Los Angeles Hockey: Dave Tippett

Kings have heard this all before

May, 31, 2012
5/31/12
4:47
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Los Angeles Kings celebrateAP Photo/Julio CortezThe Kings have won Game 1 in all four playoff series this season, sparking talk of refocusing by opposing coaches.

NEWARK, N.J. -- Another Game 1 victory by the Los Angeles Kings in this incredible playoff run, another pledge by the opposition to improve areas of its game and come back with a better result.

Heard this before?

Shortly after losing the opening game of this postseason to L.A. 4-2, Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said the power-play unit needed to execute better after failing on all five opportunities. To his dismay, Kings captain Dustin Brown scored two short-handed goals in Game 2, the difference in another 4-2 defeat.

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock then asked for more commitment from his top players after losing Game 1 of the second-round series, but he could only wince as the Kings scored four unanswered goals in the first period of Game 2, throwing a bucket of cold water on the Blues in the 5-2 victory that eventually led to a series sweep.

Then it was coach Dave Tippett’s turn to proclaim that the Phoenix Coyotes needed to take some lessons from their 4-2 loss to L.A. in the opening game of the Western Conference finals. The only lesson the Coyotes learned was that the Kings could play even better, as Jeff Carter scored a hat trick in Game 2 and the Kings delivered their best all-around performance of these playoffs in the 4-0 victory.

Now it’s New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer who sat before the media Thursday morning, a day after his team lost Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Kings, 2-1 in overtime, and said his team needed an all-around better effort Saturday night in Game 2 back at Prudential Center.

“We’ve got to be a little sharper in all our areas,” he said.

Ring a bell?

Thanks to a previously scheduled Radiohead concert at the Prudential Center on Friday night, the Devils will have an extra day to analyze tape, pinpoint where they came up short and determine how they can improve.

As for the Kings, they said they’ll be ready for another push back from the opposition, especially in the first 10 minutes.

“We’ve just got to make sure before the game that we’re fully prepared for that, and we’ve got to exceed their work ethic,” said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. “They’re going to be desperate.”

(Read full post)

Kings don't believe they're part of an act

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
2:39
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EL SEGUNDO -- Apparently, flopping isn’t limited to the NBA.

According to Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, the NHL is falling into the same trap that has been a hot topic in the NBA playoffs. Players are exaggerating contact in an effort to coax referees into calling penalties. He indirectly accused the Los Angeles Kings of engaging in such theatrics during their Game 3 victory Thursday night at Staples Center, giving them a commanding 3-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.

His description: Embellishment.

“The game is turning a little dishonest and it’s embellishment by the players,” he said following the 2-1 loss. “When it’s done well, it’s very hard for the referees, very hard, because if you fall down near the boards, or drop your stick or throw your head back, you’re putting the referee in a very tough situation.”

Asked about those comments Friday morning, a few of the Kings answered as if they were watching a different series.

“[Tippett] kind of cut the refs down, too, and they have the best of the best here,” second-line center Mike Richards said. “They know what’s embellishment and what’s not. I thought they’ve called a pretty good game.”

The Kings have been awarded 17 power plays in the series, compared to 10 for the Coyotes, and L.A. has scored twice with the man advantage. Phoenix, meanwhile, is still looking for its first power-play goal. The Kings also had more power plays against the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said the disparity in power plays could lead to some finger-pointing by the opposition, but the Kings have done a better job in the postseason of staying out of the penalty box. Most notably, they’ve limited the retaliation penalties that usually occur during a post-whistle scrum.

A prime example came in Game 3, when the Coyotes twice went to the box for unreciprocated roughing penalties, putting the Kings on the power play

“Whoever has more power plays that game is going to be happy and whoever has less is going to think the other team embellished,” Scuderi said. “We’ve been on the other end of it at times and felt that we were shortchanged. Apparently, in this series, it’s the other way around.”

The Kings were called for a diving penalty in Game 2, but that left many in the locker room scratching their heads. Dustin Brown was blindsided by a slash across the back of his legs by Phoenix goalie Mike Smith, immediately dropping him to the ice. Brown vehemently disagreed with the diving call.

“I still don’t understand, watching the clip, but most refs haven’t been slashed in the back of the leg, either,’’ Brown said the day after Game 2.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he usually talks with referees before a series to point out which players have a tendency to embellish contact. He said the Vancouver series had the most dives, but each series has gotten increasingly better.

