Los Angeles Hockey: Martin Hanzal

Kings headed to Stanley Cup finals after Game 5 win vs. Phoenix

May, 23, 2012
Western Conference finals

Game 5

Kings 4, Phoenix Coyotes 3 (OT)

(Kings win the series, 4-1)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: In the blink of an eye, the Los Angeles Kings ended 19 years of frustration Tuesday night. Dustin Penner’s overtime goal off a long rebound at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz. finished off the Phoenix Coyotes and sent the eighth-seeded Kings to their second Stanley Cup final in franchise history.

THE STAT: The Kings are just the second eighth-seeded team to advance to the Stanley Cup finals in NHL history, beating the top three seeds in the West along the way.

TURNING POINT: Just as the Coyotes were getting whistled for off sides, Kings captain Dustin Brown laid a powerful hip check on Phoenix defenseman Michal Rozsival, leaving him sprawled on the ice. Several Phoenix players swarmed around Brown and let him know they weren’t happy with the hit. After Rozsival was helped to the bench with his left leg dangling, Mike Richards won a neutral zone face off. The puck went back to Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, who quickly passed it ahead. Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle got to it first, but Penner blocked his clearing pass. Penner retrieved the puck, left it for teammate Jeff Carter, who took a blast at Phoenix goalie Mike Smith. The puck hit Smith in the chest and shot back into the slot. Richards had the first whack as he raced toward the crease but missed. Penner came in from behind after the puck settled and shot it past the partially screened Smith with 2:18 left in the overtime.

HOT: The post-game handshake wasn’t as gentlemanly as most. The Coyotes were still heated over Brown’s hit on Rozsival and a few let Brown know they didn’t appreciate the play. The most animated Phoenix player was center Martin Hanzal, who must have forgot he was suspended for Game 3’s loss after a dangerous boarding penalty on Brown in Game 2.

NOT: It was a tough overtime period overall for the officials. They missed a delay of game penalty on Voynov when he flicked the puck over the glass, thinking an icing penalty had just been called on Phoenix. They then called an interference penalty on Drew Doughty midway through the overtime period when it was pretty clear Doughty had inside position on the Phoenix player as they scampered after the puck. After the Kings killed the penalty, they were called for offsides when Doughty appeared to trap the puck on the blue line, eliminating an odd-man rush.

GOOD MOVE: Richards and Penner combined on the third goal for the Kings, giving them a brief 3-2 lead with 6:17 left in the second period. Penner had the puck on a 2-on-1 rush and shot it off Smith’s pads, leaving a plumb rebound for Richards to knock into the net.

BAD MOVE: Less than three minutes after taking the 3-2 lead, Taylor Pyatt sent a cross-ice pass toward Yandle, who was charging toward the crease with Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi on his hip. For some reason, Scuderi tried to use his right skate to thwart the pass, rather than his stick, and the puck was deflected about 12 inches into the air, hitting Yandle’s shin pads and getting redirected into the far side of the net.

NOTABLE: By reaching the Stanley Cup in 14 games, the Kings tied seven other NHL teams for the quickest route to the finals. The Kings have also won 10 consecutive playoff games on the road dating to last season, another NHL record. They’re also the first team to win eight straight playoff games in a single year. The Kings scored their fifth shorthanded goal of the postseason in the opening period, becoming the first team with five shorthanders in the playoffs since the Detroit Red Wings had six in 2008. Brown has five short-handed points in these playoffs, the first to have that many since Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings in 2008.

UP NEXT: Game 1 at the New York Rangers or New Jersey Devils, May 30.

Kings look to finish off Coyotes in Game 5

May, 22, 2012
Western Conference finals

Game 5 (Kings lead series, 3-1)

Kings vs. Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena, 6 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Repeat performance: The Kings have been down this road before. One month ago today, to be exact. They missed out on a chance to sweep the Canucks in the opening round by losing Game 4 at home, then returned to Vancouver on April 22 and finished the job in Game 5. Obviously, the Kings don’t want this series to extend any further than it already has. With the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils tied up, 2-2, in their Eastern Conference final, a victory tonight would also guarantee the Kings a few days off before the start of the Stanley Cup final.

