Friday, December 17, 2010

VERTIGO!...& Marco Sturm...::Yawn::...

Sturm Sometimes Wears Eye Black To Intimidate His Opponents
First off, vertigo is no joke.  I woke up with ringing in the ear and the room spinning.  It's been two weeks now; after a trip to the ER and a trip to the doctor's office...the spinning has gone away and only the ringing remains.  My symptoms were so severe that I was forced to miss Jarome Iginla's first-visit to Staples Center this season.  I'll have to wait until March to debut my converted Patrick O'Sullivan #12 game worn jersey that now reads IGINLA.  Moving on...

So Sturm is a King after all.  Yippee.  And the Kings ended up saving themselves a few bucks in the process.  The Kings got a 32-year old seven-time 20-goal scorer for free.  Well, not free.  They'll be paying him a little under $2.5 million for the remainder of the season which should leave them plenty of cap space to acquire Brad Richards when Dean Lombardi grows a pair (w0ah, thaaat was harsh; must still have a bit of vertigo...).
If you caught his interview with Jim Fox during the second-intermission of the Kings/Blues game; Sturm seems like a likable guy that smiles alot and you can understand why many of his Bruins' teammates were so bummed to see him leave.  Marc Savard on 'Sturmie':
“...I’ll remember most I think, the play when I set him up when he first returned from his first knee surgery in ’09 and him just thanking me. He was a class act. He’s going to get a great chance at a Cup there and they’re getting a great person and a great player in LA. I wish him nothing but the best unless he’s playing us.”
Nice to know that Marc Savad thinks of us as Cup contenders, eh?  Sturm gave a scouting report of himself: speed, speed...speed and I can score goals.  He's had major surgery on both knees so let's hope that his speed comes back sooner than later.  The Kings have set a tentative return date of December 23rd.  We'll see...

I'm still bitter about losing out on Tomas Fleischmann.  Flash has found instant chemistry with Matt Duchene in Colorado and quickly put up 10 points in seven games for the Avs.  He'll be a UFA at the end of the season if the Avs don't lock him up before then.  Would be a nice secondary option to Brad Richards and Paul Kariya...of course.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Marco Sturm To The Kings...Just Kidding!

Dean Lombardi:"The San Jose Sharks are proud to select from EV Landshut of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga Marco Sturm."
Tomas Fleischmann was rumored to L.A..  He's a member of the Colorado Avalanche now.  At 26 years old, Fleischmann could have been a part of the Kings core group going forward.  His situation reminds me alot of Patrick Sharp.  Sharp was buried on a deep Philadelphia Flyers roster and Philly dealt him to Chicago.  Given the opportunity to play in a top-6 role with the Blackhawks; Sharp has become the team's most consistent goal threat.  Have the Kings let the next Patrick Sharp slip by?  Only time will tell.  In limited time; Flash netted 23 goals and 51 points in 69 games.

The Kings responded acquiring a player very similar to Fleischmann.  Just six years older and coming off major knee surgery.

TSN's Bob McKenzie's twitter with the play-by-play on the botched Marco Sturm to Kings rumors.
  • Marco Sturm has been traded to the LA Kings. Details to follow.
  • Sturm is UFA at end of this season. $3.5M cap hit. He is 2-3 weeks away from playing. Thrilled to land in LA. Waived his NTC to go there.
  • Hearing the Bruins received a conditional draft pick for Sturm.
  • Medical issues clouding potential Marco Sturm trade from BOS to LAK. No deal in place at this time. Some uncertainty whether it gets done. 
  • Sturm waived NTC to go to LAK and thought he was on his way but fact he is still injured complicated matters. Stay tuned. No timeline. 
  • BOS GM Chiarelli says he spoke to Sturm about waiving NTC but no trade with another team was ever consummated. 
  • Sturm, tho, thought trade was going thru. Sources say LAK backed off over how long before/uncertainty over when Sturm would be back. 
  • Final word on aborted Sturm deal: LAK were furnished with player's medical records. They had concerns with what they saw. 
  • My own personal opinion is that once Sturm is actually ready to play, this BOS-LAK deal could get re-visited. We will see, I suppose.  

Sturm is coming off a torn-ACL and MCL that he suffered in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals back in May.  His recovery time was quoted at six months but in reality it takes most players at least a full calendar year to recover.  Anyone that remembers Michal Handzus's first season in Los Angeles will remember him lumbering around the ice at what seemed about 60% after coming off major-knee surgery.  Zeus eventually bounced back but it took a full year for him to get back to his career averages.

For a player like Marco Sturm who relies more heavily on his speed and skating ability to create offense; it's a shaky proposal at best to think Sturm could return to form in time to help the Kings this season.  At a cap hit of $3.5 million and Sturm expected to miss at least another 2-3 weeks; the Kings would be paying Sturm close to $400,000 before he even laces them up in a game.  It's just good business sense not to make a deal for the 32-year old until he's completely healthy.

BOTTOM LINE: Considering it's been made public that Chiarelli approached Sturm about waiving his NMC; it's only a matter of time before this deal gets done.  Once Sturm is completely healthy; Chiarelli will be forced to clear more cap space and moving Sturm is the likely solution.  Lombardi and Hextall love players they're familiar with and Sturm fits the bill.  I'll say Sturm is a King by the new year. 

A little Marco Sturm highlight reel so you know what to expect when he's lined up next to Kopi. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Struggles, Ray Whitney & Fleischmann To The Kings?

Willie Mitchell
Willie Mitchell More Important To Kings Than Drew Doughty?

I could do a recap of the Kings pathetic road trip but Kingscast has that coveredI could do a recap of the Kings loss to the Hawks but TheRoyalHalf has that covered.  So I'm going to do what I do best: Spin the Rumor Mill.