“Supervisors and/or referees will come over and say, ‘You’ve got to cool it, next time it’s a dive,'“ Sutter said. “I haven’t heard that yet this series and, quite honestly, it really hasn’t been a part of it.”

Tippett, meanwhile, said during a conference call Friday afternoon that he's ready to turn the page.

“I’ve said my piece on embellishment,” he said. “Give L.A. credit, they’ve played very well.”

Kings: Breaking down the West final vs. Coyotes

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
12:58
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The Kings and Coyotes are scheduled to kick off their Western Conference final Sunday at 5 p.m. PT at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz. Here’s a breakdown of what to watch for as the series unwinds.

KINGS OFFENSE vs. COYOTES DEFENSE

KingsCoyotesThrow out what the Kings did against the Coyotes during the regular season. L.A. didn’t have Jeff Carter for any of those six games. Yea, Carter has been a bit of a disappointment in the playoffs so far, scoring just one goal in nine games, but his presence has earned the attention of the opposition, giving other forwards more room to work. Dustin Brown has been his team's most productive player in the playoffs, as well as against the Coyotes this season, accounting for three goals and two assists. The defensemen have also played a big role in the offense, producing four of the 13 goals against Phoenix this season and contributing 10 assists. The main player standing in the way will be Coyotes goalkeeper Mike Smith, who went 3-1-1 against the Kings this season withnine goals against and a .938 save percentage. He’s 8-2-1 in his career against L.A. with a 1.62 GAA and two shutouts. The Coyotes had the league's fifth-lowest GAA during the regular season (2.37). The Kings had the second-lowest goals-for average (2.29), though they averaged three goals a game over the final 21 games and into the playoffs.

The Edge: Kings.

COYOTES OFFENSE vs. KINGS DEFENSE

Only four players on the Coyotes scored goals against the Kings this season and one of them, defenseman Raffi Torres, is serving a 25-game suspension for a brutal hit in the opening-round of the playoffs. Radim Vrbata has been the biggest thorn in the side of L.A., scoring five goals and registering two assists. He has been especially good on the road, scoring 21 of his 35 goals away from Jobing.com Arena, tying for seventh in the league in road goals. Shane Doan has picked apart the Kings during his career, scoring 30 goals in 87 games, including two this season. The only other team he has scored 30 goals against is the Dallas Stars. The Kings will counter with goalie Jonathan Quick, who went 3-1-2 against the Coyotes this season with two shutouts, but has otherwise struggled against the Desert Dogs in his career. In 22 starts, the most he has made against any team in the NHL, he’s 10-9-3 with a 2.57 GAA. The Coyotes averaged 2.56 goals a game during the regular season, 18th best in the league. The Kings had the second-lowest GAA at 2.07 a game.

The Edge: Kings.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Kings were weak on the power play during the regular season and have gotten worse in the playoffs. On the other hand, they had one of the best penalty-kill units during the regular season and have become even stingier during the postseason. The Coyotes have slightly improved on both their power play and penalty kill rates in the playoffs, and were better than the Kings in both categories in their six head-to-head matchups during the regular season.

The Edge: Coyotes.

GOALIES

Among the goalies with at least four playoff appearances this postseason, Quick is No. 1 in goals-against average (1.55) and save percentage (.949), while Smith is third (1.77) and second (.948). The career numbers against the Kings listed above would favor Smith, who is in his first year as a No. 1 goalie, but Quick has been a lot better lately against the Coyotes. Quick has also played a big role in knocking off the top two seeded teams in the Western Conference this postseason, while Smith only had to deal with the sixth-seeded Blackhawks and fourth-seeded Predators.

The Edge: Kings.

COACHES

Both coaches seem to have squeezed the most out of their players this season. Dave Tippett guided a low-budget, league-owned Phoenix team to its first Pacific Division title in franchise history. Tippett, who replaced Wayne Gretzky as coach shortly before the start of the 2009-10 season and then went on to win the Jack Adams Award that year, has pushed all the right buttons this season, most notably giving Smith a shot to be the No. 1 goalie. Kings coach Darryl Sutter took over in mid-December and gradually put his fingerprints on the team. The Kings have inherited Sutter’s intensity and emotional bond to each game. He’s given players such as Trevor Lewis, Jordan Nolan and Dwight King important roles and they’ve responded with key contributions along the way.

The Edge: Coyotes.

