A look inside the Kings drought emergency (part 2)

When you look at the individual numbers, the facts are worse. The Kings’ leading scorer, Anze Kopitar, ranks only 34th in the NHL with 47 points (17 goals, 30 assists). Their leading goal-scorer, Jeff Carter, also ranks only 34th in the league with 20 goals. Kopitar is 56th with 17 goals. The Kings have only six players on their roster with 10 goals or more and only Carter and Kopitar have 15 or more.

Further, some of their best players have been mired in prolonged slumps. Mike Richards’ skid has received perhaps the most attention, but he’s not alone and he’s not the driest player on the roster. Richards’ last goal was Jan. 18 against Detroit. He has only two goals since Nov. 25. Overall, he has seven goals and 36 points.

Dustin Brown, the Kings’ team captain, hasn’t scored since Jan. 13. He has one point on the road this season, a goal against the Ducks on Dec. 13. Overall, he has 10 goals and 16 points. Justin Williams’ last goal was Jan. 9 against Boston. He has 14 goals and 29 points.

 

 

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Sochi Olympics musings (U.S. vs. Canada)

It’s their game, sure. Canada invented hockey. We get that down here in the United States. It’s their game, their national past-time, their pride and joy. Their sons (and daughters, too) dream of playing for the glory that comes with an Olympic gold medal or a Stanley Cup championship. It’s a sport that defines and unites a nation.

It’s our game, too. Maybe not in the same exact way, but in similar ones.

You’ll see that when the U.S. and Canada play in the semifinals of the Sochi Olympics on Friday at 9 a.m. (PST). You’ll see it in the passion and the hard work and the precision each team displays. In many regards, it will be like watching brothers, and maybe that’s because there are so many NHL brothers fighting for a berth in Sunday’s gold-medal game against either Finland or Sweden.

Team USA’s Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick will be trying to deliver a payback to Canada’s Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty for a loss four years ago in Vancouver. The Ducks’ Cam Fowler of the U,S. will be trying to stop Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and keep them from a second consecutive gold medal. Team USA coach Dan Bylsma will be trying to find ways to neutralize Sidney Crosby of Canada, his best player when they’re both on the job with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And so on and so on.

This is the game they’ll all be chirping about next week, when they return to their respective NHL dressing rooms. It might take more than a few nights of dinner and drinks to bury the hatchets. It might take a few games before their NHL teams are all reunited and feeling so good again. It’s going to be that kind of game Friday.

Sure, this is a game Canada is supposed to win. It is their game. It’s not a game the U.S. can’t win, however. Hockey isn’t an American game the way baseball or football or basketball is. We don’t celebrate Saturday nights at the rink quite the way they do. But we have something of a shared history in the game of hockey, especially internationally and particularly in the way we play the game. Our capacity to defy the odds with our ability to achieve the unthinkable is a shared trait, and a noble one at that. We admire their will to win and they should admire ours, too.

Every Canadian of a certain age can tell you where he or she was when Paul Henderson clinched the 1972 Summit Series victory over the Soviet Union just as every American hockey fan can say where they were when Mike Eruzione scored the go-ahead goal against the Soviets in 1980 in the “Miracle on Ice.”

I remember both moments like they were yesterday, but especially the Americans’ improbable victory, I remember driving to varsity basketball practice when a man on the radio suddenly shouted, “The United States has beaten the Russians 4-3 at Lake Placid.” I pulled to the side of the street and began screaming and honking the horn. It was incredible. It was unbelievable. I was lost in my own little world until I looked across the street and saw a man, screaming and honking his own car horn. We noticed each other and screamed and honked in a shared celebration.

ABC’s Channel 7 wouldn’t air the tape-delayed game for a few more hours in Los Angeles, but the man in the other car and I already believed in miracles.

So, here’s hoping for that kind of Henderson/Eruzione drama Friday.

It’s something we can all appreciate, Canadians and Americans.

Because it’s a game for all of us.

 

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Sochi Olympics musings (Day 5)

Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs had a hat trick in Team USA’s 5-1 rout of Slovenia in its final preliminary-round game. Slovenia played the third period without center Anze Kopitar of the Kings, who fell ill and was sent to a medical clinic. Kopitar was released later in the day and expected to be fit to play in the next round. Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres made 17 saves and came within 18 seconds of a shutout while starting in place of the Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

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Sochi Olympics musings (Day 3)

Canada did the expected and routed Austria 6-0 on Friday, one day after turning in a jittery 3-1 victory over Norway. Kings forward Jeff Carter scored three goals, a natural hat trick, for Team Canada. Not a big surprise since Carter is one of Canada’s top goal scorers. I guess the surprise was Carter actually stopped to talk to reporters after the game. Here’s what he said of his hat trick: “I didn’t really have to shoot many of them — or any of them. I just drove the net on basically all of them. It’s a good sign if you’re getting offense like that.”

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Jeff Carter reaches a milestone with his 600th game in the NHL

It’s a nice round number, although ultimately not all that special in the grand scheme of things, but Jeff Carter on Saturday played in his 600th NHL game. It also was his 100th game with the Kings, who acquired him in a Feb. 23, 2012 that sent defenseman Jack Johnson to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carter won 12 of 15 faceoffs, but did not have a goal or an assist in the Kings’ 3-1 loss Saturday to the Detroit Red Wings. He also had five shots on net.

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Kings score four goals, but their offensive depth is a glaring weakness

The Kings scored four times in their 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins, the most they’ve scored since beating the San Jose Sharks 4-1 on Dec. 19. Jeff Carter, Justin Williams, Alec Martinez and Dustin Brown scored for the Kings. Martinez became the first Kings defenseman to score a goal since he had the first one during their aforementioned win over the Sharks, ending an eight-game streak.

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Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty named to Team Canada for Sochi Olympics

After a long and windy press conference Tuesday in Toronto, Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman nervously announced the 25-man roster for the Sochi Olympics. Kings forward Jeff Carter and defenseman Drew Doughty were among the names selected for the team that will defending the gold medal won in Vancouver in 2010. Carter’s selection was a mild surprise, given that he missed a good chunk of games because of a broken foot. Doughty’s was a no-brainer.

Carter played for Canada at the World Junior Championships in 2006.

Doughty was with Team Canada in Vancouver in ’10.

Here’s a link to the entire Team Canada roster: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/olympics/photos-meet-the-mens-olympic-hockey-team/article16207151/?cmpid=rss1&click=dlvr.ithttp://

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Jeff Carter talks about scoring twice and ending the Kings’ five-game skid

Jeff Carter isn’t the most talkative player in the Kings’ dressing room. He often skips out before speaking to reporters. It’s not that he’s a bad quote or anything, but he simply avoids the crush of tape records and video cameras more often than not. That changed after he scored two goals in the Kings’ streak-busting 3-1 victory Saturday over the Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center.

Here’s a sample of his postgame comments:

“I gave him (linemate Dwight King) a yell and he made a heck of a play there (passing the puck for the go-ahead goal). That’s what he’s been doing lately for us. He’s an unbelievable player when he skates like that and uses his size. He’s got more skill than people think. I gave him one yell and he looked up.”

“We had some chances in St. Louis (a 5-0 loss Thursday). I should have had two goals. Hit a post and got robbed on another one. … We kept working. We know we have to keep working and battling and things are going to come around.”

 

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