Wow.  Who knew that the Willie Mitchell/Alexei Ponikarovsky loss would affect L.A. more than the loss of Drew Doughty.  (I wonder if Dean Lombardi points to the team's splits at the negotiating table with Drew's agent?...).  Had it not been for Jonathan Quick's miraculous shootout performance in Boston; the Kings could easily be winless in their last seven games (Although, one could say the Kings were robbed in Ottawa, which we were, but moving on...).

Coach continues to pull names out of a hat to fill the Kings first-line left wing spot.  Coach has tried seven different players there and no one has stepped up.  Lombardi went shopping in Manchester and the best Hexy could offer was Dwight King.  In Dwight's defense, he has played his game but most fans can agree his game is best suited to play in the bottom-six.  In six games, he's averaging slightly under 12 minutes a game while registering zero points and three shots on goal.  I wouldn't be surprised if we see John Zeiler up on the Kings first-line tomorrow night.

The Kings need to look outside the system for help.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Panic, Defense, and Dwight

With the Kings in the midst of a three-game losing streak; it's time to hit the panic button.  The Kings defensive zone play in the past three games has been terrible.  Untimely penalties, terrible zone coverage, and just a lack of intensity at times have cost the Kings in the last three games.  Only four points separates all five teams in the Pacific Division.  Yikes!
Thomas Hickey
Thomas Hickey...Where are you?
The loss of Willie Mitchell has exposed the lack of NHL-ready defenseman in the Kings system.  Davis Drewiske has played solid this season but he can't anchor a defensive pairing.  When Coach Murray pairs him with Peter Harrold or Jake Muzzin; Kings fans everywhere start getting the sweats.  If Campbell, Hickey, Martinez, Teubert, Voynov, etc. aren't ready to step in now; it's time to acquire someone who can.  Souray anyone?  I thought former Flame Ian White may been the perfect acquisition but those dreams were crushed when he was dealt to Carolina earlier this week.

The Kings failed to sign Ilya Kovalchuk and while Kovy's contract seems to have single-handedly destroyed the New Jersey Devils franchise and 23 years worth of work for Lou Lamoriello; the Kings miss Kovy (or at least a player like him).  The Kings have lost a number of 30-goal scorers that played the left-side.  Michael Cammalleri, Alexander Frolov, and yes...even Matt Moulson.  The rumors of Iginla to L.A. continue (which I think I started...Schenn for Iginla???) but their need for a left wing is more pressing.  Dean Lombardi should be monitoring Paul Kariya's health and interest in playing this season.  It's been a revolving door on the first-line alongside Kopitar and Brown all season long with no success.   

First, Scott Parse played decent enough during his five games but he'll be out 3-4 months after surgery to repair the labrum in his hip.  Any hope of Parse emerging as the next Kris Versteeg will have to be postponed until at least the 2011-12 season.  Then Coach Murray tried Brad Richardson there.  He's got some good speed with decent hands but he's best served as a bottom-six forward.

And now...Dwight King.
Dwight King
Dwight King: The missing link?
Five random facts on Dwight King so you can impress other Kings fans with your vast knowledge on our new 1st line left wing.
  • Dwight was selected with the Kings 4th round pick in 2007.  A pick they acquired from Calgary along with Jamie Lundmark and a 2008 2nd round pick in exchange for Craig Conroy. 
  • The Kings had ten picks at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  Dwight is the fourth Kings selection from '07 to make his NHL debut joining Oscar Moller, Wayne Simmonds, and Alec Martinez.  Only Thomas Hickey and Joshua Turnbull remain in the Kings system.
  • King spent five seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL.  The Hurricanes selected Dwight 4th overall in the 2004 WHL Bantam Draft.  Other notable draftees: Thomas Hickey (3rd), Brandon Sutter (6th), Luke Schenn (20th), Kyle Turris (41st). 
  • Dwight has a brother D.J. who currently plays for the Washington Capitals.  D.J. spent the last three seasons with the St. Louis Blues.
  • My Dwight scouting report: Possesses good size at 6'3, 218.  He's a grinder that plays a physical style.  His game reminds me a bit of Wayne Simmonds minus the flashes of offensive flair and awkward skating stride.  He's a bottom six forward that's ideal in a checking-line role.  More well-suited replacing Ponikarovsky on the Kings third-line than 'Kovalchuk' on the first.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo Drop: Kings Warmups v. Dallas

Dallas came to play against the Kings but L.A. stood their ground and won a close one 3-1.  Game got physical in the second and third periods.  Former King Brandon Segal stopped Kyle Clifford's fists with his face.  Jonathan Quick played outstanding once again, earning the game's first star, and then refusing an interview with Heidi after the game...

Justin Williams sniped a beautiful goal on the power play in the third.  He's been playing outstanding this season (knock on wood).  A fan actually called into Kings Talk and asked about the Kings extending Williams's contract past this season...who would of thought after the way he finished last season...

Some of my favorite photos after the jump or see them all on my Flickr page.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Subway Super Series: Maxim Kitsyn

Max Kitsyn
The Kings may have missed out on Ilya Kovalchuk in the off-season but they have their own high-scoring Russian left winger garnering alot of attention at the annual Subway Super Series.  The Super Series is a six game exhibition between the best Russian junior players and All-Star teams from the OHL, WHL, & QMJHL.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bill Plaschke Likes Hockey?!

Bill Plaschke says, "I Like Hockey!"
If you didn't read the Sunday L.A. Times you missed out a rare gem.  Bill Plaschke, one of the last sports columnists at the Times decided to write an article about our beloved Kings.  Read it here.  If you don't want to read it all; here's the Cliffnotes version: Plaschke can't believe that Kings players actually like spending time with each other.  The Kings are winning and the rest of Los Angeles should start jumping on the bandwagon with him.  Now for my favorite part of the article. 

I'm not sure if Plaschke was using some sort of literary device to exaggerate how little he knows about the game of hockey but I had to read it over twice because it read so terrible...
But until then, they are fun enough that even while UCLA's Kai Forbath was kicking a game-winning field goal against Oregon State on Saturday night, I was perfectly jazzed watching as Kopitar took a pass off the boards from Brown, juked two Nashville defenders and stuck the puck in the upper corner of the net.
Juked?  I believe the word he's looking for is 'deked.'
...stuck the puck in the upper corner of the net? Shot the puck top shelf sounds a bit better, eh?

