Los Angeles Hockey: Sidney Crosby

W2W4: Key stats for Monday's games

April, 28, 2014
Penguins at Blue Jackets, 7 ET (Penguins lead series 3-2)
* Sidney Crosby & Evgeni Malkin (PIT): 0 goals on 32 combined shots in series
* Sidney Crosby (PIT): 0 goals in last 10 postseason games (longest streak of his career)
* Team to score 1st has lost each game in series
* Blue Jackets: 27.3% (6-22) on power play in series (19.3% in regular season)

Avalanche at Wild, 9 ET (Avalanche lead series 3-2)
* Home team has won each game of series
* Nathan MacKinnon (COL): leads all players with 10 points this postseason
* Nathan MacKinnon (COL): 10 points in series are the most ever by a rookie under age 20 in his first playoff series
* Teams are a combined 3-33 on power play in series

Sharks at Kings, 10 ET (Sharks lead series 3-2)
* Kings: won last 2 games in series after losing 1st 3; looking to become 4th team in NHL history to come back from 3-0 series deficit
* Kings: outscored Sharks 9-3 in last 2 games (wins); were outscored 17-8 in 1st 3 games of series (losses)
* Marc-Edouard Vlasic (SJ): questionable for Game 6 (upper body); has never missed a playoff game in his career (88 straight)

Kings: Time to give the Canucks the brush-off

April, 18, 2012
Western Conference Quarterfinals

Game 4

Kings vs. Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center, 7 p.m. PT

(Kings lead the best-of-seven series 3-0)

Five storylines to track:

1. History lesson -- Get out your curling brooms; the Kings are going for the sweep. This wouldn’t be a typical sweep, but the first time the top-seeded team in the NHL (or NBA, for that matter) has been swept out of the first round. No easy task, as the Canucks have played better and better as the series has unfolded, and a four-and-out could lead to major changes in the offseason, most likely from the top down. The Kings are already meandering in uncharted waters, as they’ve never held a 3-0 series lead in franchise history. Seems pretty obvious they’d like to take care of business Wednesday night and avoid another trip to Vancouver for Game 5.

2. Game-time decision -- The biggest question heading into Game 4 probably won’t have a definite answer until shortly before game time, but Daniel Sedin, out the past 12 games with a concussion, went through practice Tuesday and skated Wednesday morning at Staples Center, and all indications point to Vancouver's leading goal scorer giving it a go. Sedin is no Sidney Crosby, but he does comprise one of the league’s most dangerous tandems with his twin brother, Henrik. How much Daniel Sedin can contribute is another story. He admitted to being out of shape after sitting out most of the past four weeks and hasn’t had any contact. Cory Schneider also gets his second straight start in goal for Vancouver.

3. Powerless -- The stat that continues to jump off the score sheet is the power-play futility by the Canucks. Or maybe it’s just the dynamic penalty kill by the Kings? Either way, the 0-for-14 by Vancouver has been as key to this series as anything Jonathan Quick or Dustin Brown has accomplished for the Kings. The Canucks were heading in this direction coming into the series. Over their last four games of the regular season, the Canucks went 16 straight power plays without scoring. In the past seven games overall, they're 2-for-34. Having both Sedins on the ice would surely be a boost to that unit.

4. Time to shine -- Jeff Carter is due. He doesn’t have a goal in this series and has gone the past seven games overall without hitting the back of the net. In his past 14 postseason games, he has just two goals. He’s known as a proficient goal scorer, evident by the 144 he put up during the previous four regular seasons, but he’s also building a reputation as someone who disappears in the playoffs, whether on the ice or off in the trainer’s room. Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams also are due to light the lamp this series, but at least they've contributed an assist in each game.

5. Richardson in, Loktionov out -- Kings fourth-line winger Kyle Clifford will be out of action for a third consecutive game after taking a brutal hit from Byron Bitz in Game 1. Bitz, by the way, is available to return after serving his two-game suspension for the illegal hit. Brad Richardson, sidelined since undergoing an emergency appendectomy April 9, is ready to play and will assume Clifford’s spot on the checking line. Andrei Loktionov, who was called up to fill in for Richardson and then for Clifford, will be a healthy scratch. Richardson gives the Kings more speed and mobility than Clifford, and more grit and toughness than Loktionov, so the Kings should be in good shape.

