Los Angeles Hockey: Zdeno Chara

Kings: Hoping to hang a Lucky 7 on Bruins

March, 24, 2012

Kings (37-25-12, 86 points) vs. Boston Bruins (42-28-3, 87 points) at Staples Center, 6 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Still No. 1 – For the second consecutive morning, the Kings woke up, rubbed their eyes and still saw their name still atop the Pacific Division standings. A big carrot considering division winners are guaranteed one of the top three seeds in the Western Conference playoffs. While that’s a moral victory to climb back atop that mountain after all the organization has experienced this season, it really hasn't earned them anything at this point. There's still eight games to go in the regular season, and the Kings are just one point inside the playoff bubble. They could just as easily fall out of the top eight by failing to earn any points against the Bruins, and on the same night Colorado beats Vancouver and either Dallas or Phoenix wins. That’s how tight this race has remained heading into the final two weeks.

2. Masked man – If not for the effort of goalie Jonathan Quick in their 1-0 shootout victory Thursday night against the visiting St. Louis Blues, the Kings wouldn’t be sitting in this position. He stopped 37 shots in regulation and overtime, and kept three more out of the net in the shootout for his eighth shutout of the season, matching the franchise record. The former UMass goalie has a strong history against the Bruins too, owning a 5-1-0 lifetime record with a shutout last season at Staples Center. It seems the closer the score, the better Quick plays. This figures to be one of those games.

(Read full post)

Kings: New coach, same challenges vs. Bruins

December, 13, 2011

Kings (13-12-4, 30 points) vs. Boston Bruins (18-9-1, 37 points) at TD Garden, 4 p.m. (PT)

Five storylines to track:

1. Changing of the guard – A new era begins tonight in Boston. A tad more than 24 hours after Kings coach Terry Murray was fired in the middle of his fourth season in LA, the team will face off against the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins. Dean Lombardi, general manager of the Kings, held the players accountable for Murray’s departure, reminding them that they’re the ones who weren’t performing to their capabilities. Murray just had to take the fall because, well, he couldn’t fire half the team. Let’s see if the players respond with a better effort for interim coach John Stevens, who must feel like a lame duck politician right about now, just keeping the seat warm for the new guy.

2. Change of heart – Stevens and anyone else who ends up coaching this team can’t score goals, they just write plays on a grease board and hope the players execute the plan. If he's still the coach when the puck drops, don’t expect Stevens to come up with any major overhauls to the system either. He has worked closely with Murray over the years and they share many of the same philosophies. If the Kings are going to score more than two goals for the first time in nine games, end a four-game losing streak and eventually emerge from the cellar as the league’s lowest-scoring team, it will come from passion and effort, not X’s and O’s.

3. No easy ones – While the Kings haven’t been doing much scoring or winning lately, they haven’t exactly been playing the cupcakes of the NHL. The Bruins will be the third straight opponent that leads their division and sixth in the last nine games. Coming into the week, the Kings had played only two teams with losing records, three games against the Ducks and one against Colorado. The road might get a little easier for the Kings beginning later this week. Following the game against the Bruins, four of their next 12 will be against sub-.500 teams.

(Read full post)

Ducks: Sharks rally to win, Visnovsky hurt

April, 2, 2011
San Jose Sharks 4, Ducks 2

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Ducks let a two-goal lead slip away Saturday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose, but can still clinch a playoff berth Sunday evening with a regulation win against the visiting Dallas Stars at Honda Center.

THE STAT: Lubomir Visnovsky scored his 17thgoal of the season in the first period to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead and set a franchise record for goals by a Ducks defenseman, but he later left with just over eight minutes left after absorbing a hard check by Douglas Murray of the Sharks. Visnovsky has emerged this season as a candidate for the Norris Trophy, which goes to the league's top defenseman.

TURNING POINT: Less than two minutes after Visnovsky headed to the locker room because of an unknown injury, the Sharks went on the power play when Jason Blake was whistled for holding Ryane Clowe. A minute later, Devin Setoguchi scored on a slap shot from 40 feet to give San Jose a 3-2 lead.

HOT: Corey Perry assisted on both goals by the Ducks, giving him 16 points in his eight-game point streak. He made a highlight-reel pass to Bobby Ryan for the first goal of the game, then helped set up Visnovsky for his power-play goal.

NOT: Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman came in leading the NHL with a plus-minus rating of plus-33, but he was minus-two against the Sharks, which will drop him behind Zdeno Chara of the Bruins (plus-32).

GOOD MOVE: Ryan was questionable before the game after taking a knee-to-knee hit from Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano in the Ducks’ victory Wednesday night, but he showed up to work Saturday night and scored his 34th goal of the season.

BAD MOVE: San Jose coach Todd McLellen matched Dan Boyle and Murray against the Teemu Selanne line early on and they were no match for their speed and creativity. Boyle and Murray did combine for three assists later in the game.

NOTABLE: The Ducks can not only clinch a playoff berth for themselves Sunday against the Stars, but for the Los Angeles Kings as well.

UP NEXT: Sunday vs. Dallas Stars at Honda Center, 5 p.m.