The Kings didn’t skate Tuesday. They had a charity gig in the afternoon, but are scheduled to return to their El Segundo rink for a workout Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s home game against goalie Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes. The Kings dropped a 3-2 decision to the Calgary Flames on Monday because they gave up three power-play goals, including what proved to be the winner from T.J. Brodie with 30 seconds remaining. Here are three lasting impressions on the Kings’ lackluster performance:
This might or might not be on-line already, but I’m posting it here, too, with expanded answers.
Did Dean Lombardi do enough in the offseason?
The Kings’ general manager said over and over again that he wanted to keep the roster as intact as possible, and he certainly did that with a series of deft offseason moves. Forwards Matt Frattin and Daniel Carcillo and goalie Ben Scrivens are the only new faces on the opening-night roster. Forward Dustin Penner, defenseman Rob Scuderi and goalie Jonathan Bernier left the club in the summer. But the general rule is if you’re not improving, then you’re getting worse and it could be argued that’s the case with the Kings. Scuderi’s loss might not be evident on the stat sheet, and it might take a while to notice his absence. But rest assured, at some point, at some critical moment, the Kings will wish they were able to re-sign him and he didn’t bolt for friendly surroundings in Pittsburgh. Losing Penner via free agency was no big deal, but it also remains to be seen if trading Bernier was the right move. Sure, it was good for his career to move to Toronto. But if Quick is hurt or falters, the Kings will hand the backup job to the relatively untested Scrivens.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi explained his decision to leave the Kings and sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent this way: “When moving your family, the transition can be kind of odd and awkward. I thought going to Pittsburgh, the familiarity with the area would make for an easier transition. And most important, the team in a win-now mode.”
He also said his game would be a good fit with the Penguins, adding: Continue reading
Free agent defenseman Rob Scuderi, a key piece of the Kings’ puzzle during their charge to the Stanley Cup championship in 2012 and a second straight run to the Western Conference finals in ’13, signed a four-season, $13.5-million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
Free agency begins Friday. Here’s a look at the Kings’ unrestricted free agents:
Dustin Penner, LW, 2 goals, 12 assists, minus-2, 33 games, 2012-13 salary $3.25 million.
Brad Richardson, C, 1 goal, 5 assists, plus-2, 16 games, 2012-13 salary $1.35 million.
Rob Scuderi, D, 1 goal, 11 assists, minus-6, 48 games. 2012-13 salary $3.4 million
Thanks to capgeek.com for salary info.
Rob Scuderi is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent early next month, and the Kings’ veteran defenseman could go that route if he decides it’s best for him and his family. Scuderi talked last week about finding a comfort zone with the Kings over the last four seasons. He also said when asked about his future with the team:
Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi was as baffled by the Kings’ lack of road success, especially during the playoffs, as anyone else. It was perhaps the main reason the Kings were eliminated from the conference finals in five games by the Chicago Blackhawks. The Kings lost all three games they played in Chicago and dropped eight of nine on the road overall in the postseason. Last year, they were 10-1 on the road during the playoffs.
“Overtime” and “heartbreak” went together well for the Kings in this year’s playoffs. So did “Staples Center” and “heartbreak.”
“Kings” and “heartbreak”? Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
Joe Thornton’s goal at 2:22 of overtime ended the Kings’ season Monday with a 4-3 loss at Staples. The Kings finished 0-3 at home in the series, 0-3 in overtime, and finished this season right where they ended the last: Done for the season after six playoff games.
Players and coaches won’t be available to the media tomorrow, so a full-fledged “obituary” of the season will have to wait until Wednesday.
I put a request out to the Kings for comment. Like the obituary, it may have to wait.
A few factoids for now:
The difference in the Kings’ last two games wasn’t Jonathan Bernier or Dustin Penner. It was astronomical.
That said, Jonathan Bernier’s 25 saves and Dustin Penner’s debut were the most memorable aspects of a game decided on Jarret Stoll’s power-play goal with 7:47 left in the third period.
For the first time in a while, Bernier had to flash a nervous smile and get political in the dressing room after the game. That’s the reward for posting a shutout immediately after a 7-4 loss: Questions about whether you want to be the starter.
“For me, it’s not something I focus on,” Bernier said. “Me and Quickie, we’re here to win some hockey games. Quickie’s our number one. He’s done a tremendous job for us.”
Nobody’s denying Quick’s resume. But neither can one ignore his six goals allowed Monday against Detroit – a team the Kings might have to face in the playoffs. Terry Murray didn’t ignore Quick’s last outing by starting Bernier on Thursday, and now the coach can’t just as easily ignore Bernier’s shutout. Murray would not tip his thinking when asked after the game if he was inclined to start Bernier against Dallas.
Penner didn’t score, but he was directly involved in the goal, and had some good cycle shifts with Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds (and Justin Williams, who took over for Simmonds at right wing in the third period). Penner’s only shot attempt was blocked, but he led the Kings with five hits.
A few more notes that won’t appear in tomorrow’s editions …
Jordan Staal’s forehand wrister with 18.4 seconds left in overtime sent the Kings to a 2-1 loss against a depleted Penguins squad.
After Los Angeles native Brett Sterling got the Pens on the board early, Jarret Stoll capitalized on a Penguins turnover to tie the game at 1 at 17:17 of the first period. Nobody scored again in a tight defensive battle until Staal’s game-winner. Jonathan Quick made 24 saves, and counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury had 32 for the Penguins.
When Quick and Fleury weren’t trading saves – mostly of the routine variety – they got help from their defense. The Kings (18) and Penguins (21) combined for 39 blocked shots, including seven alone by Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek. It was the type of game Pittsburgh needed without injured forwards Sidney Crosby (concussion), Evgeni Malkin (knee) and Chris Kunitz (lower body).
It was the type of game the Kings needed, too, given the depth of their recent offensive struggles. In the end, it could have gone either way. This time it went the Penguins’ way.
Optimistically, the Kings added to their point total for the seventh straight game. Pessimistically, even the latest forward permutations couldn’t find the second goal it needed to beat a weakened offensive team.
A few more notes: