Three things about the L.A. Kings victory over the Carolina Hurricanes

Here are the top few paragraphs of my game story:

Tanner Pearson chipped the icicles off his hockey stick Thursday at Staples Center. The rookie left wing ended an 11-game goal-scoring drought with a deft swat of the puck that propelled the Kings to a grinding 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

So great was Pearson’s slump that he went from playing on the Kings’ most effective line, to sitting on the bench and watching for extended stretches, to nearly sitting in the press box and eating popcorn by the fistful as his teammates faced the Hurricanes.

It’s often that way with gifted young players, with their production ebbing and flowing. Kings coach Darryl Sutter hinted that a night in the rafters might not be such a bad thing, although he didn’t mention the 22-year-old Pearson by name.

Sutter didn’t pull the trigger Thursday, but Pearson did. Pearson’s goal gave the Kings a 3-2 lead only minutes into the second period and they held it the rest of the way against the Hurricanes. The Kings’ victory was their third in a row after a two-game losing streak.

Here are three things about the Kings’ latest victory:

First, Pearson’s slumps will be fewer and farer (is that a word?) between as he matures and gains experience. He was doing all the right things of late, but the puck wasn’t going into the net for him. He solved it by charging to the net and smacking a loose puck into it. Smart play by a gifted player who realizes that not all the goals are going to be masterpieces.Gritty goals count just as much as pretty ones.

Second, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty played 25:10 against Carolina, ending his streak of 30-minute games at four in a row. Injuries and the suspension to Slava Voynov have wreaked havoc with Sutter’s defense pairs and Doughty has been overplayed to the extreme at times. Sutter has acknowledged the disservice it’s done to Doughty and to the Kings. But what else can he do? Voynov won’t be back any time soon after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday it would charge Voynov in a domestic violence case. Alec Martinez is expected back within a week or so after undergoing minor surgery on a finger. But the numbers are thin for Sutter, so expect Doughty to keep playing big minutes.

Third, the Kings’ power play, once a hindrance, is now a help. The Kings went 1 for 3 with the man advantage against the Hurricanes, which came one game after they clicked on 3 of 6 chances Tuesday against the Florida Panthers and two games after they were 2 of 3 on Saturday against the Ducks. The Kings went through a 1-for-27 slump over nine games and it appeared their power play was a lost cause. But that’s no longer the case if recent games are an indication. That’s a very big deal for a team that often struggles to score while skating 5 on 5.

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Read the NHL’s statement on the District Attorney’s decision to charge Slava Voynov

The statement from the NHL: “We are aware of the action taken today in California, which we will review and evaluate before making any decisions. Until further notice, the current terms of Mr. Voynov’s suspension remain in place.”

The NHL suspended Voynov indefinitely only hours after his arrest on domestic violence charges Oct. 20.

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District Attorney to charge L.A. Kings defenseman Slava Voynov

 

Kings defenseman Slava Voynov will be charged by the L.A. County District Attorney.

Kings defenseman Slava Voynov will be charged by the L.A. County District Attorney.

Here’s the link to the press release, which includes the most detailed description yet released publicly of what happened between Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and his wife on that Oct. 19 night at their home in Redondo Beach: http://da.co.la.ca.us/mr/pdf/112014_LA_Kings_Defenseman_Charged_in_Domestic_Violence_Case%20.pdf

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Statement from the L.A. Kings on the District Attorney’s decision to charge Slava Voynov

The Kings statement: “We maintain our support of the NHL’s indefinite suspension of Slava Voynov. As an organization, we will continue to closely monitor the developments of the legal proceedings and work in partnership with the NHL to determine the proper course of action in the future.”

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Three things about the L.A. Kings rout of the Vancouver Canucks

Here are the first few paragraphs of Saturday night’s recap:

Marian Gaborik scored his long-awaited, much-anticipated first goal of the season a little less than 10 minutes into the Kings’ 5-1 victory Saturday over the Vancouver Canucks. Then Jake Muzzin scored his first about five minutes later. Then Anze Kopitar scored his third about four minutes later.

In the end, the lifeless Canucks were a cure for what ailed the shorthanded Kings.

Robyn Regehr couldn’t play because of an injury suffered in Friday’s practice. Slava Voynov was banned for the ninth consecutive game, serving an indefinite suspension imposed by the NHL after his arrest on domestic violence charges last month in Redondo Beach.

Since salary-cap issues made it impossible for the Kings to seek replacements for Regehr and Voynov from their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., they were forced to dress only five defensemen for Saturday’s Pacific Division showdown with the Canucks.

Here are three additional things that stood out:

First, Gaborik’s goal was the first hint of his presence this season. Is that too harsh? Well, he was the Kings’ leading goal-scorer with 14 during their charge to the Stanley Cup championship last spring. He was the key piece to their postseason offensive surge, too. He has been injured for all but seven of their 15 games after signing a mammoth seven-year, $34-million contract to stay in Los Angeles. All things to consider when assessing his lack of production to start this season.

Second, Drew Doughty’s minutes have increased because of the Kings’ lack of healthy and eligible bodies in their defense corps. He played 29:46 Saturday against the Canucks. That’s a ton, especially this early in the season.