2. Road warriors: The Kings are 7-0 on the road in these playoffs and have won nine straight playoff games away from Staples Center overall. There’s no real secret to their success, other than a little team bonding that goes with being on the road, away from all the distractions of home life. Another win tonight and the Kings will break the NHL record for the most consecutive road victories in the playoffs. Of course, that will just be a side note if the Kings are victorious. Advancing to their second Stanley Cup final in franchise history will certainly steal the headlines.

3. Power up: The power play has been a sore spot all season for the Kings, but the playoffs have been especially painful. The Kings are 6 for 70 with the man advantage in this postseason, an efficiency rate that’s about half of what it was in the regular season. During the off day Monday, some of the Kings talked about getting shots off quicker so the Coyotes won't have time to move into shooting lanes and block shots. Phoenix blocked 12 in Game 4, half of those on the power play.

4. Shooting gallery: In addition to the 12 blocks, the Kings had 36 shots on goal in Game 4 and another 28 that were off target. That’s a heavy volume of rubber thrown toward the Phoenix net, and a trend that needs to be continued if the Kings hope to wrap up this series. Coyotes goalkeeper Mike Smith is a lot like Jonathan Quick of the Kings. The more shots he faces, the better he seems to get. Kings captain Dustin Brown spent a good part of Monday’s optional practice working on tip shots in front of the net. It might take a deflection or two to get one past Smith in Game 5.

5. Coyote comebacks: The Coyotes were boosted by the return of Martin Hanzal and Adrian Aucoin in Game 4, though their numbers were hardly spectacular. Hanzal, who was suspended for Game 3 after his boarding penalty on Brown in Game 2, did not record a shot in 11 minutes 29 seconds of ice time. Aucoin, who made his series debut after getting injured in the previous series against the Nashville Predators, had one shot on goal in 12:19 and was sent to the penalty box for hooking late in the first period. Aucoin is still dealing with the undisclosed injury and will be a game-time decision tonight, coach Dave Tippett said after the morning skate Tuesday.

Kings chasing history heading into Game 4 vs. Coyotes

May, 20, 2012
Western Conference final

Game 4 (Kings lead series, 3-0)

Kings vs. Phoenix Coyotes at Staples Center, noon

Five storylines to track:

1. Record pace – This isn’t just an L.A. thing anymore. The Kings have gone international. Not just because the world-class Amgen Tour of Southern California bike race will come skidding to a halt outside Staples Center as hockey fans are pouring in, but because no one has seen anything like the playoff run the King have strung together. They’ve won eight straight playoff games and 11 of 12 overall, leaving them one win shy of the Stanley Cup finals. Since the first round of the playoffs was stretched to best-of-seven in the 1987 season, no team has reached the finals in less than 14 games. The Kings would become the first if they can wrap up the sweep against the Coyotes.

2. Not as hot – The only major professional sports team that’s hotter than the Kings right now is the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA, who have won 17 consecutive games, including all seven in the playoffs. Interestingly enough, the Spurs are scheduled to play inside Staples Center later Sunday night, when they’ll try to finish a second-round sweep against the Los Angeles Clippers. Like the Kings, the Spurs got hot in the weeks leading up to the playoffs and built on that momentum. Unlike the Kings, the Spurs have won multiple championships.

3. Hot n’ cold – Special teams continue to be a mixed bag for the Kings. They’ve scored just six power-play goals in 64 man-advantage situations in the playoffs, well below their dismal regular-season average. On the positive side, they haven’t allowed a power-play goal since Game 5 of the opening-round series against the Vancouver Canucks. They’ve allowed just three power-play goals in all. What's more impressive, they’ve scored four shorthanded goals to put them at plus-1 on the penalty kill.

