Los Angeles Hockey: Trevor Lewis

Fast start propels Kings over Avs

February, 23, 2013
2/23/13
4:31
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter scored first-period goals, Trevor Lewis added his first career short-handed goal, and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Saturday at Staples Center for their third straight victory.

For the full story, click this link.

Kings beat Flames, complete Alberta sweep

February, 20, 2013
2/20/13
10:38
PM PT


CALGARY, Alberta -- Trevor Lewis scored the go-ahead goal and the Los Angeles Kings swept back-to-back games in Alberta with a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. The victory came one night after the Kings defeated the other team from the Canadian province, the Edmonton Oilers.

For the full story, click this link.

Kings take Cup to Tao in Vegas

June, 15, 2012
6/15/12
7:02
PM PT
KingsBrenton Ho/Powers ImagerySeveral of the Kings were in Las Vegas on Thursday night with the Stanley Cup.

The summer of Stanley has already begun as the Kings took their prized possession on the road -- outside the state at least -- for the first time since winning the NHL championship on Monday night.

Las Vegas was the destination as many Kings spent Thursday evening at Tao Nightclub, sharing the glory of the victory -- and the Stanley Cup -- with club-goers and fans.

Among the players in attendance were Trevor Lewis, Jeff Carter, Jarret Stoll, Brad Richardson, Drew Doughty, Mike Richards, Alec Martinez, Kyle Clifford, Willie Mitchell and Jordan Nolan.

The players took turns drinking champagne out of the Cup as those in crowd snapped photos.

Here are a few more photos from the evening's celebration:

Kings Stanley Cup in Las VegasBrenton Ho/Powers ImageryTao Nightclub in Las Vegas went all out in welcoming the Kings with the Stanley Cup.

KingsBrenton Ho/Powers ImageryThe Stanley Cup was the center of attention once again at Tao Nightclub in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Kings: 10 most defining moments of 2011-12 season

June, 12, 2012
6/12/12
10:46
PM PT
Los Angeles KingsJeff Gross/Getty ImagesThe Stanley Cup was the ultimate prize, but there were many defining moments in the Kings' season.

With the Stanley Cup securely in the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, now’s a good time to look back at the defining moments of last season, an eight-month journey that figures to be remembered for decades to come. In chronological order:

1. Home opener -- After starting the regular season with two games in Europe and two more on the East Coast, the Kings finally had a chance to play in front of their home crowd. Featuring a lineup that many believed could contend for a Pacific Division title, L.A. played just as well as advertised, cruising to a 5-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues. Kings left wing Simon Gagne, one of five players who joined L.A. in the offseason, had two goals and an assist in the victory.

2. Quick’s shutout streak -- The home opener against the Blues marked the beginning of a franchise-record three consecutive shutouts by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. After the St. Louis game, he followed up by blanking the Phoenix Coyotes (2-0) and Dallas Stars (1-0). In one of the more questionable moves of coach Terry Murray’s tenure, he decided to rest Quick for a game following the Dallas win and that seemed to take him out of his groove. He went winless in six of his next seven starts, giving up 21 goals in that span.

3. Murray fired/Sutter hired -- The above-mentioned skid was the first indication the Kings were more than capable of underachieving. After another four-game losing spell in early December, general manager Dean Lombardi made the difficult decision to fire Murray, a man who implemented his defense-first identity but was unable to get the players to feel accountable for their poor play. Lombardi placed a call to Darryl Sutter at his barn in Alberta and asked if he was interested in the reclamation project. The rest, as they say, is history.

4. King/Nolan recall -- Sutter didn’t press all the right buttons immediately. In fact, the Kings weren’t able to win more than two straight games his first two months behind the bench. In an effort to bring more youth and size to the wings, the Kings brought up rookies Dwight King and Jordan Nolan from their AHL team in Manchester in early February, and they fit into the lineup like a new pair of boxing gloves. In their second game with the Kings, they each scored in a 4-2 victory against the Stars. King moved from the second to the third line late in the opening-round series against the Vancouver Canucks and went on to contribute five goals and three assists in the final 13 playoff games.