I'm going to e-mail him right now...

Hockey Cards

I use to collect hockey cards.  ALOT of hockey cards.  More hockey cards than any kid should have.  I quickly learned that 1990-91 was the year to collect.  You could pull rookie cards of superstars like Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano, Alexander Mogilny, Curtis Joseph, etc.  It looks like alot of trading card companies including Upper Deck will release a set with a vintage look from 20 years ago. I've been playing around with Photoshop and decided to give it a shot with my own pictures on a couple custom cards.

Andrei Loktionov

Jonathan Bernier

Derek Forbort

Monday, November 8, 2010

Photo Drop: Tampa Bay Lightning

Jack Johnson & Mattias Ritola
Jack Johnson Checks Mattias Ritola
A little late to the show but check out some pictures I took at Thursday's 1-0 victory vs. Tampa Bay.  Check out some of my favorites after the jump.  And check out all of them on my Flickr page.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla

Jarome Iginla
King Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla
Pierre LeBrun jumped on Hot Stove on HNIC and speculated that if the Calgary Flames were to move Jarome Iginla; the Kings would be a perfect fit.  He reiterated his point on HNIC Radio that he's got from sources that Iginla is atop the Kings 'wish-list' if he were to become available.
(Iginla) would go along with the character-type guys the Kings have added over the last two years, players like Ryan Smyth and Willie Mitchell.
I couldn't agree more.  The Kings failed to acquire Kovalchuk.  The cap space is still sitting there.  The team is still missing that top-line scoring winger.  Dean Lombardi has exhausted the point that he doesn't want to jeopardize the signings of Doughty, Johnson, and Simmonds.  I absolutely get that point but look at any of the teams that have won a Cup in the post-salary cap era and all of them went 'all-in' for a couple of seasons before losing some key contributors as part of the salary cap.  It's part of building a team now.  The Kings are one or two players short from being considered legit contenders and the time is now to pull the trigger on a deal.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thanks Matty!

Mattias Norstrom
Mattias Norstrom: A Class Act
The Kings really know how to throw a party.  Nothing says, "Thank you Matty!" like a Swiss Coffee Maker.  Did you know that Matty was a two-time All-Star?!?!  It was great to see fan favorites like Ian Laperriere and Rob Blake (I kid...I kid) back at Staples Center.  Ilya Kovalchuk haters filled the arena as he was booed every time he touched the puck.  Kovalchuk had his moments but the Kings took the game 3-1.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Treat

Brent Sopel or Bruce Wayne?...You Be The Judge
Although his time with the Kings was short-lived, Brent Sopel quickly became a fan-favorite amongst hockey fans in Los Angeles....OK...who am I kidding.  Nobody liked Dave Taylor's last ditch effort to save his job by trading former first-round picks Denis Grebeshkov and Jeff Tambellini to the Isles for an injured Sopel and Mark Parrish.
But Halloween is this weekend and who wouldn't want to see an NHL defenseman dressed as Batman and babble on for a couple minutes.  He actually writes a blog too that I stumbled upon (Life of a Hockey Widow).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For All You Canes Fans...

Eric Staal
Eric Staal
I shot a couple pictures of the Canes during warmups.  Managed to get a few shots of former Kings Joe Corvo, Tom Kostopolous, and my favorite Patriiiick OOOOOO' Sullivan (Sorry, Tim Gleason fans).  Check them all out on my Flickr page.

The Blindside

Drew Doughty
Doughty Should Take All The Time He Needs
The 2010-11 NHL season has gotten off to quite a controversial start.  We've seen seven suspensions and six fines thrown out in the first three weeks of the season.  The Kings have found themselves right in the middle of a couple controversial hits over the past week.  Let's take a look at both of them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

2010-11 NHL Rookie Class

The NHL Post-Lockout has given alot of young players the opportunity to make an immediate impact.  I found a couple Youtube videos featuring the best of the this year's and last year's rookie classes.  Pretty impressive stuff...

Friday, October 15, 2010

What Happened?!?!

This news may have flown under the radar for most Kings fans but for me this is a crime.  An absolute shame.  The Manchester Monarchs for some odd reason decided to change their jerseys for the 2010-11 season.  I got my first glance of these new sweaters in NHL 11 but thought EA Sports just didn't get the design in for some reason.  Once the AHL season began; the new jerseys were unveiled on the ice.  The Monarchs went from having one of the cleanest looking jerseys in the AHL to having one of the ugliest.  I'm glad I got my Trevor Lewis gamer.  Remember?

They use to look like this...
And now they look like this...
If it ain't broke...don't fix it!

Opening Night Recap

2010-11 Los Angeles Kings
You Know It's Opening Night When All 20 Kings Are Standing On The Blue Line For The National Anthem
The hockey season doesn't officially start for me until the home opener.  It's always fun to get reacquainted with the Kings equipment managers and training staff.  I didn't get there early enough for all the pregame fun outside of Staples Center but Chris Kontos over at The Royal Half did.  Kings won 3-1.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Opening Weekend Recap

Kopi's Ready For Halloween (PHOTO: ESPN)
  • Kings score two goals this weekend and manage a split.  Can't really complain about that.
  • The Kings throwback jerseys on Saturday were awesome.  Jonathan Quick's pads and mask were great too.  I like his throwback mask more than his current one.  I was really hoping to see some names but the Kings didn't permanently add names to the back of their Road uniforms until the NHL required them for the 1977 season.
  • Kopitar wasn't seriously injured from an unintentional high-stick in the corner from Manny Malhotra that led to Kopi receiving 15 stitches on the outside; four on the inside, and the loss of a fake tooth. 
  • Brayden Schenn looks like he belongs and should grab that open slot on the second-line any day now.  Kyle Clifford seems to have lost all that aggression that earned him this opportunity.  He may be on his way to Barrie before the week is over.
  • Jarett Stoll dominated the faceoff circle with ease this weekend: 9-11 v. Vancouver & 11-13 v. Calgary.  Good for 83%.  
  • Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier both looked solid in net.  Their contrasting goaltending styles are entertaining to compare.  Quick relies on his athleticism while Bernier is so positionally sound that he makes difficult saves look easy.  Some will question Calgary's second-goal scored by...Craig Conroy...but I'm willing to guess that Drewiske screened and tipped that shot past Bernier.  Besides, Bernier kept the Kings in the game on a number of occasions like this one...

