Los Angeles Kings: Jarret Stoll

Depth, versatility offer Kings team strength

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
NEW YORK -- Are the Los Angeles Kings where they are -- on the precipice of capturing their second Stanley Cup title in the past three seasons -- solely because of a single player?


They are where they are because coach Darryl Sutter can roll four different line combinations and three different defensive pairings at any point in any game.

They are where they are because up and down their lineup -- especially down the middle -- they have an abundance of depth.

“I think that’s the strength of our team,” captain Dustin Brown said after the Kings secured a 3-0 series stranglehold with a 3-0 Game 3 victory Monday over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. “That’s where we match up really well against other teams.

“All the teams we’ve played, everybody’s gonna have a really good first line and second line. But our third line and our fourth line, I think they tip the scales in our favor against most teams."

“I mean, that was the difference, I think, against Chicago [in the Western Conference finals]," Brown continued. "It was [Anze Kopitar], me and [Marian Gaborik] playing against [Jonathan Toews] and his line. It was our depth scoring that really helped us in that series and [Monday night]. That’s what being a team is all about -- having everyone contribute.”

On Monday night, everyone did: from second-line center Jeff Carter's opening the scoring with less than a second remaining in the first period to all-world goaltender Jonathan Quick's making 17 saves in the middle frame to No. 1 defenseman Drew Doughty's taking a smart penalty to prevent Rick Nash from tallying what would have been a sure wraparound goal.

Doughty’s partner Jake Muzzin and fourth-line pivot Mike Richards provided insurance markers in the second. Depth defensemen Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene were tremendous in helping stifle the Rangers while the Kings were on the penalty kill.

It was every bit of a team effort.

“Our top players have been playing great,” Doughty said. “But so far in the Stanley Cup finals, you’re not seeing Kopi get a ton of points, you’re not seeing myself get a lot of points [or] Carts.

“It’s been [Kyle Clifford], [Jarret Stoll] and [Justin Williams] and guys like that that are stepping up to the plate, and that’s how you win championships. I know we haven’t won yet, but that’s how you get to the point where we are right now. We need the whole team; that’s the bottom line.”

During the playoffs, 11 different Kings have registered 10 or more points, 11 different Kings have notched game-winning goals and four different Kings have notched winning overtime goals.

Los Angeles leads the NHL by averaging 3.5 goals per game during the postseason, while putting up solid percentages on the power play (24 percent) and penalty kill (83 percent).

Kopitar, the league’s leading playoff scorer (26 points), was asked if the Kings’ depth started at center.

“It’s everybody,” he said. “I think it starts in the back with Jonathan and our defensive pairings. They’ve been really good for us. They’ve been making plays out of the zone, which obviously makes it a little bit easier on the forwards going up the ice.

“We can’t pinpoint anybody out there.”

Rapid Reaction: Kings 5, Rangers 4 (2OT)

June, 7, 2014
Jun 7
LOS ANGELES -- Just call them the Comeback Kings.

For the second straight game, the Los Angeles Kings stunned the New York Rangers with a manic and frenzied come-from-behind victory, knocking off the Blueshirts with a 5-4 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead as both clubs head back to New York for Games 3 and 4. The Kings have not led in regulation at any point throughout the first two games of Stanley Cup finals, and yet they won both contests.

Kings captain Dustin Brown scored the winning goal, snapping a 4-4 draw in double overtime to end what was a wildly entertaining playoff match that spanned more than four hours and featured a little bit of everything.

The Rangers, who squandered a 2-0 lead in Game 1 Wednesday night, held another 2-0 lead Saturday, a 3-1 and 4-2 advantage as well, but they couldn’t shut the door on the feisty Kings.

The Kings refused to go quietly despite staring down a 4-2 deficit in the third period, but their third goal did not come without a bit of the controversy.

Dwight King tipped one in for a goal that ignited a plucky Kings squad intent on staging another comeback, but both defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist were livid after the play, arguing with the nearest official about King’s contact with Lundqvist in the crease -- contact that they clearly felt impeded Lundqvist’s ability to make a save.

You could sense the Rangers start to unravel from there, with the Kings buzzing, the crowd getting into it, and the (dreadful) ice tilting in L.A.’s favor. So it was no surprise when leading playoff goal-scorer, and ex-Ranger Marian Gaborik tied the game at 7:36 with his 13th playoff goal this spring.

Rangers forward Chris Kreider has a pair of Grade-A chances in a enthralling overtime period, but couldn't find the back of the net.

Fast and furious: Just as they did in Game 1, the Kings made a big push in the second period. Los Angeles cut the Rangers’ 2-0 lead in half when Jarret Stoll buried the puck into an open net with Lundqvist down on his rear after making an initial save. Martin St. Louis continued his terrific spring, one-timing a shot past Jonathan Quick on the power-play to reclaim a two-goal Rangers lead -- his seventh goal of these playoffs. But when the Kings threatened again, pulling within a goal for the second time on Willie Mitchell’s man-up marker at 14:39, the Rangers made sure to snuff out the surge quickly. The Blueshirts responded in just 11 seconds with a goal from Derick Brassard to take a 4-2 lead into the third period. According to Elias Sports Bureau, that 11-second span was the quickest between two goals scored in a Stanley Cup finals game in 67 years.