4. Fraser returns – After missing Games 2 and 3 for a family matter, it appears Colin Fraser will return to the lineup. Fraser, who has been a fixture on the fourth line since returning from injury last fall, practiced with the team Saturday. It should be interesting who’s the odd man out. Kyle Clifford had replaced Fraser the last two games, but Clifford was also a regular fourth liner before suffering a concussion in the first game of the playoffs, causing him to miss the next nine. Brad Richardson and rookie Jordan Nolan would be the other likely options.

5. Hanzal returns – The arrival of Game 4 means the return of Phoenix center Martin Hanzal. He was suspended for Game 3 for his boarding penalty on Dustin Brown in Game 2. Hanzal will certainly add another dimension to the Coyotes’ forward group, but the Kings have seen top players come and go for Vancouver and St. Louis as well, and it hasn’t changed their mindset. They wait for coach Darryl Sutter to send them over the wall and play against whomever's on the ice at time. They simply focus on their role and let everything else take care of itself.

Kings: Game 3 kicks off historic sports weekend in L.A.

May, 17, 2012

Western Conference finals

Game 3 (Kings lead series, 2-0)

Kings vs. Phoenix Coyotes at Staples Center, 6 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. In the mix – One of the greatest (and busiest) sports weekends in L.A. history begins a little early tonight. The Kings kick off six playoff games in four days, joining the Lakers and Clippers in their postseason runs. There’s also a weekend series at Dodger Stadium and a bicycle race that will come to an end right outside Staples Center, just as hockey fans are pouring in the doors. The Kings have been a sideshow in Southern California's sports landscape for most of the last 20 years, it’s about time they’re finally part of the main event.

2. First to three – The Kings are 12-23 all-time in Game 3s, but 2-0 this postseason. Just as the previous two rounds of these playoffs, the Kings have arrived home for Game 3 after winning the first two games on the road. So far, securing a third victory has been more difficult than earning any of the first two. The Vancouver Canucks played their best game of the opening-round series before losing, 1-0, when the Kings produced on their only decent scoring chance (Vancouver came back to win Game 4 before losing in five). In the second round against the Blues, the Kings didn't put away St. Louis in Game 3 until a third-period goal by Drew Doughty.

3. Making it look easy – The last time the Kings had back-to-back shutout victories in the playoffs was May 2001. Of course, back in October Kings goalie Jonathan Quick strung together a franchise-record three straight shutouts, so scoreless streaks are nothing new to him. The Kings figure to lean on Quick a littler heavier as this series winds down, especially since Coyotes netminder Mike Smith figures to be at his best after allowing seven goals in the first two games. Many expected this series to be a showdown of goalies, but so far it hasn’t been close.

4. The best retaliation – The Kings accomplished something in Game 2 they haven’t done since Game 1 of the opening-round series against the Canucks. They scored two power-play goals. If the Kings continue to dominate in 5-on-5 play and Quick remains a brick wall, you can expect the frustration level to rise and the Coyotes to begin their cheap shots. The Kings have done a good job, for the most part, of not engaging Phoenix in its after-the-whistle tactics. Now the Kings just need to keep making the Coyotes pay when they go on the power play.

5. Man down – The Coyotes will be without one of their key offensive players, center Martin Hanzal, who was suspended for this game after his violent boarding penalty on Dustin Brown in the third period of Game 2. The Kings have dealt with standout players on the opposing team coming and going throughout these playoffs and, quite frankly, they really haven’t paid much attention. Hanzal’s absence will be noticed a lot more by Phoenix, which is already having trouble manufacturing offense. Their top lines are looking even more like a three-legged stool now.

Kings try to chill after physical Game 2 win

May, 16, 2012
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Just a handful of players took the ice for practice Wednesday at Toyota Sports Center, the rest of the Los Angeles Kings were probably bathing in ice after the rough-and-tumble Game 2 victory the night before against the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz.