  • The Kings 4-on-3 power play at the end of OT on Saturday was downright ugly.  I'll give credit to the unit for keeping the puck in Vancouver's zone for the entire PP but watching Kopitar pass up open shooting lanes and instead defer to Stoll for one-times off the side boards and watch him miss the net three consecutive times was beyond frustrating.  Sheldon Souray anyone?
  • Raitis Ivanans was unable to answer the bell on Sunday for Calgary after getting his own bell rung on Opening Night versus Edmonton's Steve MacIntyreBut in true Terry Murray fashion; he skated a fourth-line of Schenn-Clifford-Westgarth. And in true Ivanans-form;  Westgarth proceeded to take two minor penalties for hooking and interference.  FYI Coach: Tim Jackman isn't scaring anybody on the Kings.
  • Andrei Loktionov sitting in the press box.  Either play him or get him back to Manchester.  Please Dean...Don't let Coach give him the Oscar Moller-treatment.
  • My buddy picked up Alexei Ponikarovsky in our fantasy league auction draft for $9.  I don't think I saw Poni or Simmer play in Calgary last night.  I picked up Alexander Frolov for  $18.  I'm going to go out on a limb right now and say we both overpaid.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Prediction Time!

My 2010-11 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings
With the season starting tomorrow; it's prediction time... 

The Capitals and Devils are head and shoulders above the rest.  The Penguins added some nice pieces to their blueline but forcing Sidney Crosby to spend another season playing with Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz on his wings should be against league policy.  If Philly can acquire a proven goaltender like Tim Thomas or Tomas Vokoun; they should be recognized as legit contenders as well.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Frozen Fury XIII: Kings 3, Avs 2

FF XIII: No Pacquiao-Mayweather But We Got Clifford-Wilson
Got back from Frozen Fury XIII earlier today.  It was my fourth consecutive Frozen Fury weekend.  Never gets old.  Check out Chris Kontos's writeup on his first-ever F.F. experience at The Royal Half for the complete experience.  I'll just get to my impressions of the game.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thomas Hickey Back To The 'A'

Thomas Hickey
Thomas Hickey: This Season's P.K. Subban!
Hammer reports that the Kings have sent Thomas Hickey back to Manchester.  I'm not against this move considering Hickey only played in 19 games last season in Manchester; he needs to be able to show he can stay healthy for a full-season in the AHL before he gets killed in the NHL.  I'm just not very confident in the Kings other options.  With Matt Greene expected to miss at least the first month of the season; Terry Murray will have to choose a bottom-pairing from the likes of Davis Drewiske, Peter Harrold, and Jake Muzzin.  Sheldon Souray? 

Best-case scenario: Drewiske finds his game pre-last season's injury, Harrold plays like Mike Weaver, and Muzzin plays like Randy Jones? 
Worst-case scenario: Drewiske doesn't find his game, Harrold plays like Harrold, and Muzzin plays like an over-aged junior player with 14 games of AHL experience making the jump to the NHL.

I'm thinking it falls somewhere in-between.

Matt Moulson Hits Primetime

I was watching 30 Rock last night and I spot Paul Giamatti in a guest-spot wearing a Tavares Isles Jersey.  And then out of nowhere...well just watch the video.  It's the only video on youtube I could find.

Matt's got a Twitter: 30 Rock tonight there's a new character on the show who's an Isles fan...chirps me...all in good fun

Friday, September 24, 2010

Frolov's Rangers Debut

I promise I won't keep updating you on what Frolov does during the regular season.  Well, unless he scores 40 goals this year like I think he will.  He was the game's first star last night and had this nice little dangle.

ESPN Interviews Rich "Clunatic" Clune

ESPN's Pierre Lebrun was in LA on Monday covering the Kings. He discussed the Doughty/Mitchell D-pairing, the Kings backup goaltending situation, and Rich Clune.

What We Learned Tonight

Kyle Clifford
"Yes Kyle...You still look just as crazy on the beautiful new Panasonic HD scoreboard."
Lessons learned from the first home preseason game of the season.
  • Staples Center should have installed an HD Scoreboard a long time ago.  That thing is beautiful.
  • Kyle Clifford is crazy.  He racked up 19 minutes of penalties trying to retaliate on a clean hit.  He's the forward version of Colten Teubert.  I know alot of people are excited about him possibly making the team this year but I just don't see it. 
  • Clifford fought Paul Bissonnette.  Bissonnette has a twitter (BizNasty2point0): "Drew 5 minors tonight. Is that a league record? And clifford suckered me 3 times, dropped my mits and pumped him with 3 then he wrestled me. Anyone who saw the fight as a win for clifford ur a meat stick. But then again there are a lot of u out there. Go yotes. Boom."
  • Our top four defensemen: Doughty, Mitchell, Johnson, and Scuderi were all shaky.  They allowed Phoenix way too much room to operate in the offensive zone.  Mitchell's play along the boards was strong but he didn't look comfortable handling the puck at all.
  • Wayne Simmonds was outplayed by Kings ECHL/AHL prospect Dwight King tonight.  Not a good sign.  Simmer didn't look good in Monday's scrimmage either.
  • Brayden Schenn got credit for the Kings' lone goal but Dustin Brown did all the work setting him up.  Schenn's going to be awesome but I think he's back in Brandon for one more season.
  • Andrei Loktionov has continued to impress me.  His offensive instincts are NHL-ready.
  • Brandon Kozun was checked off the puck at least four times in the first period.  Gabe Gauthier? Justin Azevedo? Mike Cammalleri?  Too soon to tell...
  • Jake Muzzin & Johan Fransson could be a nice Manchester.  Sheldon Souray?
  • Gone but not forgotten.  Patrick O'Sullivan scored in Carolina's 3-1 defeat of Nashville.  Alexander Frolov had a 3-point night (1 G, 2 A) in the Rangers 4-3 OT win.
Check out some photos from last night's game after the jump.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Old Friend Says Hello

So I visit TSN to catch up on all the exhibition games from tonight and who's there on the homepage waiting to say, "Hello!"

Why it's former Kings enforcer Raitis Ivanans!  In true 'Ivanans Form,' Raitis managed zero points, zero shots, -1 and a minor tripping penalty in 6:28 of ice-time.  Looks like Raitis may have played on a line with Bryan Cameron, an unsigned 3rd round pick of the Kings in 2007.  Cameron led the CHL in scoring with 53 goals for the Barrie Colts during his overage season in the OHL.

Bud Vision: Bud Holloway

Bud Holloway
Bud Vision: Bud Holloway

The Manchester Monarchs look like they've handed Kings prospect Bud Holloway a Flip video  cam to document some of the off-ice experiences of training camp.  An exclusive interview with Monarchs defenseman David Kolomatis and a trip to 'supper' with some of the Kings top prospects. Pretty entertaining videos.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Photo Drop: Training Camp Opens!

Jonathan Bernier

Finally finished going through all the photos.  You can check them all out on my Flickr page.  Day One here.  And Day Two here.  Check out a few of my favorites after the jump.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Round 4 Home Game 1

I'm working at a feverish pace trying to get through all the pictures I took at Training Camp this weekend.  Hopefully, I'll have them uploaded tomorrow.

Went to check on Fro in New York.  He didn't do much.  Just a hat-trick playing alongside Marian Gaborik in the first scrimmage of camp.  Sigh.

Our season tickets came in the mail a while ago.  No upgrades, no free jersey, not much of anything really but they did include all the postseason tickets in the booklet this year.  A bit of a tease perhaps...but Round 4 Home Game 1!  Let's do it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm So Excited!

Training camp opens tomorrow.  I plan on being there all day.  Hopefully, I get some decent pictures to post up here in the next couple days.  Hammer has all the details regarding the groups and schedule for this weekend and the next couple weeks.

See you there!

(P.S. The track on this video reminded me...Linkin Park's new album is awesome!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sheldon Souray Anyone?

Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini issued a statement Monday evening that the organization would not allow defenseman Sheldon Souray at camp when it opens this weekend.  Per TSN.
"We've been trying to move the player for some time obviously," Tambellini explained to reporters at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C. "Sheldon has expressed strong interest over a long period of time that it's best for him to move and we're going to try and help him with that. I couldn't get that done prior to this camp. I hope to get it done during camp, but it's best for the Oilers for him not to be at camp right now."

The relationship between the organization and Souray has been strained almost since the day Souray signed a 5-year, $27-million deal in Edmonton.  In his first season as an Oiler, he played in a career-low 26 games after suffering a separated shoulder.  Their tumultuous relationship came to a head following Souray's criticism of Oilers' management back in April.  Per Sportsnet.
"I got challenged by management on the very first day of my first training camp. The very first day," he said. "They said, ‘When are you going to play?’ I said, ‘I have a six month (shoulder) injury and I’m at five months.’ But I played.
"I’ve had the experience of playing in great organizations (in New Jersey and Montreal), and experienced a vastly different approach to things like that. I was a captain in Montreal. I never had my character questioned there, or in New Jersey. I feel that’s all I’ve had since I’ve been here.’"
Souray has two years and $9-million on his contract with a cap hit of $5.4 million.  The Oilers placed the 34-year old defenseman on waivers back in July but he went unclaimed.  The Oilers have put themselves in a tough spot with Souray.  He's a top-four defenseman with a bad contract and there aren't many teams that can absorb $5 million.

Souray's a three-time all-star who holds the NHL single-season record for most power play goals by a defenseman.  Tambellini has most likely shopped Souray around to all 29 teams with no takers at a $5.4 cap hit.  The Oilers last ditch effort to move Souray will most likely be to put him on re-entry waivers which will cut Souray's contract and cap hit in half.

With the Kings inability to add another impact forward in the off-season; the Kings should look to add more offense from the blueline.  And at a $2.7 million cap hit, Souray could be a nice short-term fit.  With Doughty, Johnson, Scuderi, Mitchell, and a healthy Greene forming a strong top-five; Souray could round the Kings defense into the best in the league. When healthy, Souray can log big minutes in any situation.  He's only one year removed from a 23 goal, 53 point season.     Souray's ability to shoot the puck has made him one of the premier power play quarterbacks in the entire NHL.  He could immediately help the Kings already improving powerplay by quarterbacking the second unit removing Jarret Stoll from a position that he just never fit into.  He's a fluid skater who jumps into the rush.  He's a physical presence on the blueline who's willing to drop the gloves.

Souray is a veteran with some playoff experience that could bring some much needed toughness to the Kings.  At 6'4, he'd be a nice big body to have on the blueline to compete with all the great forwards in the Western Conference.  His strong two-way play could be the perfect compliment to the Kings blueline and buy another season of development for Thomas Hickey, Colten Teubert, and Jake Muzzin. 

Check out this video and learn more about Sheldon Souray...and watch Jason Strudwick give some of the most awkward answers ever.

Souray's goal reel with Montreal.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hockey Season Has Arrived!