5. Carter trade -- After winning just three of the first 11 games in February, eliminating their wiggle room inside the top eight in the Western Conference, management went for broke Feb. 23 and traded defenseman Jack Johnson to the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets for high-scoring right wing Jeff Carter. The move rounded out the top six forwards for the Kings and didn’t force them to subtract from their back end, as rookie Slava Voynov was ready to assume a full-time role in the NHL. Carter started slow with L.A. but caught fire in the second half of their playoff run, scoring seven goals in the final 10 games.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Game 6: Kings 6, Devils 1

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
7:54
PM PT

Stanley Cup finals

Game 6

Kings 6, New Jersey Devils 1

(Kings win the series, 4-2)

The good: Forty-five years of existence, six years of rebuilding and four minutes of pure elation merged together Monday night at Staples Center, combining to make hockey all the rage in L.A. once again.

After two missed opportunities, the Kings finally silenced the Devils for a fourth time in this series, clinching their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Better yet, they accomplished the ultimate goal in front of their loyal supporters. The turning point began just past the halfway point of the first period, when Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi was hit from behind by Steve Bernier as he played the puck near the end boards in his zone. Scuderi crumbled to the ice after he slammed face first into the boards and blood spilled from his mouth and nose. Bernier was given a five-minute major boarding penalty and a game misconduct. Since major penalties don’t end when a power-play goal is scored, the Kings took full advantage, scoring three consecutive goals with the man advantage.

Dustin Brown, mired in a slump during the finals, scored the first 53 seconds into the power play, deflecting a shot by defenseman Drew Doughty. Then it was Jeff Carter’s turn to get a piece of Brown’s shot from the slot and he tipped it past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur midway through the penalty. L.A. wasn’t satisfied, as rookie left wing Dwight King carried the puck down the left side and shoveled a short pass through the crease to Trevor Lewis, who flipped it past Brodeur for a 3-0 advantage with nine seconds still left on the major. This wasn’t a power play, this was a power trip. Even better, Scuderi returned at the start of the second period with a nasty gash on the bridge of his nose and his upper lip. Carter welcomed him back by taking a pass in the slot from Anze Kopitar and rifling it past Brodeur 1:30 into the second period for L.A.’s fourth goal on their 14th shot on net.

The bad: From the first game of these playoffs, the Kings had trouble closing out the second period. It happened again Monday night, as Adam Henrique beat three Kings to a loose rebound off a faceoff win and shoved it past the goal line with 1:15 left in the second period, cutting the deficit to 4-1. Dustin Penner then laid a check on New Jersey defenseman Bryce Salvador that looked like nothing more than a check along the boards, sending him to the penalty box with 17 seconds remaining in the period. The Kings killed that penalty, however, giving their fans a chance to breathe a sigh of relief.

The in-between: It was a rough night for a lot of folks. Not only did Scuderi leave a pool of blood on the ice, but Devils forward Stephen Gionta was struck in the face by a teammate’s slap shot late in the second period and linesman Pierre Racicot had to leave the game after he was knocked down on a rush by Brown during the second period, as well, slamming his head sharply on the ice.

Kings: Pressure builds as Stanley Cup finals begin

May, 30, 2012
5/30/12
12:19
PM PT

Stanley Cup Finals

Game 1

Kings vs. New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center, 5 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Not just another playoff game – If the moment hasn’t hit the Kings yet, it very well could some time today. L.A. breezed through the first three rounds of the playoffs like a sports car on the autobahn, barely noticing the competition as it sped by. With the realization that they’re now at the doorstep of the Holy Grail for only the second time in franchise history, will the Kings suddenly stiffen up and forget what got them here? The first period could be a clear indication. New Jersey has come out strong in these playoffs, scoring 23 of their 47 regulation goals in the first 20 minutes.

2. Big names, big games – Both sides have their share of stars on the roster, but who will step up on the biggest stage in hockey? It’s safe to say, based on the attention he received during Tuesday’s media session, that Kings second-line center Mike Richards is the most popular player on a North American scale. He’s Canadian, spent the first six years of his career playing on the East Coast for the Philadelphia Flyers, and now fits right into the Southern California fabric. Ilya Kovalchuk of the Devils may have something to say about stealing the limelight, however. He might be the most skilled player on the ice for both teams, though he’s not the media darling that Richards has become.

3. Young gun vs. old guard – The goalie matchup figures to take center stage right from the opening drop. Kings netminder Jonathan Quick has been the better player all season, but Martin Brodeur of the Devils has been here before… a few times. Both have stepped up their games in the postseason, but Quick is still a half goal better in the all-important goals-against column. At 40 years of age, will Brodeur’s reflexes stand up against the pressure of the Kings? He has played only one period against L.A. this season and that was back in October. Quick, on the other hand, is overdue for an off night. He hasn’t allowed more than three goals in a playoff game this spring and has given up two consecutive goals only twice in 14 playoff games. Those just happen to be the only two games the Kings lost.

4. On the road again – The Kings are on virgin ground when it comes to road success in the NHL playoffs. They’re the first team to win eight straight playoff games on the road to start the postseason and the first to win 10 straight overall. The Kings have won the first two games away from Staples Center in each of the first three rounds, and they’re starting out on the road once again. Like any record-breaking streak, it has to end some time. The Kings just hope it’s not tonight.

5. Lagging behind – After benefiting greatly from secondary scoring early in the postseason, the third and fourth lines for the Kings are a bit overdue. Jarret Stoll hasn’t scored since his overtime series-clinching goal in Game 5 against the Vancouver Canucks, and Trevor Lewis and Brad Richardson haven’t scored since the opening-round series either. Jordan Nolan also has just one goal in the postseason, and fourth-line center Colin Fraser is still looking for his first. Dwight King has been phenomenal in the last two rounds, scoring five goals, but the Kings can’t expect a rookie to carry all the weight of the bottom six.

Kings try to chill after physical Game 2 win

May, 16, 2012
5/16/12
3:17
PM PT
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 roll over Phoenix in West final opener

May, 13, 2012
5/13/12
8:43
PM PT
Western Conference finals

Game 1

Los Angeles Kings 4, Phoenix Coyotes 2

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Kings jumped on the Coyotes from the first drop of the puck Sunday night, gave away a pair of one-goal leads at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., but then buckled down in the third period and scored two unanswered goals to win their sixth consecutive road game of these playoffs.

THE STAT: The Kings are just the fifth team in NHL playoff history to win their first six road games, one short of the NHL record for most consecutive road playoff wins in a single year. The Kings have won eight consecutive playoff games away from Staples Center overall, one shy of another NHL record set by the New York Islanders in 1982-83. The Kings are 9-1 in this postseason, the best 10-game stretch of the season.

TURNING POINT: After letting leads of 1-0 and 2-1 get away, Dustin Brown scored his seventh goal of the playoffs and third game winner. Kings rookie defenseman Slava Voynov got the play started, sliding a perfect outlet pass to Brown, who was racing past the red line. Brown was able to maintain his speed as he carried the puck into the offensive zone, keeping a stride ahead of the nearest Phoenix defender. Brown placed his shot perfectly under the right arm of goalkeeper Mike Smith for a 3-2 lead 2:11 into the final period.

HOT: The Kings were on fire from the start, outshooting the Coyotes, 17-4, in the opening 20 minutes. They finished with a 48-27 edge in shots on net, taking 90 shots in all. Phoenix managed to block 25, so the Coyotes will certainly have a few black-and-blue marks come Monday. Defensively, the Kings wiped out all five power plays by the Coyotes, giving them 24 straight kills in these playoffs.

NOT: Kings second-line right wing Jeff Carter continues to be one of the few under-performing members of the team. He managed just one shot on goal and was a minus-1 for the game. He had a golden opportunity to give the Kings a 2-0 lead in the first period, but he elected to corral the puck with an empty net in front of him, rather than take a swipe. By the time he gathered to shoot, Smith had closed the gap and got a glove on the puck. Carter, acquired at the trade deadline to give the Kings some extra offensive firepower down the stretch and into the postseason, has one goal in 10 playoff games. The foot injury that sidelined him the final five games of the regular season could still be a hindrance.

GOOD MOVE: With the score tied 1-1 about eight minutes into the second period, Voynov slid the puck out of the defensive zone to Trevor Lewis, who was waiting on the wall near the red line. Lewis redirected the puck into the middle of the ice, where Kings rookie forward Dwight King was all alone to start a 2-on-1 rush with Mike Richards. King passed the puck to Richards on his right and raced toward the opposite post. Richards showed his awareness and shot the puck at Smith’s right pad, leaving a plumb rebound for King to flip high into the open side of the net.

BAD MOVE: It was 10 years ago that Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings scored from center ice in Game 3 of the Western Conference first-round series against Vancouver, beating goalie Dan Cloutier to break a 1-1 tie in the eventual 3-1 victory. The eighth-seeded Canucks were up in the series, 2-0, heading into that game and went on to lose four straight games. Many saw the Lidstrom goal as the turning point of the series. In a near repeat, Derek Morris of the Coyotes scored from center ice against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, tying the score 1-1 at a time when L.A. was completely dominating the opening period. Fortunately for the Kings, that play did not come back to haunt them.