Just as they'd done the previous two rounds against the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues, the Kings took a two-games-to-none lead in the Western Conference final that now veers to L.A.

The day after the 4-0 victory in Game 2, Kings coach Darryl Sutter was purposely vague when discussing his team’s bumps and bruises, but indicated that everyone who played Tuesday night would be ready for Game 3 on Thursday at Staples Center.

Dustin Brown was likely the sorest of the group.

He was checked head-first into the boards by Phoenix forward Martin Hanzal midway through the third period and laid on the ice for several seconds before skating to the bench. Earlier in the game, he took a stick to the back of the legs from Phoenix goalie Mike Smith, dropping him to the ice in pain.

“It’s almost comical to watch because we think he runs on batteries sometimes,” said Kings left wing Dustin Penner. “You knock him down but you can’t keep him down. He takes a lot of punishment and he gives it out, and he has been that type of leader all year.”

The Kings did a better job of controlling their emotions than they did in their Game 2 victory in the previous series against the Blues. In both games, the Kings built sizable leads, forcing the opposition to take drastic measures.

(Read full post)

Kings set club record with seventh straight road playoff win

May, 15, 2012

Western Conference finals

Game 2

Kings 4, Phoenix Coyotes 0

(Kings lead the series 2-0)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: If the Los Angeles Kings didn’t have such a fervent fan base waiting for them back home, they might want to play all their postseason games on the road. The Kings won their franchise-record seventh consecutive game away from Staples Center in these playoffs, outplaying the Phoenix Coyotes for the second straight game at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz.

THE STAT: Two players who weren’t even on the Kings during the first four months of the season, who missed out on the December coaching change and most of the frustrating, low-scoring losses, gave L.A. all the points it would need Tuesday night. Jeff Carter broke out of his playoff slump with a hat trick against the Coyotes, and rookie Dwight King notched the other goal, giving him three goals in the first two games of this series. Carter’s hat trick was the first by an L.A. player in the postseason since Wayne Gretzky in 1993.

TURNING POINT: King gave the Kings a 1-0 lead on a deflection off a point shot from defenseman Drew Doughty about 13 minutes into the game, and that held up through the first period. The Coyotes came out with much more intensity in the second, but the Kings killed that momentum when Dustin Penner did some nice work down low to get the puck to Carter, who scored 4:47 into the period for a 2-0 lead. After that goal, you could almost hear the puck drop inside Jobing.com Arena.

HOT: Carter and King, who combined for two goals in the first nine playoff games, have scored six in the past two. Over the long haul, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick might have edged ahead of teammate Dustin Brown as the front-runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy. Quick stopped 24 shots for his second shutout of the postseason. He has allowed 16 goals in 11 playoff games and stopped 309 of 325 shots for a sizzling .951 save percentage. He has allowed more than two goals in a game only once in the playoffs, a Game 4 loss against the Vancouver Canucks in the opening round, L.A.'s only playoff defeat of 2012.

NOT: Coming into the postseason, Phoenix forward Radim Vrbata was hotter than the 108-degree temperature outside the arena, owning five goals in the final five regular-season games to give him a career-high 35. He has been a no-show in the postseason, however, producing two goals in 13 playoff games.

GOOD MOVE: Some of Carter’s best plays of the postseason have come off his skates. Interesting, considering that coming into the playoffs, his foot injury was one of the main storylines. He used his skate to redirect a centering pass to Penner in Game 1 of the Vancouver series, and Penner scored the game winner in the 4-2 victory. His skate was in the right place at the right time Tuesday after Anze Kopitar walked the puck in on a 5-on-3 and took a close-range shot that banked off Carter’s laces and into the net for a 3-0 second-period lead.

BAD MOVE: Two of the best offensive players for the Coyotes, Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal, were ejected from the game for careless boarding penalties, and goalie Mike Smith likely will hear from the league as well after intentionally swinging his stick like a lumberjack and thwacking the back of Brown’s legs as he camped in front of the crease. Even more amazing, Brown was called for diving on the play. He was in so much pain, he could barely skate to the penalty box.

