Los Angeles Hockey: Peter Harrold

Kings-Devils for Lord Stanley's precious Cup

May, 29, 2012
5/29/12
12:18
PM PT


The Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils are scheduled to kick off the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Here’s a breakdown of what to watch for as the series unwinds.

KINGS OFFENSE vs. DEVILS DEFENSE

The Kings managed just one goal in two meetings against the Devils this season, but those games were played back in October and this isn’t the same L.A. team. Dustin Brown continues to be the tip of the sword for the Kings, scoring at least five points in each of the first three rounds. Anze Kopitar has scored at least one point in 11 of 14 playoff games, and Justin Williams has hit the scoresheet in 10. The second line of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner also figures to give the Devils problems. Brown, Kopitar, Penner and Carter should be especially effective using their size against New Jersey’s defense. Marek Zidlicky leads the Devils in total ice time, but he’s only listed at 5 feet 11, 188 pounds. Andy Green, who also logs heavy minutes on the blue line, is not much bigger at 5-11, 190, and Peter Harrold, who rarely cracked the lineup while playing for the Kings the last five seasons, stands 6-0, 190.

The Edge: Kings

LANJDEVILS OFFENSE vs. KINGS DEFENSE

The Devils have a triple threat up front in Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, each of whom has scored seven goals in the playoffs. What has made the Devils especially formidable in the postseason is the production from fourth liners Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier. They’ve combined for nine goals and nine assists in 18 playoff games. By comparison, the five players who have rotated on the fourth line for L.A. have combined for two goals and one assist. The Kings are very aware of the top-to-bottom scoring potential on New Jersey, and they’ll counter with a blue-line group that features a nice balance of veteran stay-at-home defenders (Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi and Matt Greene) and offensive-minded youngsters (Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov). Together, they’ve helped limit the opposition to 22 goals in 14 games, while scoring five of their own.

The Edge: Devils

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Kings have been brutal on the power play this postseason, converting on just 8.1 percent of their opportunities (6-for-74). If there’s a silver lining heading into Games 1 and 2 in New Jersey, they’ve been better on the road, coming through on 5 of 42 chances (11.9 percent). Even that number dwarfs their regular season average of 17 percent. The Devils have improved their power-play efficiency in the playoffs, coming in with an 18.2 percent success rate after finishing at 17.2 during the regular season. They’ve been even better at Prudential Center, cashing in on 8 of 32 man-advantage situations, good for a 25-percent clip. The tables are turned on the penalty kill. The Kings have allowed just five power-play goals and scored five shorthanded. Their 91.2 success rate is better than their 87-percent clip during the regular season and that mark was fourth best in the league. The Devils allowed just 27 power-play goals during the regular season, leaving them No. 1 in the league at 89.6 percent, but they’ve seen 16 power-play goals hit the back of their net in the postseason for a 74.2 percent kill rate.

The Edge: Devils

GOALIES

The series is quite even until you start comparing the men behind the mask. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has built on his Vezina-caliber regular season by elevating his game to another level in the playoffs. He has allowed more than two goals just twice in 14 games and brings a minuscule 1.54 goals-against average into the finals. As great as Tim Thomas was last season while leading the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup title, his GAA was just 1.98 in the postseason. Two years ago, Antti Niemi of the Chicago Blackhawks won a championship with a 2.63 average in the playoffs. The Devils will counter with 40-year-old Martin Brodeur, a three-time Cup winner and a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame when that time comes. Playoff opponents are averaging a half a goal more against Brodeur than Quick, however. He has allowed more than two goals five times in the playoffs, including three on nine shots in Game 3 of the opening-round series against the Florida Panthers, earning an early seat on the bench.

The Edge: Kings

COACHES

Both benches are backed by coaches who have been with their teams for less than a year, yet they've managed to squeeze the most from their talent after so-so regular seasons. After coming on board in mid-December, Kings coach Darryl Sutter gradually showed his players how to buy into each game both physically and emotionally. He maintained the defense-first system that previous coach Terry Murray had instilled, but made a few tweaks to the lineup that paid off in the playoffs. His most brilliant move was moving Penner on to the second line with Richards and Carter late in the first-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, and dropping rookie left wing Dwight King back to the third line, giving him more favorable matchups. Penner has responded with eight points in the last nine games and King scored five goals in that span. Devils coach Peter DeBoer wears his emotions on his chest much more louder than Sutter, something his players appreciate. DeBoer’s best move of the postseason was likely reinserting Harrold into the lineup following a Game 1 loss to the top-seeded New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals. Harrold provided the Devils a veteran presence on the back end, and New Jersey went on to win four of its next five games.

The Edge: Kings

KEY STATS

The Kings are 8-0 away from Staples Center in these playoffs, outscoring the hosts, 30-13, and netting all five of their shorthanded goals. They’ve swept the opening two games on the road in each of the first three rounds, putting their opponents on their heels before they had a chance to push back. The Kings are the first team in NHL playoff history to win their first eight games on the road, and their 10-game postseason road winning streak dating to last season is also an NHL record. The Devils are 5-2 on their home ice in the postseason, outscoring the visitors, 25-17. Another key area is the goals-against average for each team in the playoffs. The Kings are allowing an average of 1.6 goals on 29 shots a game, while New Jersey is giving up 2.3 goals on an average of 27.6 shots.

Prediction: Kings in six

Kings: Not even a 3-1 deficit can sour this mood

February, 28, 2011
2/28/11
8:50
PM PT
After the 1st period:

Detroit Red Wings 3, Kings 1

The good: It’s actually a great day to be a Kings' fan. The organization went out Monday and traded for a top-shelf left wing in Dustin Penner and didn’t lose any players off the current roster. Of course, Penner isn’t here yet but he should play Thursday night against the visiting Coyotes. The other big news was the four-year contract extension signed by right wing Justin Williams, who is tied for the team lead with 20 goals. Check back later for a pre-game video interview with Kings general manager Dean Lombardi discussing these pivotal moves. The Kings gave their fans a reason to cheer early on when Michal Handzus scored just over four minutes into the game on assists by Jarret Stoll and Anze Kopitar.

The bad: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick allowed two early goals and both took the same route, right through his legs. The first goal had no business getting by him. Drew Miller slid a shot from a 90-degree angle and Quick took a swipe at the puck with his stick but missed. The puck continued through his legs, hit one of his skates and was redirected past the goal line. Thirty one seconds later, Jiri Hudler took a shot from just inside the blue line and Daniel Cleary deflected the rubber through Quick’s five-hole for a 2-1 lead with just under 13 minutes remaining. The Kings were then called for back-to-back high-sticking penalties that had Kings’ fans booing as loud as we’ve heard this season. The first was on defenseman Matt Greene after he laid a hard lick on Tomas Holmstrom. The only problem was, Greene’s stick never touched Holmstrom. The Kings killed that penalty but couldn’t kill the second, this one on Stoll. Nicklas Lidstrom sent a laser passed Quick with 2:16 left, giving the Red Wings their 3-1 lead.

The in between: Since Penner has not yet arrived and Detroit is not prone to fight, the Kings designated enforcer Kevin Westgarth as a healthy scratch and inserted Peter Harrold in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 6. Harrold, primarily a defenseman, is playing a fourth-line forward role but was limited to just three shifts in the first period.

Kings: At least Bernier looks sharp

January, 6, 2011
1/06/11
8:35
PM PT
After the 1st period:

Kings 0, Nashville Predators 0

The good: Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier looks relaxed and ready against Nashville, probably because he’s 2-0 against the Predators this season. Bernier stopped 11 shots in the opening period, bailing out the Kings on more than one occasion after they turned the puck over in their own zone. Ryan Smyth is the most active forward on the ice so far, which says something because he’s also the oldest member of the Kings at age 34. Peter Harrold, a natural defenseman who was a healthy scratch the last six games, is playing forward on the fourth line and he has two shots on goal, which ties Drew Doughty and Wayne Simmonds for the team high.