NOTABLE: King added an empty-netter with 47.7 seconds left in the game, becoming the first Kings rookie to score two goals in a playoff game in 30 years. The Coyotes have been outshot in 10 of their 12 postseason games.

UP NEXT: Game 2, Tuesday in Phoenix, 6 p.m. PT.

Kings: Breaking down the West final vs. Coyotes

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
12:58
PM PT


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: Trevor Lewis has become a big hit in L.A.

May, 8, 2012
5/08/12
4:05
PM PT
LewisKirby Lee/US PresswireTrevor Lewis has finally found his niche with the Kings after being drafted in the first round in 2006.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Nothing has ever come easy for Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Lewis.

Maybe that’s why he's so hard on the competition.

Lewis made an impression on the St. Louis Blues in L.A.’s recently completed second-round sweep, maybe a few of them.

He led the Kings in hits the final two games, softening up the Blues just enough to give the goal scorers easier access to the net. Final score for the four-game series: Kings 15, Blues 6. Final tally in the hits department: Kings 144, Blues 140.

Lewis almost single-handedly helped the Kings edge St. Louis in hits, accounting for 14 in the final two games after getting just five in the first two.

“The first two games of the series, our line wasn’t at its best and probably because we weren’t getting in on the forecheck,” Lewis said after practice Tuesday. “I started to make a point of getting in on the forecheck, and I think we played better the last two games.”

It might have taken a while, but Lewis has finally found his niche with the Kings. It couldn’t have happened at a better time, as L.A. has reached the Western Conference finals for just the second time in the franchise’s 45-year history. The Kings will face the Phoenix Coyotes in the next round.

The deeper a team wades into the postseason, the more physical games become. Lewis has the attributes to excel at that style. His teammates recognize what he brings to the table. At the end of the regular season, they voted him the “Unsung Hero” among the forwards.

“He’s a guy that doesn’t get a lot of credit,” fourth-line center Colin Fraser said. “You don’t see his name in the paper, no one really talks a lot about him, but he does the little things out there. He plays hard every night, has lots of speed, plays on the penalty kill. He’s one of those guys that flies under the radar as a really, really good player.”

Speed has always been Lewis’ best attribute. If he had better hands, he might be a 30-goal scorer. But speed can work wonders on the forecheck, as it allows Lewis to get into the offensive zone quickly and break up the opposition’s clearing attempts with a good thud against the glass.

He’ll also stand in the way of a 100 mph slap shot, dive to clear a puck on the penalty kill and backcheck like a swarm of bees. It was his backcheck on a Vancouver Canucks player in Game 5 of the first-round series that led to a neutral-zone turnover and an overtime goal by linemate Jarret Stoll, clinching the series.

(Read full post)

Kings: Sweep smell of victory fills the air

May, 5, 2012
5/05/12
11:53
PM PT
Drew DoughtyHarry How/Getty ImagesDrew Doughty has been receiving high praise from the opposing coach as well as the public.
Western Conference semifinals

Game 4, Kings vs. St. Louis Blues at Staples Center, noon (Kings lead series, 3-0)

Five storylines to track:

1. Broom town -- Sure, the Kings are up 3-0 for the second straight series, skating on home ice with another chance to sweep one of the top teams from the regular season. But a different aura surrounds this Game 4. It’s a sense of confidence, of domination and, yeah, the Blues are proving to be a lot more inferior than the Canucks. The St. Louis defense has more holes than an old pair of jeans, and goalie Brian Elliott is nowhere near the final obstacle that Cory Schneider proved to be in the Vancouver series. Throw in an offense that has been completely flummoxed by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and the recipe is ripe for a fourth straight victory.

2. Popular demand -- Kings defenseman Drew Doughty went to the Angels game Friday night, not to root for the home team but to support his beloved Toronto Blue Jays. Apparently, he and teammate Trevor Lewis were big hits with the crowd, going so far as to say it was the most attention they’ve received in public. The Kings have become part of the raging sports landscape in Southern California, right along with the Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers and, to a lesser degree, the Angels. The volume should only increase if the Kings can advance to the Western Conference finals for just the second time in franchise history. That could go a long way toward keeping the Kings in the mainstream sports conversation beyond this spring.