I always know hockey season has arrived when EA Sports releases their new NHL game.  If you're reading this blog and have a Playstation 3 or XBOX 360; you owe it to yourself to go pick up NHL 11 first thing tomorrow morning.  I've been a loyal supporter of the NHL series since NHL 94 on the Sega Genesis.  I strayed a few years to the NHL 2K series during my Dreamcast days but have been loyal to EA for quite a while now.

EA's motto has always been: "If it's in the game, it's in the game."  And this year is no different.  Tons of new gameplay tweaks, broken sticks, new revamped faceoff machine.  No longer is it the same game with updated rosters.  With the PS3's Blu-Ray Disc; developers can load up an endless amount of content into each game.

For NHL 11, EA got the licensing to the CHL.  Which means all the OHL, QMJHL, and WHL players, jerseys, logos, etc. are in the game.  If you want to play as Brayden Schenn on the Brandon Wheat Kings, you can.  If you want to play with Brandon Kozun and Martin Jones on the Calgary Hitmen, you can.  If you jump into GM Mode; all the junior players will be affiliated with the NHL team that drafted them!  Say you want to revamp the Edmonton Oilers; you can bring Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson over from his Swedish Elite League team. 

Unfortunately, the KHL refuses to be in the game because they want nothing to do with the NHL.  Pretty stupid that they're the only major hockey league not featured in the world's #1 selling hockey hockey.  But who knows...maybe there's some Russian game developers developing KHL 12.

EA's Hockey Ultimate Team has to be the most addicting mode I've ever played on a sports game.  It's awesome.  You take the reigns of a team.  Are given a salary cap and EA Pucks currency to shape your team with trading cards of every player in the game.  You can play offline or online with your team to earn more cash to spend on new cards.  It's awesome.

Anyways, I could go on for pages.  If you're on a Playstation 3; my PSN is cikiri.  Friend me & let's play if you dare.  Beware!  I'm pretty good!...haha...Just kidding....or am I...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NHL Backup Goaltender's Twitter Controversy

It's been a while since my last blog post.  I'm still recovering from the news that Paul Kariya is sitting out all of the 2010-11 season.  I've been a bit sidetracked since the arrival of NHL 11 which I'll be writing about soon enough if I can ever put it down.  But moving on..

The majority of NHL fans have no idea who Dan Ellis is.  A few fans will remember him as the Predators starting goaltender who lost his starting job to Pekka Rinne last season.  Well with the power of Twitter; Ellis has some new found fame.  I was going to blog about Dan Ellis and his controversial tweets right after I read them.  I was too lazy but  Puck Daddy took the story and ran with itHere's what Ellis tweeted.
If you lost 18% of your income would you be happy? I can honestly say that I am more stressed about money now then when I was in college.  I can't explain it and I never thought it would be the case but it is true.  $ in no way makes u more happy or makes life much easier.  If you don't make a lot of money I don't expect u to understand the same way I could never understand what it is like to risk my life daily as a fire fighter or police officer...especially not a soldier.  There r pros and cons to every profession.  U r kidding yourself if you think money makes things any easier.
Dan may be right but talk about being insensitive and being way out of touch with reality.  He just signed a 2-year deal worth $3-million.  He made $2-million last season.  $1.5 million during the 2008-09 season.  Are we supposed to feel for him?  He gets paid to play a game.  What's causing him so much stress?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Welcome To L.A. Willie!

After attending the Kings Development Camp in July; I became worried. The Kings lost Sean O’Donnell to free agency and had yet to sign a defenseman. Jake Muzzin wasn’t ready. Thomas Hickey wasn’t ready. Colten Teubert was hurt. Viatcheslav Voynov was missing and now threatening a move to Russia. Then the news broke that Matt Greene was going under the knife, all of a sudden, leaving two gaping holes to fill on the Kings blueline.

I began searching the list of remaining free-agents for bargains (or scraps). Two names jumped out at me: Ruslan Salei and Mike Weaver. Salei has been steady his entire career up to last season when he battled back injuries last season. Mike Weaver left Los Angeles as a fringe NHL defenseman and has slowly developed into a solid reliable bottom-pairing defenseman for Vancouver and St. Louis. Both were snatched up within the week.

Willie Mitchell was the only remaining player on my Free Agent Shopping List. But I figured he was a longshot to sign in Los Angeles. Well, because quite frankly, every top free-agent seems to be a long shot for the Kings.

I began asking the question that I never thought I’d ever ask: Who is going to replace Sean O’Donnell?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jersey Pickup: Trevor Lewis Game Worn Manchester Monarchs

My First Monarchs Gamer!

I've wanted a Manchester Monarchs Authentic Edge jersey for a couple seasons now.  The authentic version sells online for $280 and sometimes you can get them on sale for $165 from the team store.

I've watched for game worn jersey auctions only to see the prices sky rocket to ridiculous amounts.  I also spend alot of time on eBAY looking for any deals.  And finally my search paid off!  

I had been hoping to get my Kings jerseys lettered with Kovalchuk #71 or Kariya #9 this summer but since both look like a longshot; those funds were allocated to this purchase: A game worn Trevor Lewis Manchester Monarchs jersey.

Last season was a wash for him after he suffered a serious shoulder injury that knocked him out for the majority of the season.  But he recovered in time for the postseason and was one of Manchester's best players.  He was third on the team in scoring with 9 points in 16 games and led the team with 52 shots.  At 23, he still has alot of upside.  Lewis could be the Kings third-line center next season with Handzus's contract expiring at the end of the season.

Here's some basics on the jersey:
- Size 56
- Edge 2.0
- Everything sewn directly to jersey; LEWIS on matching nameplate
- Assistant Captain 'A' glued on
- Multiple holes and stick marks on the sleeves and body

The seller was unsure if the jersey was worn during the 2008-09 or 2009-10 season.  After checking box scores and photos; I've come to the conclusion that this was Lewis's last jersey for the 2009-10 season because of the assistant captain 'A.'  I can't find any box scores or photos that designate Lewis as an assistant captain except for the 2009-10 Calder Cup Eastern Conference Finals Game Six; where Lewis wore the 'A' as a replacement for the injured Marc-Andre Cliche.