KEY STATS

The Coyotes were the third-least penalized team during the regular season, averaging 9.2 penalty minutes per game. They’ve maintained a similar rate in the postseason, meaning the Kings probably won’t see a lot of power-play time in this series. As noted above, L.A. hasn’t done much with their man-advantage situations anyway, but they’ve been great on the penalty kill, wiping out 35 of 38 power plays and scoring four shorthanded goals. Both teams have also made a habit of scoring first in their playoff games. The Coyotes have scored the game’s first goal in seven of their 11 games, winning six. The Kings have scored the first goal in six of their nine games, winning five. Interestingly, the three games in which the Kings trailed first they came back to win.

Prediction: Kings in five.

Kings: Third-round playoff primer

May, 8, 2012
5/08/12
6:37
AM PT

QUICK FIRST LOOK

Opponent: Phoenix Coyotes

Regular-season records: Kings, 40-27-15, 95 points (8th in the Western Conference); Coyotes, 42-27-13, 97 points (3rd in the Western Conference)

Playoff schedule: TBA

Previous meetings this season:

Oct. 20 at Jobing.com Arena -- Kings 2, Coyotes 0

Playing in front of an announced crowd of 7,128, about 10,000 fewer than showed up for the Coyotes' series-clinching win Monday night in Phoenix, Jonathan Quick stopped 28 shots for the second of a franchise-record three consecutive shutouts. The win also represented the 100th of his career. Dustin Brown gave the Kings a 1-0 lead with a second-period power-play goal, and Kyle Clifford made it 2-0 later in the period off a centering pass from Kevin Westgarth. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty did not play for the second straight game after injuring his shoulder against the Flyers.

Oct. 29 at Jobing.com Arena -- Coyotes 3, Kings 2 (OT)

Doughty returned from a five-game absence because of the shoulder injury but wasn’t a factor as Daymond Langkow scored with 44 seconds left in overtime after his shot deflected off the stick of now-departed Kings defenseman Jack Johnson. The Kings began overtime with 1:46 remaining on a power play but couldn’t capitalize. Mike Richards had provided the Kings a 1-0 lead early in the second period, and Anze Kopitar tied the score at 2-2 with 6:30 left in regulation, ending a nine-game goal-less streak against the Coyotes, his longest against any team in the NHL.

Dec. 26 at Staples Center -- Kings, 4, Coyotes 3

By the time these teams met again, the Kings had a new coach behind the bench in Darryl Sutter. This game was memorable for a few reasons. The Kings scored more than two goals for the first time in 15 games, Simon Gagne suffered a season-ending concussion and Rob Scuderi scored his only goal of the season four minutes into the game to give the Kings a 1-0 lead. Willie Mitchell and Brad Richardson also scored rare goals for the Kings before Brown notched his ninth of the season, which turned out to be the game winner. Phoenix defenseman Raffi Torres, currently serving a 25-game suspension for an illegal hit in the first round of the playoffs, scored two goals for the Coyotes.

Jan. 5 at Staples Center -- Kings 1, Coyotes 0 (OT)

Quick had another Vezina Trophy-caliber performance, outdueling Phoenix goalie Mike Smith for his sixth shutout of the season. Doughty scored a controversial goal in overtime after banking a shot off the skate of Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson as Johnson stood in the crease. Phoenix coach Dave Tippett and team captain Shane Doan complained vigorously to reporters after the game, saying Johnson had interfered with Smith on Doughty's goal.

Feb. 16 at Staples Center -- Coyotes 1, Kings 0

Tempers flared early as Brown laid out Phoenix defenseman Rostislav Klesla four-and-a-half minutes into the game, leading to a fight with Doan a few minutes later. Klesla ended up missing three weeks with an upper-body injury. Richards later fought Martin Hanzal, and Colin Fraser completed the fight-filled first period by scrapping with Torres. Radim Vrbata ended up scoring the game’s only goal with four minutes left in the second period. Vrbata had five goals against the Kings this season, the most against any team.

Feb. 21 at Jobing.com Arena -- Coyotes 5, Kings 4 (SO)

In perhaps the lowest stretch of the season for the Kings, they let a two-goal second-period lead slip away and lost for the third straight game. After getting shut out in the previous two losses, the Kings figured they were back on track after scoring three unanswered goals in the opening period. Even when the Coyotes cut the deficit to one, the Kings answered with a goal by Justin Williams with just over eight minutes left in the second period. But the Coyotes got one back on a goal by Doan, and Vrbata tied the score with two-and-a-half minutes left in regulation on his team's third power-play goal of the game, giving Phoenix a chance to win in the shootout.

Playoff fact: The Kings and Coyotes, formerly the Winnipeg Jets, have never met in the postseason.

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