The 2013 NHL regular season concludes as the Kings land in the 5 spot. In this installment we quickly breakdown the games against the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings & San Jose Sharks, present our Top 5 Reasons why playing the St. Louis Blues in Round 1 is awesome, introduce our KingsCast Playoff Beard tracker and preview the playoffs.
Drew Doughty‘s fifth season in a Kings uniform has been a respectably impressive, yet terribly underrated one. Most of the quiet criticism has centered on the 24 year-old’s low offensive output this year, which is, well, the way many faces came to know the youngblood.
If Doughty has built his NHL resume on one key or attention-grabbing tactic, it’s that of his knack to score at the position he plays, and in the casual, yet baffling way he does it. When it becomes a big enough threat to your game, the opposition is going to adapt. Either that, or you’re going to hit a bump in the road, a la a human being.
Statisticians have been busy with Drew Doughty‘s name the previous three regular season campaigns, where the Kings’ defenseman tallied 37 goals and 98 total assists. When you add serious dependability on the defensive end – which is his main job, well, you’ve got quite a player.
The buzz made sense.
Now you see him with four goals and 14 assists through 40 games this season. And those numbers mean as little as they are low – low, if we’re talking the expectations Drew Doughty’s built.
You may want to be reminded of Drew Doughty early last season after his lengthy contract dispute, which saw him sit out the Kings’ entire training camp and preseason schedule. There, you’re going to be fulfilled with highlights of a defenseman being out of his designated position at crucial times, due to an overdose of his offensive knack, ultimately hurting the team.
Probably not, though. Maybe you’re looking for an answer to right now.
Maybe it’s got something to do with Doughty maturing; taking on a more responsible, defensive approach. That doesn’t mean his future sees him as a stay-at-home defenseman. Please now.
Maybe it’s got something to do with the Kings having the best offensive scheme they’ve ever had in franchise history. Jarret Stoll isn’t our 3rd-leading scorer these days. The defense can play their game.
Maybe it’s got something to do with the Kings starting the season and playing it through so far without the two biggest stay-at-home defensively stalwart names on this roster: Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene.
Maybe the Kings are in 4th-place in the Western Conference with eight games left to play, with a comfortable gap in points, just about cuing a fourth-straight appearance to the NHL playoffs.
Maybe the Kings got throttled tonight by the Dallas Stars, falling by a horrid 5-1 score at the American Airlines Center via surrendering four-unanswered third period goals.
Maybe it’s just one game.
Maybe he’s just getting started
While one finishes
Cup and Out: It was basically already figured, but Willie Mitchell will be out for the remainder of the season, with no return to the Kings’ lineup expected, no matter how lengthy a postseason stretch could last.
I say it out of respect, and what I think many others – deep down, would like to see happen as well: Good career, Willie Mitchell. From a real life perspective, Mitchell should call it a done deal.
The guy can still play, and the Kings would love to have him back on the ice. His unfortunate health history is not worth the return. He’s suffered a myriad of concussions, and has been sidelined all season for a “different” injury.
To put it simply: Life itself, especially with a family involved, is not worth risking while playing the game of hockey. Especially so, when you’ve had an NHL career-run such as Willie Mitchell‘s.
Call it finishing on top.
And better yet, with plenty of life ahead.
Facetime, Replace time: Because really, the biggest concern regarding this roster at the beginning of the season was the defense. Major injuries to Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell at the beginning of the season seemed to weaken the Kings’ defensive corps terribly.
This is when depth and minor league development pays off. The Kings have the ninth-best Goals-Against-Average percentage in the NHL today, allowing a calculated 2.36 goals per game.
That, without the presence of the two biggest penalty-killers, shot-blockers, and lane cloggers on the Kings’ roster. For the Kings to find themselves where they are today without Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene playing regularly, is saying something extremely special.
It speaks to the second-year Vyacheslav Voynov, who plays like a 10-year veteran. It praises Jake Muzzin, who’s poise trumps that of all other Rookie defensemen in the NHL. It thanks Davis Drewiske for his last-minute time, and gives Robyn Regehr a chance to play alongside #8.
But you talk about a backbone
Colorado Down: The Kings are playing the NHL‘s lowest of lows Thursday night at Staples Center, slated to host the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado is in the midst of some dark days, holding the NHL‘s lowest point-total, with internal struggles tagging along for the ride.
Time to pounce.
On who other, than the team Drew Doughty netted his first-career NHL goal against.
Puck drops at Staples Center against the Colorado Avalanche at 7:30PM PST Thursday.
Episode 186 KingsCast TV: Robyn Regehr in, Davis Drewiske out – HERE Follow the blog on Twitter HERE Get your Official KingsCast Apparel HERE KingsCast Hockey Podcast on — Facebook - Twitter - Youtube
The LA Kings push towards the Stanley Cup playoffs continues. In this brand new episode we breakdown the games against the Blues, Stars, Coyotes & Wild, discuss the trade deadline, do a See Ya for Davis Drewiske and welcome the newest King Robyn Regehr. Buckle up, it’s going to be quite a ride!