Here's a couple of game photos off

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Poni-Kopi-Willie: Best Line In Hockey?

Since the Kings haven't done much of anything this offseason; I'm forced to over-analyze the one player Dean Lombardi did acquire.  While searching for 'Alexei Ponikarovsky' I stumbled across this Puck Prospectus article.  Puck Prospectus thinks very highly of Poni and they've got some obscure statistical analysis to back it up.  

CORSI number is the relatively new statistic being discussed in-depth by hockey geeks.  It was actually derived by long-time Buffalo Sabres goaltending coach Jim Corsi.
Corsi is a plus/minus stat that measures shots directed at net. For example, if the Edmonton Oilers direct 30 shots at even strength at the Calgary Flames' net in a game, while the Flames direct 45 shots at the Oilers' net, the Oilers have a Corsi of -15 for the game.
This team Corsi number is also broken down and applied to individual players. For example, if Sheldon Souray is out on the ice for 10 shots directed at the Flames' net, while the Flames direct 15 shots at the Oilers' net while Souray is on the ice, he's said to have a Corsi plus/minus of -5.
So now that we all have a general understanding of CORSI.  Let's take a look at Ponikarovsky.  His CORSI number last season was 18.99; good for seventh in the league (50+ games).
...if the LA coaching staff is in any way of the Corsi-persuasion, they will pair Ponikarovsky with Anze Kopitar (8.94) and Justin Williams (16.78) to create a line capable of uber-possession.
Based on last year’s Corsi value, the Kings new line could rank 5th in the league on combined Corsi, and even better considering that Andrew Ladd is now with the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Blackhawks top two-lines of Hossa-Ladd-Sharp and Toews-Kane-Brouwer were among the leaders.  As well as Detroit's Holmstrom/Franzen/Datsyuk and Washington's Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin.  Now, no one is going to confuse Ponikarovsky-Kopitar-Williams with any of those lines but the statistic IS intriguing. It ultimately means that if Terry Murray decides to flank Kopitar with Poni & Williams his wings; Kings fans can expect alot of puck possession and shots on target.
Ponikarovsky’s career shooting percentage is a respectable 11.4%, while Williams (9.4%) and Kopitar (12.7%) are above average as well.
Hypothetically speaking the puck possession and shots should lead to more scoring chances which should ultimately lead to more goals.  This statistic obviously doesn't take into account Justin Williams's fragile body and inability to stay healthy.  But in a world where the CORSI number statistic rules: A Ponikarovsky-Kopitar-Williams line is among the best in the NHL.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weird Looking...

I know I'm kind of late but the photo was so disturbing; it deserved it's own blog post.

Modano, the all-time leader among U.S.-born players in points and goals scored will wear jersey #90 for obvious reasons (Gordie Howe).  Modano will always be a Minnesota North Star/Dallas Star just like Ray Bourque will always be a Boston Bruin.  Bourque chased his Cup; Modano already got his so I guess he' just chasing the dream of playing one more NHL season back home in front of family & friends in his home state of Michigan.

One Dream Crushed...Another Lives On...Sorta

Teemu Selanne will be back at least one more season with the Ducks and he's still trying to lure Kariya to Anaheim.  Kariya doesn't owe anything to those fans in the O.C but I think the thought of reuniting with Teemu intrigues him especially after their disappointing reunion in Colorado.  I think Kariya is a Duck by the end of the week.  I think both guys stay healthy and terrorize the Kings.  Both Kariya and Selanne have been Kings Killers their entire careers (check out the career numbers versus L.A.).

Kariya: 63 GP, 34G, 38A, 72 PTS, +13, 26 PPP, 5 GWG
Selanne: 86 GP, 47G, 57A, 104 PTS, +26, 40 PPP, 9 GWG

So the dream of having Kariya and Selanne reunite in Los Angeles is dead.  The dreams of Kariya finishing out his career in a Kings uni are most likely dead.  I'm clinging to Willie Mitchell right now.  The Selanne/Kariya story was a bigger deal to me than the arbitrator ruling in favor of the NHL in the Ilya Kovalchuk case but here's a quick take.

The 17-year $102 million contract that Ilya Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils pushed the envelope further than it had ever been pushed.  The contract was so heavily front-loaded that he would have made 97% of his total salary by Year 11 with six more years left on the deal.  The NHL had to draw the line.  It's really as simple as that.

I'm a little surprised so many seem so surprised at Bloch ruling on Kovalchuk. I just figured there was a chance for following reasons: Kovalchuk contract pushed envelope further than it had ever been pushed. 17 years? Unprecedented. Age 44. Unprecedented. 6 big dropoff years at end? Unprecedented. I'm no lawyer but if it was 15 yrs, age 42 and 4 dropoff years, it's a lot more defensible, IMO.
So Kovalchuk is currently an unrestricted free-agent again but all signs pointing to him returning to New Jersey and the Kings staying out of it.  Hopefully, Kovalchuk signs soon in NJ so the Kings can finally hold that Alexei Ponikarovsky press conference we've all been waiting for.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Dreams Crushed Again...

I've come to accept that the NHL doesn't have much of a case against Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils and will most likely lose their arbitration hearing.  Kovalchuk won't be a King.  Who could fill that void?  Paul Kariya!  Of course!  If you're reading my blog for the first time; you should read this post first to understand my loyalty to Paul Kariya.

Three players off my Free Agent Frenzy shopping list are still out there: Kariya, Teemu Selanne and Willie Mitchell.  I don't think we get any of them.  Dean Lombardi seems pretty content rolling out the same team we did last year minus Frolov, OD and Greene (for the first month).  The addition of Ponikarovsky will not drastically improve this team. 

