Ethan Moreau signs, and he’s pissed off.

Ask Ethan Moreau, and he’ll tell you it’s a good thing not too many teams inquired about his services this summer.

“Because it makes me pissed off for the season coming up,” said the 35-year-old forward, who finalized a one-year, $600,000 contract with the Kings on Tuesday.

Most athletes will tell you they play better with something to prove — the proverbial chip on the shoulder — and Moreau definitely has something. While Kings assistant general manager Ron Hextall said they were “thrilled to have him,” he’s well aware why Moreau was still on the free-agent market in late August: Teams were scared off by a lengthy injury history that included a 2010-11 season in which Moreau played just 37 games.

“Last year was a tough year, whenever a player is getting on in years, everyone questions whether he’s capable of doing it anymore,” Hextall said.

Moreau — who passed a physical Monday –insists he can still do it.
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kings at the World Championships, Day 9. Update.

Jonathan Bernier’s last game before Saturday was an April 4 relief appearance in the Kings’ 6-1 loss to the Sharks in San Jose.

His thoughts, as told to IIHF.com, following Team Canada’s 3-2 win over Norway were understandable: “I was excited,” said Bernier, “because I haven’t played for about a month, so for me the big thing was to get that first shot on goal and get used to the bigger ice surface.”

Bernier finished with 25 saves, allowing both Norway goals in the final 10 minutes after Jason Spezza, John Tavares and James Neal spotted Canada a 3-0 lead.

James Reimer, who had started every game for Canada at the tournament prior to Saturday, served as the backup to Bernier rather than play on back-to-back days.

With the win, Canada clinched one of eight spots in the quarterfinal round.

Jack Johnson and Team USA breathed more life into their quarterfinal aspirations Saturday, while Michal Handzus and Team Slovakia met a disappointing fate.
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kings at the World Championships, Day 8. Update.

Historically, shootouts have been a more popular means for deciding hockey games in Europe than North America. When in Slovakia …

Canada beat the United States, 4-3, in qualification-round play in Kosice, getting shootout goals from Rick Nash and Jordan Eberle to seal the win. Ty Conklin made 48 saves between regulation and overtime, but couldn’t stop either shootout attempt he faced. Kings defenseman Jack Johnson, who went first, and Blake Wheeler missed on both U.S. shots.

Johnson scored his first goal of the tournament in the second period to temporarily give the U.S. a 2-1 lead. He finished a plus-1 in 28 minutes, including more than half (2:38) of the overtime period.

Just as they would in an NHL game, the U.S. gets a point for the shootout loss. They moved into sole possession of fourth place in Group F, from which four teams will advance into the next (playoff) round. Canada leads the group with seven points.

Later Friday, Michal Handzus and Team Slovakia lost 3-2 to the rival Czechs, crushing their chances of advancing out of the Qualification Round. Now, according to IIHF.com, Slovakia needs to win its games against Finland and Denmark, and Finland shouldn’t take points in its last game against Russia.

Handzus played a scoreless 18:56 in the game, which was played in Bratislava, less than three hours from Handzus’ hometown of Banska Bystrica.

Martin Havlat, Marek Zidlicky and Patrik Elias scored for the Czechs.

Jonathan Bernier is expected to start for Team Canada tomorrow against Norway.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kings at the World Championships, Day 5.

Michal Handzus and Slovakia (1-2) clinched third place in Group A Tuesday with a 4-3 loss to Russia. Handzus finished scoreless with a minus-1 rating in 19:23 for the host country, which lost despite the return of former Kings defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky from shoulder injuries.

Germany won the group at 2-1-0-0 (wins-overtime wins-losses-overtime losses), with Russia placing second and Slovenia fourth.

Group play is over; Slovakia next plays Thursday and will learn its opponent tomorrow.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kings at the World Championships, Day 3.

Michal Handzus made his debut at the IIHF World Championships for Slovakia on Sunday, playing a scoreless 20:33 and finishing plus-1 in his team’s 4-3 loss to Germany.

Germany took a 4-0 lead into the third period before goals by Ladislav Nagy, Josef Stumpel and Pavol Demitra scored over the final 14:34 to make it interesting.

Jonathan Bernier wasn’t in the lineup for Canada in their 9-1 thumping of France. James Reimer and Devan Dubnyk split the goaltending duties.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Sharks 6, Kings 5, OT.

The hashtags and catchphrases were skipping through cyberspace within a half-hour of Devin Setoguchi’s goal at 3:09 of overtime: “The Failure on Figueroa.”

After squandering a 4-0, second-period lead, the Kings’ 6-5 overtime loss in Game 3 to the San Jose Sharks can be seen as nothing less.

“We’ve got to look at what happened in the second (period), learn from it,” a despondent Kings captain Dustin Brown said, “because we don’t have the type of team that can take periods off, especially at this time of year.”

Apparently the Sharks do — a revelation that may ultimately prove the difference in the series.

Antti Niemi was pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots, the last of which came 44 seconds into the second period on a Brad Richardson wrister.

Somehow, inexplicably, the Sharks shed the ghosts of postseasons past by scoring five goals over the remainder of the second period. Only a backdoor, breakaway tally by Ryan Smyth interrupted the onslaught and kept the teams tied at 5 heading into the third period.

“[It was] puck management,” Brown said. “We needed to get the puck deep on them. They’re a fast offensive team and we gave them chances and plays. They can find lanes and open areas to get some goals, and that’s kind of what happened with the overtime goal. They transitioned it from their end, and it was pretty quick.”