The Los Angeles Kings and KingsCast are back! In this better-late-than-never season opener episode we discuss the raising of the Stanley Cup Championship banner, breakdown the Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks game and give our predictions for the Pacific Division and Western Conference. Buckle up for what should be a wild ride of a season!
It’s too bad, it really is. And even more so, it’s hard to believe.
Hollywood Ink: Coming from an offseason that saw Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi reel off two major deals that brought elite offensive talent in Mike Richards and Simon Gagne to this roster, the Kings are mired in one of their worst scoring seasons in franchise history. On paper, the moves were drastic improvements. In reality’s results, it’s been anything but. February 27′s NHL trade deadline, even though I hate to say it, may be Dean Lombardi‘s final chance to maintain his managerial career in Los Angeles.
I will say this again, and only because I think it is a major factor in the lopsided differences we’ve seen in offensive production this season and the past, that I target Ryan Smyth as the lead factor on Lombardi’s failures in Los Angeles. It was his biggest deal in 2009, reeling in the veteran forward to mature a young core, it was his biggest loss in 2011, not winning the satisfaction of a proven NHL scorer and allowing him to walk out on his own terms. Many still like the point blame at Smyth here, but it’s a GM’s job to make it work.
Before you point finger at Dean Lombardi, consider the ultimatums in the failures of his signings of Simon Gagne and Mike Richards to bring success to this club. Gagne has been out with a concussion since December 26, who had posted 17 points in 34 games before the injury. As for Richards, he’s been without support, and his play deems little criticism, it’s hard to do the job alone. Again, this is why Ryan Smythpops into the equation again, missing a reliable winger for Phildelphia’s former.
The trade-deadline is nothing I’m seeing big change coming from, nor am I fan of it. Really, the only player the Kings are sure to get anything worthwhile for is Jack Johnson. His contract is certainly tradeable, but then again we’re talking Dean Lombardi here. That’s a big name player, that’s a big time deal, Lombardi doesn’t fit that history, especially with the big moves he made just months ago.
But who knows, it’s gotten to a point of desperation for Lombardi, who is starting to feel pressure as the promise he’s built in LA is crashing hard – and fast. It’s come to the Kings recalling forwards Jordan Nolan and Dwight King from the AHL‘s Manchester Monarchs to provide a Hail Mary boost to this lost offense. That’s not going to solve the problem, neither is a deal that doesn’t involve Jack Johnson.
And let me be clear, Jonathan Bernier has no business getting dealt before the 27th. Bernier is worth more than a last-ditch effort for a GM on the hot seat. At the very least, leave all other options open (including Johnson), and hope for a top-8 Western Conference seed.
That’s all you can hope for at this point, that’s what Dean Lombardi needs to maintain hopes of further employment in Los Angeles.
If you’re going to hit rock bottom, try not to do it here
Where else would you find concourse golf at an NHL game than in Florida? I wouldn’t mind swinging away a few worthless periods at Staples Center. Something they may have to consider.
Unfortunately the only thing taking fans away from the Kings’ miseries are those $9 beers.
The Kings are in Dallas, Texas tomorrow afternoon in an effort to salvage whatever they can from this horrible road swing. Posting a 1-4 record on the trip, the Kings have now seriously put their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
For a bit of good to the heart, here’s a classic against the Dallas Stars at Staples Center back in 2007. Six goals, in less than ten minutes. It’s hard to imagine ’07 being better times, but it flirts with you.
Tune into KingsCast’s Episode 143 HERE
Follow the blog on Twitter HERE Get your Official KingsCast Apparel HERE KingsCast Hockey Podcast on — Facebook - Twitter - Youtube
You want LA Kings hockey? You’ve got it right here! In this show we talk about the games against the Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks. We also give a SEE YA to Ethan Moreau, talk t-shirts and more!
Cat Nipped: Thursday night’s meet with the Florida Panthers brought home two points for the Kings by way of a 2-1 victory, but at an extremely healthy cost. Willie Mitchell, the most stable Kings defenseman other than Rob Scuderi, lasted one shift before calling the night in order to tend to an undisclosed lower body injury – never to return. Mike Richards, undoubtedly the Kings’ most vital asset on the offensive side so far this season, suffered a solid – yet subtle, blow to the head from Florida’s Sean Bergenheim. Richards, who has been placed on the Injured Reserve, is very, very likely to be suffering from concussion symptoms.
