San Jose 4, Kings 3, OT.

“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.

The hot-button issue after the game was the absence of Terry Murray and any Kings coaches in the postgame handshake, as described here and here.

I put a request out to the Kings for comment. Like the obituary, it may have to wait.

A few factoids for now:
Continue reading “San Jose 4, Kings 3, OT.” »

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Kings 1, Phoenix 0.

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 …
Continue reading “Kings 1, Phoenix 0.” »

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Pittsburgh 2, Kings 1.

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:
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Updates on Sturm, Parse, and media darling Rob Scuderi.

That collective sigh coming from El Segundo tomorrow morning will signal the end of the Kings’ brief layover in Southern California. After spending three full days at home, the last two of which included morning practices, it’s off to Pittsburgh and arguably the Kings’ toughest road trip of the season.

The six-games-in-10-days stretch includes games against four of the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference (plus the Islanders and the Blue Jackets).
Continue reading “Updates on Sturm, Parse, and media darling Rob Scuderi.” »

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Kings 4, Calgary 3, SO.

Justin Williams’ seventh-round shootout goal capped a big day for the veteran winger and gave the Kings two points at the end of a long night in Calgary.

Williams picked up the primary assist on Rob Scuderi’s goal 39 seconds into the game, and on Dustin Brown’s goal at 6:17 of the first period after a Robyn Regehr goal had tied the game at 1. At 11:02 of the second period Williams scored to restore the lead again, at 3-2, before Alex Tanguay’s second goal of the game brought Calgary back at 3-3 in the third period.

Jonathan Quick made 32 saves through 65 minutes. In the shootout, he allowed a pair of quick goals to Rene Bourque and Alex Tanguay, then was credited with five straight saves (with help from a pair of goal posts).

The net result was the Kings’ fifth win in their last six games, a stretch in which they have gained 11 of a possible 12 points. They have hardly been dominant – two of the wins came via the shootout, and the other three came by 1- or 2-goal margins. The Kings were outshot again in Calgary (35-33) and have only outshot two of six opponents during the streak.

But aside from the obvious benefit of gaining points in the Western Conference standings (and oh, by the way, the Kings leapfrogged the Flames into the top eight tonight), the six-game point streak has served an important purpose. It’s removed the sense of urgency to acquire someone from the outside to pump some life into the offense. Not that the offense is firing on all cylinders, but each win makes the Feb. 28 trade deadline seem like a realistic time frame in which to forge a solution.

A few more notes:
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Lombardi quotes on Scuderi

A quick interview with Dean Lombardi…


Question: How did this one come together?

LOMBARDI: “We were trying to avoid what happened last year with Orpik. It was the exact same situation. With Orpik last year, we knew what Pittsburgh offered, and we made our offer but the (current team) is always going to get the last chance, and they got him. In this case, we found out what Pittsburgh was offered and we knew we just had to blow them out of the water. When you’re talking about offers, it’s not just the money. It’s cost of living in L.A. and it’s taxes. If you’re offering $500,000 more, it’s really not that much when you look at everything. So we knew we had to blow Pittsburgh out of the water, but we wanted this guy. He has a ring and there are no questions at all about his character.”

Question: Where do you see him fitting in with the guys already here?

LOMBARDI: “He’s a steady guy who can go with Doughty and a steady guy that can go with Johnson. We like the guys we have, the Quinceys and the Greenes, but the real steady guys I’ve got are the ones that are coming up through the system now. I didn’t want to have to play those kids right away. I wanted another guy with experience, and now I can put all of those kids in the minors for a year and I’ve got a guy with a ring. Now hopefully I don’t have to go back into that (free-agent) market for a while looking for guys (on defense).”

Question: Looking at the roster, it would seem that you have six NHL-ready defensemen. Is there a chance one of the kids could still jump out at you?

LOMBARDI: “Sure there’s a chance, but there’s also a question of how the money might even out. It’s a huge price to pay to break a kid in at this level. You get him in, then he maybe has one good year and then, boom, he’s asking for (a big contract). When you build depth, you try to do it the way Detroit did with (Jonathan) Ericsson, and bring them along slowly. Let’s say Hickey comes in and lights it up in training camp. OK, that’s a good problem to have, but in the long run, if you can wait until your guys are completely ready, you hopefully end up like Detroit. It gets tough when you have a situation like we had with Moller. He has a great camp and we take him, but he’s not really a man yet. I hate to do that, so this (Scuderi signing) helps us.”

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Rob Scuderi quotes


It’s tough to make judgments based on a phone call, but it seems safe to say the Kings got a great character guy today in Rob Scuderi. Often it’s the little things that say a lot about in person. In Scuderi’s case, he made two attempts to reconnect after his cell phone cut out, and apologized profusely for interrupting the conversation. It’s already clear that Scuderi will be a “go-to guy” for reporters seeking quotes.


Question: Did you think the Kings were an option from the start, or is this something that just developed over the last couple days?

SCUDERI: “They showed some interest on the first day, but they didn’t really make an offer, so my agent and I didn’t really know what would happen. I was interested in the Kings, because obviously there’s a lot of young talent there. Today they made an offer and we got it done.”

Question: You mentioned the young talent. How much do you know about this Kings team?

SCUDERI: “When you play in the East, you don’t look a whole lot at the West. I think we played them once or twice during my time with the Penguins, but when I talked to Lombardi and Hextall, they told me to take a long look at the roster. It’s not hard to see the good mix of talented guys and the young talent they have coming up. It’s hard to miss guys like Doughty and Johnson, and it looks like there’s a whole lot of potential on this team.”

Question: In talking to Lombardi, he seemed to be looking for a guy with some experience and leadership. Did he talk to you about what he expects, on and off the ice?

SCUDERI: “One of the positives, one of the things that made my decision easier, is that they don’t expect me to do anything different than I did for the last four years in Pittsburgh. A lot of guys, when they sign a free-agent contract, they feel like they have to do more and they feel obligated to live up to it, and it ends up hurting them because they try to do too much. They know what they can expect from me, both on and off the ice. I’m a family man, and I’m not the type of man who’s going to be out burning the candle at both ends. I hope I can bring some leadership to the team.”

Question: Fans saw a lot of you in the playoffs, obviously, but maybe not a lot in general. What should people know about your game?

SCUDERI: “I’d say I’m an extremely under-the-radar type of player. If you haven’t noticed me during a game, I probably had a good one. You can expect me to make the simple plays when they need to be made and not take chances that lead to bad mistakes.”

Question: During your time in Pittsburgh, the Penguins went from being a pretty bad team to being champions. What types of things do these young Kings need to know about winning?

SCUDERI: “It’s all about the attitude and work ethic that you bring to the rink every day. We tried to create a winning culture in Pittsburgh, and I’ve seen how fast things can turn around for a team. I’m hoping I can be one of the players who helps create that type of culture here. This is a talented team, with all the defensemen and with guys like Kopitar and Brown and Frolov. They’re not that far away. They were in it until the final month of the season, and I really think they’re not that far away.”

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