Like ripping off a band-aid, Setoguchi’s first goal of the series provided a stinging, decisive conclusion to a back-and-forth game.

The question now: How deep do the Kings’ emotional wounds run?

“It stings right now,” Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. “We got to let it go though right away. You give yourself tonight, you feel bad about it, but tomorrow’s a new day.”
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kings 3, Phoenix 2, shootout.

Of the many questions they have faced this season, the Kings answered the biggest of them all on Wednesday: They will participate in the playoffs.

A dominant victory over a possible first-round playoff opponent would have been a nice luxury. A 3-2 shootout win, in which Jonathan Quick stopped two out of the three shooters and Michal Handzus and Jarret Stoll beat Ilya Bryzgalov, got the job done.

The Kings moved into fourth place in a still-tight Western Conference playoff race, and have the inside track on home-ice advantage for the first round. Stoll also scored in regulation off a terrific Dustin Brown set-up, and Kyle Clifford scored off a terrific Wayne Simmonds set-up.

The Kings finished 3-3 against the Coyotes in the regular season, winning the last two.

Here are a few more notes that won’t make tomorrow’s editions:
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kings win, but lose Kopitar (video).

The Kings’ top two scorers will not be healthy when the playoffs begin. That’s the grim reality facing the Kings after Anze Kopitar broke his ankle in the second period of a 4-1 win over the Avalanche on Saturday.

Head coach Terry Murray said that Kopitar will miss “a minimum of six weeks,” which certainly dampened the mood inside Staples Center.

Kopitar suffered the injury at 15:39 of the second period during a puck battle along the boards with Ryan O’Byrne (you can see the severity clearly at the 1:50 mark of this video):

The Kings are already without Justin Williams, who sustained a separated shoulder against the Calgary Flames earlier in the week. Now without Kopitar, “we have to find a way either way,” captain Dustin Brown said. “You don’t want have your best player go down but if that’s the case, we need to fill the responsibility collectively and find a way because no other team is going to feel sorry for us.”

“He’s your top player, your top forward, so there’s quite a hole that’s going to be there with him out of the lineup for this length of time,” Murray said. “I’ve dealt with this before with top guys being out with injuries and it’s an opportunity for other players to step up, the character of the team needs to step up and everyone needs to start doing the right things. You’ve got to trust your structure and your system and give it the best opportunity you can as a group to finish games off and play the right way.”

Kopitar could not finish his team-record 330th consecutive game after the injury. Willie Mitchell, Michal Handzus, Ryan Smyth and Trevor Lewis scored goals and Jonathan Quick stopped 20 of 21 shots against the rebuilding Avalanche.

The Kings are short on options at center. Everyone moved up a line after Kopitar’s injury -Handzus between Dustin Penner and Oscar Moller; Lewis between Brown and Smyth. But top prospects Andrei Loktionov (season-ending shoulder surgery) and Brayden Schenn (playing in junior) are not options. Cory Elkins (18 goals, 24 assists, 42 points) and Justin Azevedo (17+30=47) are the top two centers currently playing for AHL affiliate Manchester, but it’s unlikely that either player would be expected to fill a top-six role in the NHL today.

The Kings do not practice tomorrow and next play Tuesday in Edmonton.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kings 4, Columbus 3, SO.

Jarret Stoll’s shootout goal lifted the Kings to another close win on a road trip that is slowly, surely turning their season around.

Since hitting their low point Jan. 20 at 24-22-1, the Kings have gone 8-0-2 – including 5-0-2 to start their 10-game “road trip.”

Stoll slipped a forehand past the blocker of Mathieu Garon and Jonathan Quick made 26 saves, plus three more in the shootout, to preserve the win. Justin Williams scored his team-leading 20th goal of the season, Andrei Loktionov scored his fourth and Drew Doughty scored his eighth. The Kings (32-22-3) never trailed but never pulled away, allowing the Blue Jackets (28-23-6) to answer each of their goals.

“A conference game and both teams are trying to push themselves into the playoffs,” Kings head coach Terry Murray said. “I liked our first period. I thought that was a good start. Then we started to get away from doing the right things in the second period. We were a little too fancy and a little too cute at times. We lost our responsibility in the checking part of the game. It was back and forth and we are going to need to be more focused as we move through the rest of this trip.”

A few more notes:
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kings 1, Philadelphia 0. Updates with more tidbits.

Anze Kopitar spotted a streaking Drew Doughty 17 seconds into the second period for the only goal of the game, and Jonathan Quick’s 40-save shutout gave the Kings their seventh win in their last nine games (7-0-2).

Credit Wayne Simmonds for starting the scoring sequence by winning a puck battle behind the net with Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Simmonds fished the puck out to Kopitar in the corner, before Kopitar hit the tape of Doughty’s stick as he skated high to low through the right faceoff circle.

The game delivered on the promise of a plot between a Kings team whose GM, head coach and assistant coach were lifted straight from the Flyers organization. It wasn’t a contrast in styles, but a battle of which team could execute the same system better. On Sunday, it was the Kings by a nose.

Former Flyer Michal Handzus also played a pivotal role during a 20-second-long 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period. Handzus won the initial offensive-zone faceoff, allowing the Kings to clear the puck once, then ventured high into the offensive zone to clear the puck out again and kill the penalty.

The Flyers could not convert any of their four power plays, mustering two shots over a combined 7:40.

That helped Quick collect his sixth shutout of the season, outdueling Sergei Bobrovsky, who had an excellent 24-save performance of his own.

A few more notes …
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email