NOTABLE: The Kings have won nine consecutive road playoff games overall, tying the NHL record set by the New York Islanders in 1982-83. ... Kings fourth-line center Colin Fraser did not play because he was tending to a family matter. Kyle Clifford, out since Game 1 of the Vancouver series because of a concussion, replaced him in the lineup but had just 2:29 of ice time, long enough to earn a holding penalty on Doan. ... The Kings have not trailed in the playoffs since midway through first period of Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues. ... The Kings have scored first in eight of 11 playoff games and won the other three. ... The Kings have outscored their opponents 13-5 in the first period of the playoffs. ... The Kings have killed 28 straight penalties and 44 of 47 overall in the playoffs.

UP NEXT: Game 3, Thursday at Staples Center, 6 p.m. PT.

Kings looking for repeat performance in Game 2

May, 15, 2012

Western Conference finals

Game 2 (Kings lead series, 1-0)

Kings vs. Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena, 6 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Just getting started – The Kings have won the opening game in the first three rounds of this postseason, and each time the opponent vowed to be more assertive in the second game. Well, the Kings have outscored their previous two opponents by a combined score of 5-0 in the first period of Game 2, scoring two goals while shorthanded. The Kings are a confident, confident group right now, and the Coyotes will need to do more than just try harder if they want to slow down this runaway locomotive.

LOSPHO2. Road warriors – The Kings have won all six road games in these playoffs, eight straight postseason games away from Staples Center overall and four straight Game 2s on the road dating back to 2010. Only one other team in NHL history has won nine straight road games in the playoffs, the New York Islanders in 1982-83. The Kings have become so focused on their play that they seem to forget whether they’re playing at home or on the road. When a team is that locked in, it’s no surprise they’re playing so well.

3. Line mismatch – The Coyotes had no answer for the Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown-Justin Williams line. None. Not only did they combine for two goals and two assists in Game 1, but they did a great job of playing keep away with the puck, and as soon as they lost it to Phoenix, they usually swiped it right back. The Coyotes tried to counter the Kopitar line with their own No. 1 group of Martin Hanzal, Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata, but they had no chance. Even after Phoenix coach Dave Tippett juggled his line combinations late in the game, they didn’t have much of an answer for the KBW line.

4. Surprise, surprise – Kings goalie Jonathan Quick gave up the softest goal of the playoffs, and possibly his career, when Derek Morris scored from the red line late in the first period to tie the score, 1-1. The Kings were dominating the first period and out-shooting the Coyotes, 13-3, just before the goal. If Quick has an Achilles heel, it’s his tendency to get complacent when not facing a lot of shots. That said, expect Quick to be extra focused from start to finish in Game 2 and give the Kings every chance to win another game.

5. Saving face – The referees were throwing players out of the faceoff circle right and left in Game 1, which could leave teams at a disadvantage if they don’t have another capable option on the ice. Good thing for the Kings, their roster is loaded with centers who can step in and do the job. Brad Richardson was called upon after Colin Fraser got tossed, and he came through by winning all four of his draws. Jeff Carter had to step in when Mike Richards was asked to leave, and he went 2-0 on the drop. It’s that type of depth that’s serving the Kings well in all phases of these playoffs.

Kings: Third-round playoff primer

May, 8, 2012


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.

Kings: Feeling the heat in Phoenix

February, 21, 2012
Kings (27-21-11, 65 points) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (29-21-9, 67 points) at Jobing.com Arena, 6 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Shuffling the deck – After the Kings were shut out, 1-0, for the second straight game Saturday night, coach Darryl Sutter called out his top line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams, citing their lack of contributions. He questioned whether he could break the trio up, however, seeing as there weren’t much better options. Well, he came up with a few during practice Monday, dropping Brown back to right wing on the second line with Mike Richards and rookie Dwight King, and moving another rookie, Jordan Nolan, to left wing on the top line.