The bad: The Kings looked about as flat as a frozen lake during the opening period. As previously noted, they struggled just to clear the puck from their own zone on several occasions. The juggling of the lines isn’t having an impact so far. Dustin Brown and Justin Williams, two of the top three scorers on the team, don’t have a shot on goal, neither does Michal Handzus, who was moved from the third to the second line in an effort to spark more offense. They are making life easy for Nashville goalkeeper Anders Lindback, who allowed three goals on the first nine shots in his last start—Dec. 18 against the visiting Kings—and didn’t make it through the first period.

The in between: The Kings had the only power play of the opening period. Williams just missed on a redirection in front of the net and Doughty got off a nice wrist shot into the chest of Lindback, but the Kings need to do better if they want to end this four-game losing streak. They haven’t lost five in a row in regulation since they dropped eight straight in December 2007.

Harrold, Clifford come up big for Kings in 3-2 win

December, 2, 2010
12/02/10
11:56
PM PT


LOS ANGELES--Down by a goal in the third period of a must-win game Thursday night against the Florida Panthers, the Kings needed someone to step up in a big way.

Leave it to a rookie who had not yet scored an NHL point, and a utility player who had been a healthy scratch the last two games and hadn't scored a goal since last January to provide one of the most important points of the season thus far.

The 3-2 victory at Staples Center ended a stretch in which the Kings lost four straight, seven out of eight and fell from first in the Western Conference to last in the Pacific Division.

Kyle Clifford, a 19-year-old rookie who was a long shot to make the team out of training camp, set up the tying goal after cutting to the net from an angle. The puck was poked away by Florida defender Bryan McCabe, but went straight to Kings defenseman Peter Harrold, who saw an opening and shot it past Florida goalkeeper Tomas Vokoun 2 minutes 36 seconds into the third period.

Anze Kopitar then tucked in the winner with 2:43 remaining in the game.

“[McCabe] was down real low in front of the net because we had guys crashing,” Harrold said. “[The puck] ended up right on my stick and [Vokoun] couldn’t even see me….because he hadn’t made it all the way across the net and he had a bunch of guys right in a row, right in front of him.”

Fellow defenseman Matt Greene, who had a season-high eight hits, said Harrold often produces when given the chance.

“Every time he gets in the lineup, he does great things,” Greene said. “It was really good to see him get rewarded tonight…just an unlikely candidate given that he’s in and out of the lineup so much.”

Clifford, who has quickly become a crowd favorite for his willingness to mix it up with opponents, said his move to the net was something he has been working on both on the ice and in the video room.

“Just a power move,” said Clifford, who had a season-high six hits. “Getting to know what works in this league.”

Kings win, 3-2, on Kopitar's game-winner

December, 2, 2010
12/02/10
10:04
PM PT
The free fall has ended, for now.

Anze Kopitar slapped in a rebound with 2 minutes 43 seconds remaining Thursday night and the Kings held on to beat the Florida Panthers, 3-2, at Staples Center and end a skid that had dropped them from first in the Western Conference to last in the Pacific Division.

The Kings had lost four straight and seven of eight coming in.

The winning goal was set up when Kings center Michal Handzus lost a face-off, but got the puck back with a hard forecheck in the right-wing corner. He passed out to Dustin Brown, who hammed a slap shot at the Florida goal. It deflected out to Kopitar who tucked it into the net for his ninth goal of the season.

The Kings tied the score, 2-2, at the 2:36 mark of the third period. Kyle Clifford cut to the net with the puck on his stick and, just before he got off a shot, it was poked out front by Florida defenseman Bryan McCabe.

Kings defenseman Peter Harrold, playing just his ninth game this season and first since Nov. 24, was in the right place and slammed the puck past Florida goalkeeper Tomas Vokoun for his first goal since last January.

