Los Angeles Hockey: Joel Quenneville

Kings: Changing up for the Blackhawks

November, 27, 2010
11/27/10
1:20
AM PT
Chicago Blackhawks (12-11-2) vs. Kings (13-8-0) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. First-line shakeup – As was reported here Friday afternoon, Kings captain Dustin Brown is moving from right wing to left wing on the front line, and Wayne Simmonds will jump from the third line to Brown’s previous spot at right wing. Kings coach Terry Murray said the move is meant as a temporary patch until left winger Alexei Ponikarovsky returns from a broken finger next month. Unless, of course, they start scoring in bunches, then he’ll have another tough decision to make.


2. Home cookin' – The Kings were on the road for just a week, but it must have seemed like two months for their jittery fans who have watched them lose five of the last six games. It wasn’t long ago the Kings were setting a club record for the longest home-winning streak to start the season, and their 8-1-0 record is still one of the top home marks in the league. Chicago, meanwhile, will be playing in the final game of a six-game road trip that began Nov. 17 in Edmonton.

3. Adaptable D-manDrew Doughty is on his third defense partner in the last three weeks. He was initially paired with Willie Mitchell, who was then sidelined because of a broken wrist Nov. 6. Murray then tried him with another stay-at-home defenseman, Rob Scuderi, but a shakeup on the blueline now has him paired with rookie Alec Martinez, better known for his offensive knack. Doughty said Friday that his strengths as a two-way player allows the Kings to use him with different personnel. "That’s why they put me with Martinez, because he can do his things offensively and I’ll be back there to cover for him," he said.

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Kings: So far, no back-to-back issues

October, 28, 2010
10/28/10
5:08
PM PT
Back-to-back games. A coach’s nightmare. A player’s worst enemy. A trainer’s headache. Even the equipment guy is run ragged.


Most of the time the opponent is just sitting back, feet on the coffee table, waiting to pounce on the weary travelers.

While that’s the standard in professional sports, and especially for an organization as physically demanding as the NHL, the Kings have performed remarkably well in the second of back-to-back games the last two seasons.

In fact, they’ve played considerably better than in the first.

The Kings, who play at Dallas today at 5:30 p.m. (PT) after losing, 3-1, in Chicago on Wednesday night, finished 9-2-1 last season in the second of consecutive games. They were 4-4-4 in the openers.

And the season before, when they finished with 22 fewer points during the regular season, the Kings were 6-6-1 in the second game and 4-8-1 in the first.

So far this season, the Kings are 0-2 in the second half and 2-1 in the first.

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Kings: Counting down in the Windy City

October, 27, 2010
10/27/10
8:00
AM PT
Kings (6-2-0) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (5-4-1) at United Center, 5:30 p.m. (PT)

Five storylines to track:

1. Decision time – The clock is about to strike midnight for Kings rookies Brayden Schenn and Kyle Clifford. This being the ninth game, the Kings will need to decide before Thursday’s game at Dallas whether to keep one or both 19- year-olds, or send them back to their junior teams. If they remain on the roster, the club will be on the hook for the first year of their NHL contracts, regardless if they stick with the team. Schenn has two assists in six games, Clifford has no assists or shots on goal in four appearances.




2. Power play heating up – In the last two games, the Kings have climbed from 30th in the league in power-play efficiency to a tie for 15th after scoring three extra-man goals and another on a 5-on-3 opportunity. They still have a ways to go to match their 20.8% success rate on the power play last season, which was seventh-best in the league, but they are definitely headed in the right direction.

3. Bernier gets a turn – Jonathan Bernier seems to be adjusting to his first-ever stint as a backup goalkeeper. As the confirmed starter against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, the Kings hope the final period of his last appearance will carry over to the Windy City. He looked rusty and indecisive while giving up three goals in the first 35 minutes against visiting Carolina on Oct. 20 but was sterling down the stretch killing two power plays in the 4-3 victory.

4. The Chicago Shuffle -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville went back to the drawing board at practice Tuesday and re-shuffled all four lines and a few positions. Patrick Sharp, a natural center who has a league-leading eight goals, moved to right wing on the first line with center Jonathan Toews and former fourth-liner Jack Skille. Sharp took the spot of Patrick Kane, who took his minus-7 rating down to the third line. For more details on the changes, check out this link to ESPNChicago.

5. A healthy dose of Hossa – Chicago forward Marian Hossa is feeling fit as a fiddle and that’s not a good sign for opponents. The 31-year-old Czech hasn’t scored a point in the last three games but remains on pace to score 50-plus goals this season. Some are saying he looks like the player he was during his career-best 2006-07 season, when he scored a franchise-record 100 points as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers.

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