesday. “There’s plenty of time to do what we need to do, but right now it’s in our hands. We still have time to control our destiny. We can’t let it drag on to the point where you have to rely on other teams winning and losing games.”

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L.A. Kings visit White House

One of the many perks of winning a championship is getting to meet the president and visiting the White House. It’s the Kings’ turn Monday after winning the Stanley Cup last June. Actually, they’re there with the MLS Cup champion Galaxy, their AEG brethren. The meet and greet starts at 11 a.m. President Obama will say a few words and joke with Kings coach Darryl Sutter about growing up tough on the Alberta farm and praise captain Dustin Brown, a nice lad from upstate New York. The whole thing will take 15 minutes or so.

We’ll have the transcript here later.

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Dustin Brown says L.A. Kings happy to take ‘step in the right direction’

The Kings' effort and energy, as evidenced by Kyle Clifford's scoring chance, were improved in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The Kings’ effort and energy, as evidenced by Kyle Clifford’s scoring chance, were improved in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)


Tomorrow’s notebook lead today …

The Kings were far from flawless during their 3-2 shootout loss Saturday to the NHL-leading Ducks at Staples Center, but a return to a more disciplined and well-ordered game was “a step in the right direction,” captain Dustin Brown said Sunday.

Brown called the shootout a “crap shoot,” a reference to the Kings’ 1-7 record this season in the skills contest. Kings shooters are a woeful 2 for 28 in eight shootouts, which includes misfires from Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik on Saturday against the Ducks’ Frederik Andersen.

Jakob Silfverberg scored the only goal in the shootout and the Ducks (30-10-6) increased their lead over the Kings (20-14-11) in the Pacific Division to 15 points. Alec Martinez and Kopitar scored in regulation for the Kings. Ryan Getzlaf and Sami Vatanen scored for the Ducks.

The bottom line in a bottom line game is that the Kings’ play was dramatically improved over recent games, including a dreary 5-3 loss Wednesday to the lackluster New Jersey Devils. The Kings were far better defensively and in goal Saturday against the Ducks.

The Kings squandered leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but they didn’t give up goals in bunches, as they did against the Devils, who scored three times in 68 seconds in the second period. The Kings played the Ducks even in special teams, with each team clicking once on the power play.

However, the Kings were outshot 31-28 by the Ducks, the first time they’ve been outshot since Nov. 29, a remarkable run that hasn’t translated into victories. The Kings have lost two in a row and are 3-3-4 in their last 10 games going into Monday night’s home contest against the Calgary Flames.

The Kings awoke Sunday in ninth place in the Western Conference, one spot behind the Flames. Only the top eight teams in each conference advance to the playoffs, and in order to defend their Stanley Cup championship, the Kings must finish in the top eight.

“We played a really good hockey game, but we didn’t close it out coming into the third period,” Gaborik said Saturday after Vatanen, a defenseman, scored a tying power-play goal in the third. “The shootout has been an issue for the whole year.

“The points are getting away from us in the shootout, so we just need to find a way to put some goals in. We’ve been practicing a bit, but we just have to get it done. We have enough talent for the guys to score goals. We just need to get the one win and the confidence level will go up.”


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Team captain Dustin Brown talks about the L.A. Kings play

Here’s what Kings captain Dustin Brown had to say about the team’s play as it nears the midpoint of its Stanley Cup title defense:

“If you look at our game, there’s a lot of peaks and valleys. It’s kind of a catch-22. If we knew exactly why it was happening, it wouldn’t be happening. A lot of it is probably just preparation on an individual level.

“We pay attention to the standings all year. It’s about keeping pace with the herd. We’re right there. We just need to find ways to win games. It’s about our consistency, really. I think if we’re more consistent in our game, the standings, we won’t have to worry about too much.

“Division games are always … look at the game we played (against the Calgary Flames last Monday). People say, ‘Well, you got a point out of it.” But we gave two points away. That’s a four-point game and they got two and we got one.”

The Kings face the Flames on Monday in a rematch in Calgary.

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L.A. Kings quote of the day … or all you really need to know about their state of mind

The Kings held an optional practice Wednesday in El Segundo, a day after their 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues completed their lackluster 1-3-1 trip. Here was the money quote, courtesy team captain Dustin Brown: “If you’re not excited about playing tomorrow after what happened in St. Louis, we have bigger issues.”



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Looking ahead to the L.A. Kings game against the Philadelphia Flyers

Here are three things to know about the Kings’ game Saturday against the Flyers:

First, this is the Kings’ only home game in a stretch of seven contests. They began with a victory Thursday over the Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz., improving their road record to 3-4-4. They are 11-3-1 at Staples Center, however. The Kings depart Monday for a five-game trip to play the Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues. It’s a chance to see if the Kings can make up ground on the road. Or whether they’re just a poor road club.

Second, Kings captain Dustin Brown scored two goals in their 4-0 victory over the Coyotes, his first multiple-goal game of the season. Brown has six goals and 10 points overall this season, including four goals and four assists in his last eight games. He had two goals and zero assists in his first 18 games in 2014-15. So, he’s trending in the right direction after an ineffective start to the season.

Third, the Flyers are a desperate team. They are 8-13-4, including 2-9-2 on the road, after starting their west coast trip with one-goal losses Tuesday to the Sharks in San Jose and Wednesday to the Ducks in Anaheim. They believed they deserved better in each game, but lost twice in heartbreaking fashion.


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Kings coach Darryl Sutter talks about the play of team captain Dustin Brown

Kings captain Dustin Brown scored only his second goal and recorded just his second point in 13 games to start the season when he tallied during Tuesday’s victory over the Dallas Stars. The Kings expect more from him, although coach Darryl Sutter said Thursday he seen some improvement in Brown’s game recently.

“I think the last two or three games we’ve seen a little bit more of Dustin Brown,” Sutter said after the Kings’ morning skate Thursday in El Segundo. “Not because he’s scored, but more of that forceful game that we need out of him. The question gets asked often about Brownie, but Brownie has had success by playing a very certain way. That’s the way he has to play. When he gets away from playing that straight-line game, then he struggles. When he’s on that straight-line game and being a forecheck guy and a penalty-killer for us, then he’s really effective.”

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Kings captain Dustin Brown talks about a lackluster start, middle and finish

Here’s some of what Kings captain Dustin Brown said when asked if the Stanley Cup championship banner ceremony distracted the team during Wednesday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks: “We just didn’t play well. We weren’t very sharp moving the puck, coming out of our zone. It was hard to move it up the ice. We got stuck in our defensive zone. I think we’re just disappointed in the two points we lost.

“That’s what it comes down to, really.”

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Three things about the Kings loss to the Sharks in their season opener

Here are the first few paragraphs from my game story:

“The Kings raised their second championship banner in three seasons to the Staples Center rafters Wednesday night. Team captain Dustin Brown held the Stanley Cup high overhead as a roaring sellout crowd bellowed like it was June 13 all over again.

“Then somebody had to go and spoil a perfectly good party by dropping a puck onto the ice and starting a new season. Then the San Jose Sharks had to go and stick the puck in the back of Jonathan Quick’s net. Again and again and again and again.

“Tommy Wingels scored two goals and the Sharks earned a very small measure of revenge after last season’s playoff ouster at the hands of the Kings, taking a comprehensive 4-0 victory in the regular-season opening game for both teams.”

Here are three impressions about an uneven opening game:

First, the Kings turned in clunkers after each of their championship banner-raising ceremonies. They have been outscored 9-2 in losses to the Sharks on Wednesday and to the Chicago Blackhawks two seasons ago. So, what’s the answer? Not winning a Stanley Cup? Not celebrating it? Maybe the Kings could have the Lakers come in and talk to them about how to handle the distractions of such a ceremony. Then again, there aren’t many (any?) Lakers left who remember what that experience is like.

Second, the Kings have miles to skate before they can even think about recreating their incredible run to the Cup last spring. It was a long, slow process last season and it will be again in 2014-15. Patience is the order of the next few days and weeks, and maybe even months. Fans, players, coaches and reporters must realize it’s a process.

Third, the Sharks are pretty good. They’ve been humiliated by their playoff loss to the Kings last spring and they have plenty to prove this season. Don’t expect them to fold at every opportunity. Their collapse from a 3-0 series lead in the first round last spring was quite a pratfall, one they’ve been reminded of for, oh, probably every day since April.

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Kings questions and answers (part 5, expanded version)

Can the Kings maintain their focus during the regular season?

If the Kings have proved nothing else in recent seasons, it’s that the regular season doesn’t mean a whole lot. After all, they finished third in the Pacific Division and sixth in the Western Conference last season and had home-ice advantage in the playoffs only during their victory over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final. They won three consecutive Game 7s on the road, no small feat. They didn’t seem to mind playing away from home in any circumstance, defying conventional wisdom.

In the end, the Kings won’t be playing for the Presidents Trophy as the team with the best regular-season record. They want to play for the Stanley Cup. The Presidents Trophy takes too much work and is nothing more than a consolation prize teams sell to their season-ticket holders after the club doesn’t win a championship. At least, that’s the Kings’ theory. Team captain Dustin Brown mentioned it recently, and he probably won’t be the last member of the team or the coaching staff to talk about it.


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