Kings: Scoring a concern as Penguins pay visit

November, 4, 2011
Kings (6-4-2, 14 points) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (8-3-3, 19 points) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. "Offensively challenged" – That was the best description Kings defenseman Jack Johnson could come up with following a 3-0 loss Thursday night against visiting Edmonton, the second straight game the Kings have been shut out at home. Heading into Friday’s games, the Kings were tied for 27th out of 30 teams in scoring, averaging just 2.19 goals a game. Only the Ducks and New York Islanders were worse. What’s keeping the Kings above water is their defense, which is tied for second in the NHL with a two-goals-against average. Kings coach Terry Murray juggled his lines during the loss against the Oilers, even playing centers Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards together for a stretch, but he’s still searching for the golden key to unlock the scoring puzzle.

2. Man in the middle – Kopitar was the leader of the pack when it came to poor performances against the Oilers. He did not record a shot on goal and finished with a team-high four giveaways and a minus-2 rating. Kopitar, in fact, has had a negative plus-minus rating in three straight games, something he hasn’t experienced in nearly two years. If the Kings are to end their three-game losing streak against Pittsburgh, they'll need their best offensive player to perform near the top of his game. When Kopitar’s playing well, everything else seems to fall into place.

3. Mental and physical block – In recent games, the Kings are finding it difficult to get shots through opposing traffic. The Oilers had 22 blocked shots Thursday night, and Dallas combined for 51 blocks in two games against the Kings last month. The Penguins don’t figure to make the lanes any easier to navigate, as they enter the weekend ranked eighth in the league in blocked shots. They're also fourth in hits, seventh in face-off percentage and eighth in takeaways. That should help explain how they’re still second in the league in victories, despite playing without their best player, Sidney Crosby.

(Read full post)

Kings: Stoll, Quick continue shootout success

March, 25, 2011

In just its sixth season of existence, the NHL shootout doesn’t have enough historical data to distinguish an all-time great shooter from a good one, or a goalkeeper who specializes in one-on-one competition vs. one who's just on a lucky streak.

But the Kings have two players who are certainly on their way to establishing new watermarks for a single season.

Jarret Stoll scored his eighth goal in his ninth shootout opportunity this season, leading the Kings to a 4-3 victory Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center, and goalkeeper Jonathan Quick improved to 9-0 in shootouts this season after letting just one of four slip by.

Their success is a big reason why the Kings sit in fifth place in the Western Conference standings.

"We're in a position where every point means a lot," Quick said.

According to NHL records, Stoll is on pace for the highest regular season shooting percentage in the shootout, while Quick still has a little more work to do.

Mathieu Garon, now a goalkeeper for the Columbus Blue Jackets, went 10-0 for Edmonton in 2007-08, allowing just two goals on 32 attempts. Half his victories came on the road, where he stopped all 14 shots. Quick, by comparison, has stopped 34-of-41 shootout attempts (.829). Not stellar, but certainly good enough.

Quick is quick to credit the shooters for his perfect record. There’s no question that Stoll’s success has benefited Quick.

"We've got guys scoring goals," Quick said. "I'm just trying to hold up my end."

Stoll came into the season just 4-for-13 on shootouts but is nearly perfect this season. His only misfire came Nov. 20 in Boston, when the first 11 shooters failed to score before Michal Handzus won it for the Kings, 4-3.

Since then, Stoll has converted seven straight.

He currently has the all-time best percentage (88.9) of any player with four or more attempts in a season. Petteri Nummelin of Minnesota made six out of seven (85.7) in 2006-07, and Wojtek Wolski of Colorado shot 10-for-12 (83.3) in 2008-09. A year ago, Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh made eight of 10 attempts.

Interestingly, Dan Boyle of the Sharks, who used a slow-motion move to beat Quick for the only shootout goal by San Jose, improved to three-for-three on the season. No player has ever finished four-for-four or better.

On the other end of the spectrum, Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay, who leads the NHL with 43 goals this season, has missed all seven of his shootout attempts, the most attempts without a goal by any player in the league.

Ducks: Hiller set to return vs. Predators

March, 24, 2011
Ducks (41-27-5, 87 points) vs. Nashville Predators (39-25-10, 88) at Bridgestone Arena, 5 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Jonas is a bonus – Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller, sidelined since Feb. 13 with vertigo-like symptoms that had him feeling like he was skating in glue, is set to start tonight against the Predators. Hiller was 25-16-3 heading into his first All-Star appearance, then came down with the unexplained symptoms in his first game back. He sat out four games, returned to shut out Edmonton, then had recurring spells and went on injured reserve. He’s 3-5-0 lifetime against Nashville with a 2.39 goals-against average.