Clifford got the assist for his long-awaited first NHL point.

Trevor Lewis missed a great opportunity for his first NHL goal a minute later when a rebound came off to the side, but he missed the open net.

Justin Williams started the game on the top line with Kopitar and Brown, but Williams was back on the second line with Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll in the third period, and Wayne Simmonds was back at right wing on the top line.

More to come from the locker room.

Kings: A few updates heading into Buffalo game

November, 19, 2010
11/19/10
2:52
PM PT
The puck is scheduled to drop in Buffalo in about 2 1/2 hours and the Kings' web site is reporting that back-up goalie Jonathan Bernier will get the start in goal, with Jonathan Quick between the posts Saturday in Boston. (Bernier will also get the start Wednesday in Montreal, which is about a half hour from his hometown of Laval, Quebec).

Up front, left wing Dwight King is moving to the top line in just his second NHL game. Quite a promotion for the kid, but that's how desperate the Kings are to get some production out of that position. King will be the fifth different left wing to play with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown this season.

Jake Muzzin is out and Peter Harrold is in on defense. Muzzin, a rookie, was criticized by coach Terry Murray for his poor play in the Kings' loss Wednesday night against the visiting Blue Jackets, so that move is no surprise.

As for Bullalo, the big news is veteran defenseman Craig Rivet is scheduled to return to the lineup after missing the last five games with food poisoning.

Five games? Food poisoning?

Anyway, the Sabres might also get right wing Patrick Kaleta back on the ice. He missed the last game with a bruised sternum and is a game-time decision.

Kings: Doughty talks injury, return

October, 29, 2010
10/29/10
2:47
PM PT
EL SEGUNDO--Kings defenseman Drew Doughty talked to the media for the first time since suffering a concussion against Carolina on Oct. 20. He’s officially out for the game Saturday night against New Jersey at Staples Center, but the team is optimistic he will return for its next game Thursday against visiting Tampa Bay.

Here’s what Doughty had to say:



Also, forward Wayne Simmonds is questionable for the New Jersey game with a lower-body injury suffered Thursday night in a 5-2 win at Dallas. Kings coach Terry Murray said he’ll have a better idea of his availability after Saturday’s morning skate.

The team held a team meeting at Toyota Sports Center, but only defensemen Peter Harrold and Jake Muzzin, forwards Brayden Schenn, Kyle Clifford, Andrei Loktionov, Trevor Lewis, Kevin Westgarth, Scott Parse and goalkeeper Jonathan Bernier practiced afterward.

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.

(Read full post)

Kings: Road doesn't get any easier

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
4:16
PM PT
Quick hits on the Kings five-game road trip that begins tonight in Phoenix.

The loss of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty to an upper-body injury comes as the team begins a difficult stretch. After tonight’s game at Phoenix (1-2-1), the remaining four opponents, Colorado, Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas, have a combined record of 15-7-2 heading into Thursday. Three of them lead, or are tied for the lead, in their respective divisions.

Peter Harrold will replace Doughty in tonight’s lineup. Harrold is a serviceable replacement on the blue line but hardly an offensive threat, totaling only 22 points in 145 NHL games. This will also mark his first appearance of the season.

Brayden Schenn and Kevin Westgarth will return to fourth-line duties tonight. Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis are out. Schenn has been knocking on the door of his first NHL goal, and don't be surprised if Westgarth drops his gloves if someone gets near one of the Kings' stars.

With a victory tonight in Phoenix, the Kings (4-1-0) would match their best start since the 1992-93 season, the last time they qualified for the Stanley Cup finals. Getting there won’t be easy. Not only are the Kings playing the second game of back-to-backs, they will likely see Ilya Bryzgalov in goal for the Coyotes. He has been a thorn in the Kings’ side, owning a 11-4-2 career record and a 2.40 goals-against average.

With six games remaining this month, it's not too soon to start looking at the best October in club history. That would be 1990, when the team was 9-3-1 and went on to reach the division semifinals.

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