Andy Strickland got my hopes up a couple weeks ago...
 Paul Kariya will play only if the fit is right....think west coast...Los Angeles Kings???
Anaheim is doing their due diligence behind the scenes on Paul Kariya...Appears a pretty good chance Kariya lands back with Ducks
Now this really kills me.  I always thought Kariya to the Kings was a longshot.  I figured he'd go to Pittsburgh or Detroit and try to pull a Robitaille or Blake and get his Cup.  But the Ducks???  The majority of Ducks fans hate his guts more than Kings fans for the way he left.  And I don't think anyone is considering Anaheim a Cup favorite.  Either way, I'm perplexed and confused.  I don't think it's a good fit but I'll support Kariya none the less.  It won't be the first time I've rolled into Staples Center with a Kariya Ducks jersey on...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kings Get A Poni

The 30-year old Ukrainian-born Ponikarovsky is almost a mirror-image of Frolov.  Poni, similar to Fro, is as streaky as they come.  He'll show glimpses of world-class talent only to disappear for weeks at a time.  His inconsistent play frustrated Leafs management and fans alike.  The Pittsburgh Penguins outbid a number of teams for Ponikarovsky at last season's trade deadline to lineup with Sidney Crosby only to have Poni disappear and be a healthy scratch during the playoffs.

Poni isn't nearly as skilled as Frolov but Poni is a better defensive player.  Poni's 6'4 frame adds size up front and he definitely likes to hit more than Frolov.  He'll help the Kings cycle the puck in the offensive zone; four-20 goal seasons prove that he's got a nose for the net. 

Here's what Poni had to say about the Kings.  Per Helene.
"Kings were trying to bring me in at trade deadline but it didn't work out...I knew they still had interest in me.  With the the Kovalchuk situation everything was on hold but they came to me and said they want to see me in their lineup."
Poni is a nice complimentary player but he's just that.  A complimentary player.  He's another fringe second-line player who joins a battle with Smyth, Williams, Parse, Brown and Simmonds to battle it out for the chance to skate on the first-line with Kopitar.  With that said, the Kings still have a gapping hole in their top-six.  The Kings forward core looks decent but how much better does it look with Frolov AND Ponikarovsky?  Terry Murray's head would have exploded having to deal with both of them but still...

I'm going to continue to rally for a Paul Kariya-Teemu Selanne reunion in Los Angeles. 

PREDICTIONS for the 2010-11 season
Ponikarovsky- (17 G- 29 A- 46 PTS)- I don't see Poni getting the same opportunities in L.A. that he did in Toronto.  He'll play on the second and third lines for most of the year; assuming that Smyth stays relatively healthy.

Frolov- (36 G- 44 A- 80 PTS)- Call me crazy but I think Frolov is going to do wonders in New York playing first-line minutes with Marian Gaborik.  A few Kings fans think that Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella won't be much of a fan of Frolov's inconsistent play.  I'm of the belief that once Frolov gets some top-line minutes again; his game will take off. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Voynov: NHL-Ready or KHL-bound?

While the Kings wait for the next chapter of the Ilya Kovalchuk Saga to unfold...
Traktor's (KHL) Director said #LAK prospect Voinov and #FLA prospect Dadonov will return to KHL if either can't make NHL team this season.
Voynov surprised alot of people when he made the jump directly to the AHL as an 18-year old.  He's a smooth skating defenseman who's got some offensive upside.  He's made huge strides over the past two seasons but it didn't sound like Ron Hextall was totally convinced that Voynov could make the jump to the NHL next season during his wrap-up session with Hammer.
Slava improved this year, defensively, and played a much more sound defensive game. He’s got to get better at communicating with his teammates. I think the language is part of it. I was a little surprised when I met with him at the end of the year, though, that he talks a lot better than he did a few months ago, even. But it’s the real quick communication on the ice. He’s still got some work to do there. He’s got to get better at that. Offensively, I think he can push his game to another level next year, but again, this is a 19-year-old kid playing in the American league. I wouldn’t say he’s knocking on the door. He’s got a little bit of work to do, just like the rest of them.
If the Kings fail to acquire another top-four defenseman before training camp opens; the Kings will have two spots open on their blueline with the departures of OD and Randy Jones.  Voynov will most likely battle other prospects like Andrew Campbell, Davis Drewiske, Thomas Hickey, Alec Martinez and Jacob Muzzin for the remaining spots.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's Old Is New Again?

I have no idea what's going on with Ilya Kovalchuk and the Kings.  So here's some other random thoughts.  Brad Richardson's arbitration is coming up next week according to Hammer. 
Unless the Kings reach agreement on a contract with Brad Richardson in the next week, he will have his arbitration hearing on July 23 in Toronto.
I have no idea what type of money Richardson is looking for but if it's anything over a million; let him walk. He made $600,000 last season. He recorded 11 goals and 16 assists and was one of the Kings most consistent bottom-six forwards. With that said, the Kings need to play this smart. They haven't signed Kovalchuk yet because they're worried about keeping their 'core' together. Richie was useful but he's not a core player. He's a bottom-six grinder that can occasionally chip in offensively. Does he deserve anything more than the 2-year, $1.8 million contract Scott Parse got? Probably not.  If Richie walks, I've found his replacement.  If Richie stays, I've found Fro's replacement.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Well...There Goes Fro...

 As we reach Day 14 of the Ilya Kovalchuk saga; I began to put together a list of possible alternatives in case Kovy decides to go elsewhere.  One of those options was obviously bringing back Alexander Frolov.  According to Dmitry Chesnokov, a regular contributor on Yahoo's PuckDaddy blog, Frolov doesn't have much interest in returning to Los Angeles.
Frolov's agent: "We have a offers from a few NHL teams; 99% certainty Frolov won't stay in LA; Frolov will make a decision w/in 10 days." 
Can't blame him really.  His asking price will have to come down for any team to sign him but the Kings pretty much walked him out the door.  Good luck to Fro wherever he goes.  I think the Kings are going to miss him alot more than they realize.  His puck-possession in the corners and constant wrap-around attempts frustrated fans but who else on the current team can do that?