2. Heading in right direction – Both the Ducks and Nashville have won four straight heading into this game, the main reason they’re both in the top eight in the Western Conference standings. The Ducks haven’t won five straight since a six-game winning streak in November. They’ve been playing especially well on the road, winning nine of their last 11 away from Honda Center. The Predators have won two of three against Anaheim this season and will be looking to win their first season series since 2003-04.

3. Nashville nemesis – Ducks second-line center Saku Koivu has four of his 14 goals against the Predators this season. He scored twice in Anaheim’s only victory against Nashville this season, a 5-4 victory Nov. 7. Koivu hasn’t been as sharp lately. He was out from Feb. 19 to March 9 with a sore groin and has just one goal in his last 11 games. He has been setting others up, however, owning five assists in the seven games since he returned from injury.

4. Hitting his stride -- David Legwand, a former No. 2 overall draft pick of the Red Wings, has had just one season with more than 50 points in his previous 10 years in the NHL, but the Nashville center is scoring like a healthy Sidney Crosby in the last 10 games. Legwand, a 30-year-old Detroit native, has four goals and eight assists in that span. He’s currently riding his second four-game points streak in the last 10 games.

5. Tough obstacle -- Nashville goalkeeper Pekka Rinne is among the names discussed for the Vezina Trophy, which is annually awarded to the league’s top net minder. Rinne is second in the NHL in goals-against average (2.07) and save percentage (.930) and tied with Jonathan Quick of the Kings and two others for fourth with six shutouts. Rinne has been tough on the Ducks in his career too, owning a 5-2-2 lifetime record and 1.94 GAA.

Kings: Crosby is not the Penguins only concern

February, 10, 2011
What the locals are saying ...

Pittsburgh continues to wait anxiously for super Penguin Sidney Crosby to return from post-concussion symptoms. Crosby has been out since Jan. 5 but is still second in the league with 32 goals.

The Penguins are even thinner up front after the season-ending knee injury last week to Evgeni Malkin, an undisclosed injury to Chris Kunitz and a four-game suspension to Matt Cooke. Out of desperation, Pittsburgh recalled four players from the AHL and they're scheduled to be in the lineup against the Kings.

One of the recalls, Brett Sterling, 26, grew up in Pasadena and played competitive hockey in Southern California until moving to Ann Arbor, Mich., when he was 16 to train with the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Kings: Next stop up the mountain is Pittsburgh

February, 10, 2011
Kings (29-22-2, 60 points) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (34-17-4, 72) at CONSOL Energy Center, 4 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Back to the climb – Last time we checked in, Kings fans were partying in the streets because their team finally moved back into the top eight in the Western Conference standings. Well, the Kings then took four days off, just enough time for a couple teams to pass them in the standings. They’ll need to re-establish a foothold and begin another ascent in Pittsburgh, a place they haven’t visited since March 2009 and haven’t won since October 2003.

2. Battered Penguins – Pittsburgh forward Sidney Crosby provided plenty of headlines the first three months of the season, building a 13-point lead over the league’s next highest scorer while running his point streak to 25 games. Then he went down with a concussion Jan. 5 and the Penguins lost three of four. They regrouped to win eight of nine. Now it’s third-leading scorer Evgeni Malkin who suffered a season-ending knee injury Friday and, once again, the Penguins have gone off track, losing two straight. With Crosby still out, the Kings may have caught them on a downswing.

3. Where art thou Kopitar? – A collective sigh of relief filled Staples Center when Anze Kopitar scored in the first period Jan. 15 against Edmonton, ending a streak of nine consecutive games without a goal. Time to get back on that 40-goal pace? Hardly. He has gone another nine games without a goal and now has one since Dec. 26. Kopitar is officially on pace to score the fewest goals since his rookie year in a 2006-07. Not the direction he should be headed at this point of his career.

4. Hitting the wall? – Kings rookie Kyle Clifford has seen his ice time dip to under 10 minutes a game in the last three, the first time that’s happened since early December and two of those games included five-minute fighting majors. With veteran left wing Marco Sturm close to coming off injured reserve due to tendinitis in his knee, the team will need to make room on the roster. Could Clifford be the odd man out?

5. Down the hall –Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi is the go-to guy for restaurant recommendations. He spent his first five seasons in Pittsburgh, the last of which culminated with a Stanley Cup title in 2009. This will be Scuderi’s first time in the visitor role against the Penguins. Known best for his defensive abilities, Scuderi scored his second goal of the season Saturday in Calgary, doubling his best season output in Pittsburgh.