3. Earning his keep -- St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock had the highest praise for Doughty following practice Saturday. He said the 22-year-old blueliner has been the best player in the series, a compliment that goes a long way considering how well Quick has played. Doughty had a backbreaking goal in the third period of Game 3 after earning a pair of assists earlier in the contest. The regular season didn’t unfold for Doughty quite the way many expected. He remained unsigned during training camp while negotiating the highest-paid contract on the team, and came up far short of the offensive numbers he produced two years ago, a watermark his representatives used in negotiations. It’s amazing how easily those shortfalls can be forgotten in the haze a standout playoff performance.

4. Power please -- The Kings ended an 0-for-30 skid on the power play in Game 3, getting a second-period goal from Mike Richards. They’re 4-for-42 overall in these playoffs, a percentage that normally wouldn’t hold up this long into the postseason. But the Kings have made up for some of their special teams futility by going 32-for-35 on the penalty kill and scoring four short-handed goals. A power-play goal or two in Game 4 could go a long way toward getting the Kings back on track, and maybe even help clinch this series.

5. Changing Blues -- The Blues can’t replace Elliott because their backup, Jaroslav Halak, is sidelined because of a sprained ankle, so they’re benching defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and replacing him with Ian Cole, and scratching winger B.J. Crombeen in place of Ryan Reaves, who’s best known in L.A. for dropping Kings forward Kyle Clifford in a one-punch fight last season. Let’s face it, the Blues don’t have that golden ticket waiting to be found. Vancouver swapped goalies after the first two losses against the Kings, and that did little to stem the tide.

Kings: When push comes to shove, L.A. knows how to respond

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
11:27
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- The goal was a microcosm of how the postseason has unfolded for the Kings.

The St. Louis Blues had scored 4½ minutes into the third period Thursday night to cut the deficit to one in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal.

Pinned in his own end, Jeff Carter made a deft chip pass as the puck skimmed along the wall and toward the blue line. That allowed teammate Mike Richards to maintain his speed with nothing but open ice in his path.

He raced into the offensive zone, paused with the puck for what seemed like a coffee break, then slid a perfect centering pass to defenseman Drew Doughty, who was barreling into the offensive zone. Doughty did the rest, sending the puck rocketing into the pads of St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott, which then trickled out the back side and across the goal line.

Just like that, the Blues were back on their heels.

The Kings didn’t allow St. Louis any more prime scoring opportunities after that, holding on for a 4-2 victory at Staples Center that gave them a commanding 3-0 series lead with Game 4 back on home ice Sunday at noon.

“It was a big goal,” said Doughty, who also had two assists. “They had just scored to make it 3-2 and Richards made an unbelievable play. Not too many forwards can see that. He was almost two zones ahead of me when I first starting skating, and for him to know I was going to be joining and for him to stop up and make that feed, that was a great job by him.”

Richards, as usual, deflected praise to Carter for getting the play started.

“He did a good job chipping the puck on the wall,” Richards said. “The hardest plays as a winger are when the puck is rimming and you have that defense pounding down on you, and he did a good job chipping it by him. I just gave it to Dewey and he did the rest.”

(Read full post)

Kings: How they got from there to here

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
11:28
PM PT
Dustin PennerRich Lam/Getty ImagesDustin Penner's resurgence has been one of many reasons the Kings find themselves where they are.

EL SEGUNDO -- Forget trying to put a finger on what turned this season around. You won't have enough hands.

One of the favorites to finish high in the Western Conference standings coming into the season, with a roster full of skill, youth and experience, the Los Angeles Kings were underachievers almost from the start.

Well, except for goalie Jonathan Quick.

They fired coach Terry Murray in mid-December, during a stretch in which they didn’t score more than two goals in any of 14 straight games, and brought in a more leathery figure in Darryl Sutter.

He got the Kings to stand up straight all right, but still couldn’t coax the players to put the puck in the net. Over the next two months, the offense continued to languish at the bottom of the league in scoring, averaging little more than two goals a game.

Just as the trade deadline came and went in late February, the Kings suddenly turned a corner, finishing 13-5-3 and averaging just over three goals a game to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. Not what many envisioned coming into the season, but part of the postseason, nonetheless.

They hit the reset button and came out motivated, healthy and ready for the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks, won the first two games in Vancouver and upset the President Trophy winners in five games.

(Read full post)

Kings: Playoffs veer to St. Louis for Game 1

April, 28, 2012
4/28/12
12:25
AM PT

Western Conference Semifinals

Game 1

Kings vs. St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center, 4:30 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Back at it – After seven days off for the Blues and six for the Kings, the playoffs finally resume for two teams that haven’t been past the first round in the last 10 years. The long break shouldn’t benefit one side over another, but it will be interesting to see if it disrupts any of the rhythm both developed while winning their openers in five games. The first period should be a good indicator of any mothballs that have built up. A slow start by either team could be enough to put them behind for good in what should be a low-scoring game and series.

