The Kings and Coyotes played six times last season. Three of the games were decided by one goal; two were decided by two goals; and the other time the Kings decided not to play defense and lost 6-3.
True to their nature –even in the preseason, with rosters full of players who will spend this season in the AHL, ECHL or Canadian junior leagues –the Kings and Coyotes played a pair of one-goal games Thursday. The Coyotes squad that hosted the Kings in Glendale, Arizona, lost 3-2. The Coyotes squad that played in Anaheim a day earlier visited Staples Center and pulled out a 2-1 shootout win.
In Glendale [game summary | event summary], Dustin Penner scored with 49 seconds left in regulation to break a 2-2 tie. Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist, Trevor Lewis had three assists, and Ethan Moreau scored in the first period –chronologically, the Kings’ first goal of the preseason.
Jonathan Bernier started and saved 18 of 19 shots in two periods. Jeff Zatkoff got the third period and stopped 8 of 9.
At Staples Center, the vantage point of the press box offered a few more insights:
Christopher Gibson speaks English, Finnish and French, but has a Latin phrase etched into the back of his goalie mask: “Luctor et Emergo.” Literally, this means “I struggle and emerge.”
The Kings’ first selection in the 2011 Entry Draft, Gibson certainly struggled in his first game in a Kings uniform. Gibson allowed five goals in the third period as the Kings blew a 6-3 lead, losing 8-7 to the Phoenix Coyotes at Toyota Sports Center. The two teams will play again at 2 p.m. today at TSC, completing the two-game exhibition series between the teams.
Gibson wasn’t the only prospect who slipped on a Kings uniform for the first time Wednesday. That was a factor in 60 minutes of up-and-down hockey.
“There were a lot of nervous guys in that dressing room,” said forward Brandon Kozun, who scored two goals and added an assist on the eve of his third training camp with the Kings.
Goaltender Jean-Francois Berube, a fourth-round draft pick by the Kings in 2009, has signed an entry-level contract, according to RDS.ca.
5:27 p.m. update: A Kings spokesperson said that Berube hasn’t officially signed. We’ll let you know if that changes.
Berube went 32-7-8 with a 2.60 goals-against average and .902 save percentage for the Montreal Juniors of the QMJHL in 2010-11.
Berube, who turns 20 in July, is all but assured to turn pro next season and would likely be assigned either to AHL affiliate Manchester or ECHL affiliate Ontario.
The Kings have two other contracted goalies in their system. Jeff Zatkoff, a 2006 draft pick, recently completed the final season of his entry-level contract in a tandem situation in Manchester. The other half of the tandem is Martin Jones, who started last season in Ontario and finished in Manchester. He’s signed through 2012-13.
The most famous Japanese hockey player in Kings history – more accurately, the only Japanese hockey player in NHL history -was in the news again today.
Yutaka Fukufuji made 47 saves but took the loss as host nation Kazakhstan defeated Japan 4-1 in the gold-medal game at the Asian Winter Games. Fukufuji, who appeared in four games for the Kings in 2006-07, was named Best Goalkeeper of the tournament by the Tournament Directorate. The 28-year-old left North America two years ago and currently plays in the Asian League, according to Wikipedia.
A few notes from the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ AHL affiliate:
Scoring his third goal in as many games Friday evening, defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov (12-25=37) holds sole possession of first place on the Monarchs with 37 points.
Voynov also leads American Hockey League defenseman with 37 points on the season and is tied for the lead among AHL blueliners with six power-play goals to his credit.
LW Bud Holloway recorded an assist as well as his team-leading 16th goal of the season in Saturday’s 4-0 blanking of the Albany Devils. He has 36 points (16-20=36) in 51 games to place second on the Monarchs in points. Holloway also assisted on the game-winning goal and added a power play goal of his own as insurance in Saturday’s contest against Albany.
Martin Jones stopped all 26 shots he faced to pick up his third shutout of the season against Albany. Jeff Zatkoff missed the game with an undisclosed illness. A night earlier, Jones absorbed a 4-3 shootout loss against the Worcester Sharks.
The Monarchs (31-16-1-4) have a tenuous two-point lead on Portland (30-15-4-1) in the Atlantic Division; Portland has two games in hand. Things could change in a hurry this week: Manchester plays four games in five days, all at home, beginning Wednesday.
If only Slava Voynov were playing for the Kings …
Complete that hypothetical scenario in your minds as you wish. Here’s one possibility: He would have been the second-fastest skater in the NHL had he been invited to the NHL SuperSkills competition Saturday.
The defenseman gained the title of fastest skater in the American Hockey League on Sunday with a timed skate of 14.197 seconds in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Compare that to Saturday’s competition among NHL All-Stars in Raleigh, N.C., won by the New York Islanders’ Michael Grabner – 14.061 seconds in the preliminary round; 14.238 in the final.
The Manchester Monarchs duo of Voynov and Martin Jones are the only Kings prospects taking part in the AHL’s All-Star weekend. The game itself is tomorrow at 4 p.m. (Find the complete broadcast listings here; it looks like the best local viewing options are on Time Warner Cable channel 101, ahllive.com and NHL Center Ice.)
Goalies are usually the sacrificial pawns of hockey all-star games, but Jones was credited with the second-best save percentage at the skills competition. The rookie stopped 21 of 29 shots (0.724 save percentage) for the Eastern Conference. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goaltender John Curry claimed the top goaltender award by stopping 21 of 28 (.750).
The East beat the West 19-7.