Déjà vu: Stop me if this sounds familiar: Kings look sloppy with the puck (granted, the ice also appeared horrendous) and an opportunistic Rangers squad build a 2-0 first-period lead. The Rangers got on the board with defenseman Ryan McDonagh’s hard slapper from the left point at 10:48 of the first, a goal that was created by hard forechecking pressure that forced Game 1 hero Justin Williams to turn the puck over deep in his own zone. A flubbed pass from defenseman Matt Greene later in the period resulted in a sequence of scoring chances for New York that was capped by Mats Zuccarello’s rebound goal at the right post with 7:17 remaining in the period. The Rangers took a two-goal lead in Game 1, but the Kings came charging back for a 3-2 overtime win.

Surprising scratch: Though Kings coach Darryl Sutter said veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr would “probably play” and the 34-year-old himself admitted he was ready to return to the lineup after missing more than a month with a knee injury, Regehr was scratched for the second straight game this series. Though he took part in the pregame warmups, Greene remained in the starting lineup instead. Meanwhile, John Moore returned to bolster the Rangers’ back end after serving a two-game suspension for his hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise in the Eastern Conference finals.

W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Kings (Game 3)

May, 24, 2014
May 24
LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings face off in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at the Staples Center on Saturday. The series is tied 1-1. Here's what to watch for:

* The Kings stole home-ice advantage away from the Blackhawks by rallying from a 2-0 deficit and scoring six unanswered goals in Game 2 in Chicago on Wednesday. The Kings are 3-3 in their own building in the playoffs this season.

* Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw is expected to play after missing the last seven games with a lower-body injury. He’ll likely replace Peter Regin as the third-line center.

* Kings forward Jeff Carter is coming off a hat trick and four points in Game 2. He has two career playoff hat tricks.

* The Blackhawks allowed a total of two power-play goals in each of their first two series. The Kings scored two power-play goals in Game 2. The Kings made the Blackhawks pay for consecutive penalties in the first six minutes of the third period Wednesday.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Sharks 4, Kings 3 (OT)

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22

LOS ANGELES -- San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan sounded more like a history teacher going into Tuesday's Western Conference quarterfinals Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings.

He was done talking about his team thoroughly dismantling the Kings in the first two games in Los Angeles, outscoring them 13-5 and punching holes in what had been the league's most stingy defense this season.

He told the Sharks about the Kings' coming back from an 0-2 series hole in the first round last season against the St. Louis Blues and winning in six games. He told them about the semifinals series they had with the Kings in which the Kings won the first two games, the Sharks tied up and the series went seven games.

McLellan didn't want his team to let the Kings back into this series, and that meant it would have to do something it hadn't been done in a while -- win in Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, the Sharks took a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Kings with a 4-3 overtime win. It was the first win by a visiting team in 10 playoff games between the Kings and the Sharks over the past two seasons.

How it happened: Game 3 began ominously for the Kings with the Sharks picking up right where they left off in San Jose. After the Kings squandered another power-play opportunity despite getting three shots on goal, the Sharks got their chance and didn't waste any time capitalizing on the opportunity, as Brent Burns fanned on the slap shot and pushed the fluttering puck past Jonathan Quick to give the Sharks a quick 1-0 lead just 3:16 into the first period.

The Kings finally capitalized on a power play the third time around after getting only four shots on goal during their first two combined. This time Jarret Stoll tied it with a one-timer on a cross ice pass from Tyler Toffoli. It was Stoll's first playoff goal since the Kings' Stanley Cup title run in 2012 after failing to score a goal last postseason.

Marian Gaborik then gave the Kings a 2-1 lead on a nifty goal on an odd-man rush. Less than two minutes later, the Sharks tied it again when Matt Nieto scored on a deflected point shot with Quick lying on the ice after Robyn Regehr knocked him down.

Los Angeles took the lead 51 seconds into the third period when Jeff Carter scored his first playoff goal since Game 2 of last season's Western Conference finals. It was the Kings' second power-play goal of the game. The Sharks then tied it up and sent it to overtime when Tomas Hertl scored on his fourth effort after a power play had expired.

San Jose finally took a commanding 3-0 series lead when Patrick Marleau put home a shot to Quick's right that deflected off Slava Voynov's stick to give the Sharks the 4-3 overtime win.

What it means: The Sharks are one win away from eliminating the Kings and advancing to the Western Conference semifinals, exacting some revenge after being eliminated by L.A. in seven games in the quarterfinals last season. If the Sharks win Thursday, it will be the first time the Kings have been swept in the playoffs since 2000.

Player of the game: Marleau scored the winning goal 6:20 into overtime when his backhanded shot fluttered past Quick, who had made 36 saves. Marleau also assisted on the tying goal in the second period and had four shots and three hits. The Sharks have now won five straight playoff overtime games and 10 of their past 11 with Marleau scoring four game winners during that time.

Stat of the game: The Sharks outshot the Kings 40-31, including 23-8 in the third period.

What's next: The Sharks can eliminate the Kings in Game 4 in Los Angeles. The last time the Kings were down 0-3 in a series was against the Detroit Red Wings in 2000, which was also the last time they were swept in the postseason.