2. Road Warriors – Dating back to the 2010 playoffs, the Kings don’t have home-ice advantage for the fourth straight series. That’s not such a bad thing, however, considering how the Kings have played on the road. In the last three seasons, they are 7-2 in road playoff games, compared to 2-6 at Staples Center. Kings coach Darryl Sutter made it clear after practice earlier this week that he would still rather be sleeping in his own bed this weekend, and he knows the longer the series drags on, the more of an advantage the home team has. The Kings have managed to steal away home ice in the opening two games the previous two seasons. If they can do it again Saturday, the Kings will rest better no matter where they're sleeping.

3. Penner’s promotion – Kings left wing Dustin Penner has joined Mike Richards and Jeff Carter on the second line, giving L.A. a trio with considerable experience in the postseason. Penner can help erase all the bad thoughts from the regular season with some offensive contributions. He really has no reason not to succeed. If he moves his feet and keeps up with Richards and Carter, he should get a handful of scoring chances. What he does with them could go a long way toward determining how successful the Kings are in this series.

4. Third is a charm – While the top two lines for the Kings figure to get all the attention from the Blues, the third line might be in the best position to steal a victory or two. Jarret Stoll is coming off his overtime game winner in Game 5, his second goal in the Vancouver series. Trevor Lewis also scored against the Canucks and his takeaway set up Stoll’s golden goal. Dwight King should also feel more comfortable on the third line after trying to keep up with Richards and Carter for most of the series.

5. Bring on the back up – For the second straight series, the Kings will probably see a lot more of their opponent’s back-up goalie than the No. 1 netminder. Jaroslav Halak is expected to miss the first two games with a sprained ankle, but Brian Elliott might be the better of the two, just as Cory Schneider of Vancouver looked to have a leg up on Roberto Luongo in the first-round series. Elliott owned a paltry 1.56 goals-against average in a part-time role this season, and won all three starts against the Sharks in the first round.

Kings: Darryl Sutter rolls with lines from Game 5 victory

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
5:36
PM PT


EL SEGUNDO -- Call it the been-there-done-that line.

In his first practice since the Kings clinched the opening-round playoff series Sunday in Vancouver, coach Darryl Sutter stuck with the forward lines that got him there.

That meant rookie Dwight King was still playing left wing on the third line with center Jarret Stoll, who scored the overtime winner in Game 5 against the Canucks, and right wing Trevor Lewis, who forced the turnover that set the series-clinching play in motion.

It also meant Dustin Penner was still playing left wing on the second line with center Mike Richards and his other wingmate, Jeff Carter.

The trio combined for just two goals in the series against the Canucks, compared to four for the unlikely combination of Stoll, Lewis and Brad Richardson, but their postseason experience and scoring potential is unmatched among the other Western Conference playoff teams.

Penner, Richards and Carter have appeared in a combined 165 playoff games, winning 91. They have one Stanley Cup title between them, two other finals appearance and 38 playoff goals.

“What Richey brings and what Carts brings and what I bring, it’s all something that has the blueprints for success,” Penner said after practice Tuesday at Toyota Sports Center. “It’s just a matter of putting the pen to paper.”

The other angle to the move is Sutter's decision to ride the hot hand of Stoll, Lewis and King, who was taken off the second line in Game 5 to help drum up some offense. The Kings had scored only two goals between the start of Game 3 and the beginning of the third period in Game 5.

Richardson tied the score, 1-1, early in third third period of Game 5 to get the game into overtime. That's when Lewis poked the puck off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis about four minutes in, allowing Stoll and King to break losse on a 2-on-1. Stoll hit the back of the net with a wrist shot and the Kings won their first playoff series in 11 years, advancing to play the St. Louis Blues in the second round.

“We’re lucky that we have guys that can play everywhere,” Sutter said. “We’ll keep trying to find stuff that works, like we did in Vancouver.”

On another note, fourth-line winger Kyle Clifford skated after practice, but doesn't appear close to returning. He banged his head on the glass after a hard hit by Byron Bitz in Game 1 in Vancouver and hasn’t played since. Sutter didn’t have an update on his condition. Andrei Loktionov replaced Clifford in the lineup for Games 2 and 3, and Richardson then replaced Loktionov after missing the first three games following an emergency appendectomy.

SPONSORED HEADLINES