3. How will a change in captaincy impact the Kings?
Dustin Brown was stripped of the Kings’ captaincy during the off-season, and he wasn’t happy about it. Kopitar was given the “C” in a leadership shakeup that was directed by team management rather than the players. Brown’s production slipped steadily in recent seasons, including in 2015-16, when he scored 11 goals and 28 points. It was the fourth consecutive season in which he failed to reach 30 points after he topped 45 points in six in a row. At times last season, he was shifted from roles on the top two lines and demoted to the fourth line. Brown sounded off about the switch during the summer, calling it “a tough pill to swallow.” Brown did not fault his teammates and said Kopitar would be “great at it” in his new role as captain. It remains to be seen whether that’s the end of the story.
Kings center Anze Kopitar was named Tuesday as Team Europe’s captain for the World Cup of Hockey, which begins Sept. 17 in Toronto. Kopitar, of Slovenia, was joined in the team’s leadership group by alternate captains Zdeno Chara of Slovakia and the Boston Bruins and Mark Streit of Switzerland and the Philadelphia Flyers. Chara and Streit are defensemen.
Kopitar was named the Kings’ captain in June, replacing Dustin Brown in a shakeup in the wake of last season’s first-round playoff exit at the hands of the San Jose Sharks and their failure to make the postseason in 2015. The 29-year-old Kopitar won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward and was honored with the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play this past season.
Looks like Tuesday was a rough night in Denver for the retired gentleman, as Kings coach Darryl Sutter once called the folks who keep track of the statistics for the NHL at the league’s games, There were a couple of significant scoring chances in the Kings’ 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.
The Kings’ first goal now reads: Marian Gaborik from Brayden McNabb and Justin Williams at 7:47 of the first period. So, take away an assist to Dustin Brown and add one for Williams, who ended up with three for the game.
The Kings’ third goal now reads: Kyle Clifford from Justin Williams and Andrej Sekera at 14:25 of the first period. So, take away a goal for McNabb and add an assist for Sekera, his first point since the Kings acquired him last month.
The Kings have lost two in a row after a 4-2 defeat Friday to the rival Ducks at the Honda Center. They had won eight in a row after losing 10 of 12 during a dismal stretch that threat their playoff chances. Consistency, or lack thereof, is a legitimate question for the 2014-15, particularly after a game like Friday’s. Kings captain Dustin Brown didn’t want to touch the topic, however.
“We win eight in a row and then we lose two and you guys think it’s consistency,” Brown said tersely to reporters after the Kings squandered a two-goal lead in the third period, giving up four goals to the Ducks in the final 20 minutes. “I don’t know why you said consistency because nobody was questioning that two games ago.”
Here’s what Kings captain Dustin Brown had to say after playing in a second Stadium Series game in as many seasons: “Two is enough for me. It’s a lot of buildup and there’s a lot that goes into it. It’s an exciting game, but I think our personality, with the group of guys in here, we’re pretty low key and this is the other end of the spectrum.”
Here’s what Kings forward Marian Gaborik said about adjusting his style of play to fit his more defensive-oriented teammates: “Yeah, I had to adjust a little bit, to buy into the system, play on the right side of the puck and make sure to play in the game and do my responsibilities as well. So, I think we’re rolling very good as a team right now, and I just have to keep it up.”
Here’s what Kings captain Dustin Brown said about Gaborik’s play: “I think we all understand what he was brought here to do, and that’s score big goals, and that’s what we expect of him. It’s the time when he’s not scoring big goals that we need him to play Kings hockey and tonight he came through for us huge. … I think it’s a work in progress.”
The Kings’ Marian Gaborik scored the winning goal in their 2-1 victory Saturday over the San Jose Sharks. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and not only because of the way he ripped his shot past the Sharks’ Antti Niemi and into the net in the opening minutes of the third period. Gabork has been something of a forgotten man this season, after leading the Kings in goals during the playoffs last spring.
“He’s pretty quiet, he’s pretty quiet, and then he has a goal like that,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said of Gaborik, who scored his 17th of the season. “That’s the type of game-breaker he is.”
The good folks in Columbus took another look at Dustin Brown’s third period goal during the Kings’ victory Monday over the Blue Jackets and they awarded a second assist to defenseman Brayden McNabb. The goal, at 1 minute, 49 seconds of the third, now reads: Dustin Brown from Marian Gaborik and McNabb.
KINGS AT PANTHERS
Faceoff: 4:30 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
Two games, two losses, one goal. The Kings’ five-game trip started with a whimper instead of a bang and the reigning Stanley Cup champions awoke Wednesday to find themselves in 12th place in the Western Conference and out of the playoff picture. Their 5-11-6 road record, which includes a 1-6-2 mark since Dec. 11, is partly to blame for a lackluster 21-17-12 overall record. The Kings are 15-16-11 since starting the season 6-1-1. Goalie Jonathan Quick, the MVP of the playoffs during the Kings’ first run to the Stanley Cup in 2012, is 17-14-10 with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. Kings captain Dustin Brown called for more emotion from his teammates after a 4-0 loss Tuesday to the Capitals in Washington, which followed a 3-1 defeat Saturday to the Bruins in Boston. Florida is 22-17-10. The Panthers on Thursday recalled defenseman Steven Kampfer from San Antonio of the AHL.
Here’s Kings captain Dustin Brown talking to reporters Tuesday after a 4-0 loss to the Capitals in Washington: “it’s starts with our emotion. … We’re a good team, but it’s hard to win when you don’t play with enough emotion. That’s on an individual level and a collective level. We need everyone to be invested in the game emotionally, and from there we can work on X’s and O’s and all that, but emotion first. I think it’s just a matter of getting yourself ready to go. I think it’s an individual’s responsibility to play every night, then it’s helping our team. If he’s not ready, it’s one of those things where everyone has off nights,but the emotion can always be there and the work can always be there.”
Strong stuff from the captain.