2. Uncharted territory – In their 44-year franchise history, the Kings have never experienced three consecutive shutout losses. They've been shut out three straight times, way back in the 1968-69 season, but two of those were 0-0 ties. The Coyotes were the team that blanked the Kings on Thursday at Staples Center, and Mike Smith will likely be back in goal for Phoenix. Smith has been red-hot, allowing one goal or less in his last six starts. Interestingly, Smith was in goal during the middle game of three straight shutouts by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick back in October, which was also a first for the franchise.

(Read full post)

Ducks: Hiller gets hook vs. Coyotes

October, 23, 2011

ANAHEIM -- Heading into this fall, a major area of concern for the Ducks was how well goalkeeper Jonas Hiller would bounce back after missing most of the second half of last season while battling vertigo-like symptoms.

He put much of the curiosity to rest after winning three of his first four starts, but Sunday night against Phoenix brought back troubling memories of how quickly things can go wrong.

The Coyotes scored five goals on 19 shots in a tick under 28 minutes against Hiller, just the right number to defeat the Ducks, 5-4, at Honda Center.

Hiller was removed from the game after giving up three goals in a 3:09 span early in the second period, giving Phoenix a 5-2 lead. Backup Dan Ellis managed to shut down the Coyotes the rest of the game, stopping 16 shots in the process, but the damage had already been done. Hiller has now given up eight goals in his last two starts.

“When you look back on it, the flurry of goals in the second period sunk our hockey club,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. “We probably should have done something after the fourth goal, instead of waiting for the fifth."

The most troublesome goal allowed by Hiller came long before the second-period barrage. Less than a minute after the Ducks took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Ryan Getzlaf with 5:58 remaining in the opening period, Martin Hanzal skated into the offensive zone and let a wrist shot fly from the top of the left faceoff circle.

With no traffic between Hanzal and the goal, the puck still found a way under Hiller’s left arm pit and skidded across the goal line.

“The second goal is my fault,” Hiller said. “It was a bouncing puck, a rolling puck, but I still should have made the save.”

The Coyotes then scored three straight goals in the second period to chase Hiller from the game. To his defense, Hiller’s teammates didn’t help the situation by committing ill-timed turnovers in their defensive end.

(Read full post)

Kings: Murray still doesn't agree with replay call

January, 21, 2011
EL SEGUNDO--While Kings general manager Dean Lombardi was getting hit in the wallet with a $50,000 fine for comments he made toward an NHL executive following the Kings’ 2-0 loss Thursday night against the Phoenix Coyotes, Kings coach Terry Murray wasn’t backing down from what he believed was a bad call.

Martin Hanzal of the Coyotes appeared to raise his stick above the crossbar when he batted in a goal during the second period, giving Phoenix a 1-0 lead and shifting the game’s momentum. Phoenix had been out-shot, 18-6, prior to the disputed play. The goal was credited by on-ice officials and, after a lengthy review by replay officials in Toronto, was allowed to stand.

"It was no goal," Murphy said after practice Friday. "I could see that from the bench. We all came back to the bench and everybody was talking about it. We’re just waiting for the face-off to come down to their end. When there was such a length of time on the review, I’m dumbfounded."

"How can that ever come down to being called a goal on a video review. That’s why there’s multi-million dollars spent on these systems around the rinks, to get it right. Where’s the credibility in the whole thing if I can see it from the bench?"

"There is no question when you go to the review that the stick is two feet above the cross bar. I sill haven’t figured it out, I’ve watched it a dozen time this morning and I still don’t know how they can look at it and say it’s a goal."

Lombardi told a reporter for the Kings’ web site following the game that Mike Murphy, the league’s vice president of hockey operations, which oversees instant replay, was biased against Los Angeles because he did not get the general manager job with the Kings. He referred to another replay that did not go in the Kings' favor in a one-goal loss to Ottawa in November.