Third, the Canucks were surprising pushovers in their first visit to Staples Center this season. They didn’t score only Chris Higgins ended Jonathan Quick’s shutout bid with a goal at 12:07 of the final period. The Kings built a five-goal lead before Higgins struck on a centering pass from former L.A. forward Linden Vey. In the end, it was a disappointing showing by the surprising Canucks (10-5-0).

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Three things about the L.A. Kings victory over the Sabres

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick blanked the Sabres on Thursday for his team-record 33rd career shutout. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick blanked the Sabres on Thursday for his team-record 33rd career shutout. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Here are the first few paragraphs of Thursday’s game story:

The Kings had just enough Thursday. The defending Stanley Cup champions had 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders on their roster when they faced off against the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center, and not one healthy or eligible body more.

There simply was no margin for error for the Kings in their first game since defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested by Redondo Beach police on charges of domestic violence and suspended indefinitely with pay by the NHL on Monday morning.

Under normal circumstances, the mere presence of the struggling Sabres would have eased the Kings’ minds and made for an easy night. But an early goal and a record-setting goaltending performance also propelled the Kings to a 2-0 victory, their fifth in a row.

Here are three more things about the Kings’ latest victory:

First, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar scored power-play goals and the Kings clicked on two of three chances with the man-advantage overall. It’s a start for a power play that was 2 for 20 (10 percent) and ranked 25th in the 30-team NHL going into the game. The Kings must be better in their special teams play if they are to defend their Stanley Cup championship. It’s really that simple.

Second, Jonathan Quick stopped 29 shots and recorded his Kings-record 33rd shutout of his career, one more than the mark he shared since Oct. 16 with Rogie Vachon. “It really is nothing new,” Kopitar said of Quick’s play in goal. “He’s just solid back there. We try to help him out as much as we can. When breakdowns do happen, he’s back there. He’s saved our butts a bunch of times already. I’m sure he’s going to continue to do it.”

Third, the Kings welcomed defenseman Jake Muzzin to their lineup after he sat out the first six games of the season because of an upper-body injury. They also played for the first time since defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested on domestic violence charges and suspended Monday by the NHL, which turned out to be less of a distraction for the team than anyone might have imagined. The Kings are strong that way. Nothing seems to trouble them. Let’s see how it plays out long-term.

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NHL could give the L.A. Kings salary cap relief if Slava Voynov is banned for an extended period

It’s possible the NHL could give the shorthanded Kings some relief from the salary cap if defenseman Slava Voynov, who is suspended indefinitely with pay after his arrest Monday on domestic violence charges, is banned from the league for an extended period. At present, Voynov’s salary counts against the cap, as if he were sidelined by an injury or suspended for any other reason.

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday that during a conference call Tuesday with the Kings, “I did, however, allow for the possibility that we may revisit the player’s treatment if it becomes clear that this is going to be a longer-term situation.”

Daly told the website that the NHL acted Monday on “more information about the incident that has been available publicly.” Daly did not elaborate on the league’s swift action, which was announced only hours after Voynov was arrested by Redondo Beach police.

 

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Slava Voynov’s lawyer says suspended L.A. Kings defenseman never hit woman

Craig Renetzky, the attorney for Slava Voynov, told The Hockey News that the alleged victim in the case of domestic violence that resulted in the Kings’ defenseman’s arrest by Redondo Beach police early Monday morning and his indefinite suspension by the NHL was injured in an “accident.”

“Hopefully, the police will get that,” Renetzky said. “And we’re hoping the NHL looks at the new evidence and will lift the suspension. What the police will find out when they talk to her is that that action was not related to Mr. Voynov. I can’t go into complete details, but Mr. Voynov never hit the woman. This is really just a pure accident and we’re going to provide them with some additional evidence we hope they’ll present to the District Attorney’s office. And if they do, based on my experience, they don’t have a case.

“I think if the authorities ac properly and do a complete investigation, they will have to find that charges are not warranted.”

Detectives hope to complete their investigation and file their reports with the District Attorney by week’s end, Redondo Beach police Lt. Joe Hoffman told the Los Angeles News Group on Tuesday.

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L.A. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi talks about Slava Voynov (part 2)

Here’s more of a 20-minute interview Tuesday with Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who talks here about what he’s learned about defenseman Slava Voynov’s arrest and suspension on domestic violence charges:

“I’ve got a conference call today (with the NHL). That’s where it all gets gray here. There’s so many things. Slava certainly has his rights, then you have the police investigation, then you have the league investigation, then you’ve got the issues about, OK, how long does this go? So, we’re in limbo until this process plays out. In the meantime, it has ramifications. Do we recall a player. What are the implications for the (salary) cap. What’s the shortest (he could be suspended)? If he’s found not-guilty does that mean he’s still suspended? There’s so many issues right here. I’ve got a call today, but even then I don’t expect a lot of answers.

“For the NHL, this is probably new turf. I think it’s new turf for a lot of leagues. Again, because the old system was to wait until the criminal system does it’s thing. That ain’t the case. Now what do you do with all that gray that’s out there, particularly now again in a cap era when it’s no that easy to recall players and deal with things. We’ll have to start working their way through it.

“Nothing at all (in terms of discipline issues with Voynov in the past). Never even been late for practice. This is a kid, you could have made more money in juniors, in the minors, and his father was really struggling. Kept his promise. … Anything involving character issues off the rink, even when we drafted him, he kept his word and came over right away when he could have made more money in Russia. That’s all on the positive side. Then, you know, so …”

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