Los Angeles Hockey: Alexander Steen

Kings: Looking to rebound in St. Louis

November, 22, 2011
Kings (10-7-3, 23 points) vs. St. Louis Blues (10-7-2, 22 points) at Scottrade Center, 4:30 p.m. (PT)

Five storylines to track:

1. Rule or exception? – Kings coach Terry Murray is hoping his team’s performance Saturday against visiting Detroit was just a hiccup and not a step back in progression. The Kings had won three straight heading into the game and seemed to have ironed out a few kinks, but then had 15 giveaways, many in the neutral zone, in the 4-1 loss to the Red Wings. They also went without a power-play goal for the first time in seven games and were stumped in 5-on-5 play as well.

2. Two for two – The Kings played one of their best games of the season against St. Louis in their home opener last month. Simon Gagne had two goals and an assist and Jonathan Quick stopped 27 shots for the first of his franchise-record three consecutive shutouts. The Kings haven’t been as sharp in St. Louis, losing their last three games at Scottrade Center. They last won there Oct. 10, 2009, the same night the Dodgers eliminated host St. Louis from the National League Championship Series.

3. More Slava – Before the Kings flew to St. Louis on Monday afternoon, Murray announced that second-year defenseman Alec Martinez would not play in St. Louis or Wednesday in Dallas because of a shoulder injury suffered 10 days earlier against visiting Minnesota. The Kings can afford to let Martinez take his time with his recovery because rookie Slava Voynov is more than holding his own. In eight games over two different stints with the Kings this season, he has five points and a plus-2 rating. Martinez has two points and a minus-2 rating in 16 games.

4. New man in town – There have been a few changes since the Kings last met the Blues, most noticeably a new coach, Ken Hitchcock, who took over for Davis Payne last month after the Blues limped to a 6-7-0 start. Under their new leader, the Blues have gone 4-0-2 and have allowed just six goals in regulation. Hitchcock and Murray have coached together in the past and both demand similar styles of play. Don’t expect the Kings to put another five goals on the board, but three should be enough to win.

5. Power struggle – St. Louis has been absolutely abysmal on the power play. The Blues have scored just six man-advantage goals in 59 opportunities, a success rate of only 10.2 percent. Only one team in the last 11 seasons has finished under 11 percent. The top four point producers for the Blues, Alexander Steen, T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk and David Backes, have not scored a power-play goal, neither has Patrik Berglund, who led the team with eight last season.

Ducks: Top line feasts in 4-2 victory vs. Blues

October, 16, 2011

ANAHEIM -- Maybe it was the broken sticks, or simply the breadsticks. Either way, the Ducks found a way to brush off several mini-slumps with one swipe of the hands by Corey Perry on Sunday night at Honda Center.

Perry scored Anaheim’s first power-play goal of the season early in the third period against the visiting St. Louis Blues, the winning goal in a 4-2 victory that pushed the Ducks record to 3-1, their best start since 2006.

The goal was Perry’s first point of the season, matching the longest he has ventured into the fall without hitting the score sheet. Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf also assisted on the play for their first points of the season.

The goal was made easier when St. Louis forwards Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen were forced to kill the penalty empty handed after their sticks broke early in the power play.

The players quickly took advantage, as Getzlaf passed to Selanne down low and he sent a cross-pass through the crease to Perry, who redirected the puck into the net for a 3-1 lead at the 3:40 mark of the final period.

“We knew what was going on,” Perry said of the stick-less defenders. “That’s why we worked it up, we worked it around. They couldn’t get sticks in the lanes to block passes, so we had an advantage.”

Bobby Ryan contributed two goals and an assist and may have helped unlock the top line in another way, suggesting Getzlaf and Perry accompany him to an Italian restaurant earlier Sunday, where they indulged in breadsticks, a bona fide slump buster, according to Ryan.

“Breadsticks are key, that’s right,” Ryan said with a laugh.

(Read full post)

Kings: More breakdowns as St. Louis jumps ahead, 3-1

January, 13, 2011
After the 2nd period:

St. Louis Blues 3, Kings 1

The good: The Kings erased a 1-0 deficit 5 minutes 37 seconds into the second period. Roman Polak was in the penalty box for hooking birthday-boy Kyle Clifford and just as Polak stepped out of the gate Alec Martinez fired a shot at the St. Louis goal, which got a piece of Michal Handzus’ stick and was deflected past goalkeeper Jaroslav Halak. Handzus has goals in back-to-back games for the first time since last February and four points in the last three. The Kings limited the Blues to one shot on goal the first 11 minutes of the period and killed their only power play so far.

The bad: One of the reasons the Kings got off to such a great start this season was the play of goaltender Jonathan Quick. He was among the top three goalies in the league in wins, save percentage, goals-against average, you name it. But his play has really flattened out in the last month, the main reason why he wasn’t selected to the All-Star Game. The Blues’ second goal was a prime example of the struggles he has faced recently. Even worse, the go-ahead goal came against St. Louis’s fourth-line players, who have spent more time in the AHL than the NHL this season. Chris Porter took a seemingly weak shot at the goal and the puck hit Quick in the chest and caromed out front, where Ryan Reaves beat Trevor Lewis to the loose puck and poked it back in for a 2-1 lead. Drew Doughty, the other Los Angeles player who seemed a lock to make the All-Star Game coming into the season but was passed up, was burned on the second goal as Brad Boyes won the puck against the boards, skated around Doughty and passed to Alexander Steen, who beat Quick for his 15th goal of the season.

The in between: As was mentioned after the first period, there’s a lot of empty seats around Staples Center, but they still managed to muscle up some loud boos as the period wound down. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the Kings' locker room right now. What does coach Terry Murray have to say to get this team to play with some fire, even desperation? Dodgers manager Don Mattingly dropped the ceremonial first puck, maybe he can provide some advice.

Kings: Quick turned red by the Blues

December, 16, 2010
St. Louis Blues 6, Kings 4

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Jonathan Quick allowed a season-high five goals and the Kings lost another key member of their defensive unit to injury Thursday in a 6-4 loss at St. Louis.

THE STAT: Both teams combined for six goals in the second period, but the Blues scored the only two of the third.

TURNING POINT: With about three minutes remaining, the Kings lost a face-off in their offensive zone and got caught chasing the loose puck, leading to a 3-on-2 headed the other way. Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez were forced to give ground as the Blues came at them with speed and Alexander Steen got off shot from the slot that beat Quick and gave St. Louis a 5-4 lead.

HOT: Kings defenseman Jack Johnson had two assists, four shots on goal, four blocked shots and probably a few bruises after giving and taking some body shots down the stretch. Anze Kopitar also had a goal and an assist for the Kings, giving him 10 points in the last six games.

NOT: Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, in just his second game back after missing five weeks because of a broken left wrist, left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. The Kings were already down a defenseman when Matt Greene was unable to go after suffering an upper-body injury in Monday’s game at Detroit.

GOOD MOVE: The Kings went down by two goals with 4:53 remaining in the second period, but rallied to tie the score behind goals from Wayne Simmonds and Dustin Brown. Unfortunately, those were the last goals they’d score.

BAD MOVE: The Blues came into the game as the lowest-scoring team in the Western Conference but didn’t have a problem piercing the Kings for a season-high six goals.

NOTABLE: The Kings were without some key defensemen because of injury, but that can't be used as an excuse against the Blues, who were missing their top three forwards and top three defensemen because of injuries.

UP NEXT: at Nashville, Saturday.