Not to say our defense has struggled, because it really hasn’t. But, it has been unstable in terms of personnel and pairing, which has lost this blue-line’s aggressive impact in the offensive zone. Mitchell poses to be a new missing threat for the Kings’ back-end, the loss of a stay-at-home defenseman. So far, Davis Drewiske has filled the gap, and he may continue to dress even if Alec Martinez returns before Mitchell does. Martinez has shown to be somewhat of a liability in the Kings’ zone, Drewiske could possibly see all games available until Willie Mitchell returns to maintain solidity in the defensive zone.
Talk about the last guy you want to see seriously injured, the guy with 10 points in his previous 11 contests, 9 of those points being goals. Mike Richards, he’s been the spotlight performer in all aspects of the Kings’ offense, 5-on-5, the powerplay, and the penalty kill (two shorthanded goals, a hangnail away from three). There wasn’t much luck without Richards in uniform Saturday afternoon, a lone goal being scored off of a Dustin Penner deflection overshadowed by a game filled with missed opportunities and draggy puck movement.
Have you seen puck movement like this from Kings jerseys once this year? Here’s a nice example of entering the offensive zone in valiant form, rather than taking the puck wide for a weak, bad-angle shot with no bodies to even seek rebounds.
At least Kostitsyn’s got ties with the Russian Mafia. That’s kinda cool to couple with an NHL gig
Just to finish
Broken Record Player: You can’t depend on shot totals to link honest analysis, because for the Kings this season, it’s become somewhat of a scapegoat. And when saying this, that’s a mental reaction to their play. Sure, they’ve got no problem going shot-for-shot with another club over a 60-minute span, but if they were to cut down shot total, while raising the percentage of shot quality, we’d be in a better suit.
Looking simple can be great, looking simple can be awful. The difference? The mental status. The Kings are at awful, and it’s coming to the point where smart (yet non-intrusive) passes and decisions are being made to cure a terribly sterile offensive strategy. That means hitting Kopitar low along the boards, or going cross-ice to a defenseman with flat feet. There’s no such thing as simple wrist-shots, snap-shots, or anything you do with the puck to just get it ON NET with this offense. Well actually, I guess there is:
While you were in total shock of Dustin Penner scoring a goal, you missed the player (Doughty) who actually made it happen. Downright spectacular foot movement inside the zone, creates space for a simple snapper ON NET. Damnit! Can’t you see?!?
The Week Ahead: This may be the most important string of contests on the slate so far this season, the Kings are set for two Pacific Division puck-drops, and a meet with the team atop the entire Western Conference and the NHL. Tonight will be the third installment of the Kings’ six matchups with the Anaheim Ducks, who continue to sputter out of contention early, honed at the bottom of the Pacific Division and 14th in the Western Conference with a 1-7-2 record in their previous ten. If Bruce Boudreau is in fact the fix for Anaheim, the results won’t show this year.
Then it’s the NHL‘s best in the Minnesota Wild, who have taken role atop the entire league with 37 points, currently running with four consecutive wins. Their offseason dealings with the San Jose Sharks have paid off dearly, both Dany Heatley (17 pts) and Devin Setoguchi (13 pts) providing serious output for their new club. To finish the week, it’s a meeting with the only club higher in the Pacific Division than the Kings – the Dallas Stars, who sit just one point ahead. This will already mark the fourth meeting this season with Dallas, the Kings faring well for the most part going 2-0-1; however November 23rd’s meltdown still remains a sour aftertaste.
The Five Goal Club: In the Kings’ 26 games played this year, they have managed to hit the 5-goal mark in just four of them. However, that’s where this week’s opponents share a common trait – the Kings have found offensive success against Anaheim (5-3W – 11/17), Minnesota (5-2W – 11/12), and Dallas (5-3W – 10/27). This doesn’t mean much, but facing clubs that the Kings have found relatively recent success against could be a notable mental jolt for this lost offensive group.
Ahh yes…Time for another round of this unecessarily labeled cross-town rivalry
Since Bob Miller no longer can stress the deliciousness of Carl’s Jr. chicken tenders, which are breaded “ON THE PREMISES”, I’ve yet to decide what’s better this season…
Telling us to “Feel the Mexcellence”
Or going bad-ass bold marketing the Outlaw Burger
No child’s play for the Kings this week, especially with Minnesota on the slate
Tune into KingsCast’s Episode 132 HERE Follow ‘Dancing in the Reign’ on Twitter HERE Get your Official KingsCast Apparel HERE KingsCast Hockey Podcast on — Facebook - Twitter - Youtube
The Los Angeles Kings came lumbering back to Staples Center clearly still full on their Thanksgiving treats. In this episode we talk about the games against Blues, Stars and Blackhawks as well as what we’re thankful for. It’s not our most positive show but, hey, it’s the holidays. Thanks for watching!
Out of State: For a club that plugged through possibly the most difficult travel schedule in recent NHL history to start the season, the Kings have been settled in ideal confines for some time now. In the previous six contests, the Kings have hosted five dates at Staples Center, marking the visitors category just once with a quick jump on the highway to see the cross-town Anaheim Ducks.