According to his biography on the Kings' web site, Murphy spent time with the Kings as a player, assistant coach, assistant general manager and head coach for parts of two seasons before he was replaced behind the bench by Rogie Vachon in December 1987. Murphy later spent two seasons as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Lombardi apologized to Murphy first thing Friday morning and later issued the following statement.

"I spoke to the commissioner today and he made it very clear to me that my actions last night were inappropriate and detrimental to the game," Lombardi said. "There is no question that his assessment is correct and the punishment fits the crime. Just as important, I apologized to Mike Murphy this morning and I sincerely appreciate his willingness to accept my apology. Like the team must learn from its mistakes, the GM has to learn from his mistakes as well."

Kings: Still powerless as Phoenix goes up, 2-0

January, 20, 2011
After the 2nd period:

Phoenix Coyotes 2, Kings 0

The good: The Kings have 23 shots on goal, compared to just 10 for Phoenix. Unfortunately, that’s as good as it gets. Lucky for Los Angeles, the crowd at Staples Center is smaller than usual, so the boos aren’t quite as loud as they could be. To be fair, the Kings have had a number of good scoring chances, they just can't get the bounce they desperately need.

The bad: The Kings went scoreless on four more power plays in the second period, running their scoreless streak on the man-advantage to 18 over the last 17 periods. The Coyotes went on their second power play when Justin Williams was called for tripping Kyle Turris with 11:20 remaining in the period and it took them just eight seconds to capitalize. A slap shot from the left face-off circle was deflected into the air and was inches from Matt Greene’s nose when Martin Hanzal batted it into the net. Greene vehemently protested, saying Hanzal’s stick was above the cross-bar and he appeared to be correct, but after a lengthy review the goal stood. Heading into that power play, the Kings had out-shot the Coyotes, 18-6. About a minute later, Michal Handzus took his first shot on goal in three games for the Kings. The puck hit Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in the upper body, trickled over his shoulder, banged off the crossbar and went to the side of the goal. Lee Stempniak retrieved the puck and skated the length of the ice before beating Kings goalie Jonathan Quick for an unassisted goal and a 2-0 lead. Stempniak is becoming the new Kings-killer, taking over for Shane Doan. He has scored four of his 12 goals against Los Angeles this season.

The in between: The Kings picked up the intensity after the second goal from Phoenix, laying some pretty good licks on a few Coyotes. Unfortunately, they need two goals to tie in the third period and they’ve only scored two over the previous eight periods.

Kings: Bringing the heat to Phoenix

October, 21, 2010
Kings (4-1-0) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (1-2-1) at Jobing.com Arena, 7 p.m. (PST)

Five storylines to track:

1. Doughty injury - Kings defenseman Drew Doughty left the 4-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night with an upper-body injury and wasn’t seen again. Kings coach Terry Murray said Doughty would not accompany the team to Phoenix, but didn’t rule out a return later in the five-game trip. Murray said the injury occurred on a late hit by Erik Cole in the neutral zone. Here’s a replay of the hit, as well as some verbal pokes at Cole from the folks at NHL network.

2. Greene cleared – Not long after Doughty was knocked from the game, it was announced that veteran defenseman Matt Greene had been "medically cleared to resume full hockey activities." Greene, 27, had offseason surgery on his left shoulder. He's not the offensive threat that Doughty is, but ranked third among NHL defensemen with 238 hits last season and recorded at least one blocked shot in 55 of his 75 games. He led the Kings with 126.

3. Simmonds returning to form – After a very bland start to the season, third-liner Wayne Simmonds is beginning to show signs of the player that scored 40 points in his sophomore year in the NHL last season. He took just one shot on goal against Carolina, but it was deflected into the net by Michal Handzus, tying the score in the final seconds of the first period. "Simmonds was very good," Murray said after the game.

(Read full post)