In that six-game span, the Kings posted a 4-2-0 record, accounting for 8 of 12 possible points. The lingering gray areas surrounding this team’s performance certainly make those results acceptable. The Kings losses came at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings; both slow, frustrating offensive performances. However, the Kings were able to take both matchups from the Anaheim Ducks, although handing a point Anaheim’s way allowing a late goal that extended the first contest to OT and a shootout.
Unique Uni’s: This will be a quick road trip, with back-to-back dates tonight against the St. Louis Blues and tomorrow night against the Dallas Stars. The Kings won’t be donning their regular visitors’ wardrobe, but a sweater that has only made one regular season appearance away from Staples Center in team history – November 2, 2009 at Jobing.com Arena against the Phoenix Coyotes. It’ll be the black and purple crown hemline shirts for both contests on this trip. The Kings are 1-1 in the purple hems this season.
Bernier for One: As expected, and as predicted, Jonathan Quick got the nod for both contests against the Ducks and for Detroit’s visit. Previously looking ahead to Bernier’s next start, I tabbed tonight’s date in St. Louis to be the most plausible – and Terry Murray has notioned those same feelings, as Jonathan Bernier will be in net for the Kings tonight at the Scottrade Center.
It’s best to let Quick occupy the crease against a Pacific Division opponent in Dallas tomorrow. Bernier has just two starts in the Kings’ previous 13 games, and the performances have been nothing above average. Then again, it’s tough to perform well under such a spotty schedule. Quick, like the rest of the Kings roster, looked flubbish in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Detroit, and was also riding his 5th consecutive start. Murray’s goaltending decisions regarding this two-game road set are completely validated.
Not OV-er yet
Not Russian the Process: Even though Dustin Penner and Alec Martinez are now eligible to return from the IR, neither will due to further recovery needs – and maybe, further analysis from Kings’ brass about the situation at-hand. Both Andrei Loktionov and Viatcheslav Voynov immediately injected a boost into this offense, and the roster’s overall tempo.
It was clear in the Anaheim double-take last week that the Kings were playing at a faster, crisper pace than seen so far this year. Don’t be short on admitting, Loktionov and Voynov were huge factors in the upbeat play. It’s not so much that they’ve provided production at a great level, but these two players open a lot more opportunity and space when on the ice. Loktionov has been an upgrade in every facet of a hockey player’s skill-set than Dustin Penner, and Viatcheslav Voynov has shown more poise and control than Martinez on the blue-line, also equaling Marty’s 16 game point-total in the three games he’s been back in the NHL.
Chances are, it’s going to be the same old song for Andrei Loktionov, reporting for AHL assignment upon Penner’s return to the lineup. As for Voynov, there’s no question his status upon Martinez’s return is a hot front office topic. There’s plausible options to consider in efforts to keep Voynov at the NHL level, which could involve waiving Davis Drewiske, keeping Alec Martinez as the 7th defenseman, or trading Martinez. There have been talks, but nothing worth getting into right now. By keeping Martinez and Penner out for this road trip, the Kings could be buying time for more than just injury recovery.
Where ya been?
Secondary Slump: The Kings’ 3rd and 4th lines haven’t been providing too much spark to offensive production, if any at all. Quite frankly, you’re going to have to back-track to the Kings’ 5-goal outpour against the Minnesota Wild to find any evidence, Colin Fraser‘s goal. I wouldn’t go as far to say they’ve been a detriment, but consistent scoring still should be coming from your back-end forwards.
Speaking of which, Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis have absolutely disappeared, and it looks like they literally will tonight in St. Louis – both are healthy scratches. Both players have a single assist to their names, and have dressed in a heavy majority of games played this season. Richardson got high-praise for his 5-point series in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the San Jose Sharks, I had difficulty buying into it – Richardson’s current output is showing why. As for Lewis, he’s seriously reliable on the defensive end, he tends to disappear when crossing the red-line.
This looks like a guy who’s got an itchy ear
This also looks like a guy who’s about to get canned. 1-7-3 in your last 11 ain’t gonna cut it, bubs – even with a new contract. That sucks.
Tune into KingsCast’s Episode 130 HERE Follow ‘Dancing in the Reign’ on Twitter HERE Get your Official KingsCast Apparel HERE KingsCast Hockey Podcast on — Facebook - Twitter - Youtube
The Los Angeles Kings are almost at the top of the Pacific Division. With Drew Doughty out of the lineup, a new defenseman has emerged in Slava Voynov. In this episode we talk about the games against the Devils and Stars, celebrate winning with a special segment and re-visit an old segment entitled “How’s That One Guy Doin’?”. Question of the Day: Should the Kings Trade Bernier?