Sunday, February 28, 2010

Photo Drop: I Blame Myself


I should have never started drawing this picture during the Olympics...

Who knew it would foreshadow the Gold Medal Game...

I'm sorry Team USA.  It's my fault.

Darn It

I didn't want to be right with my prediction.

I thought the USA had it after Parise tied it.

Anyone but Crosby...anyone but Crosby...

His legend is building quicker than Gretzky's....seriously...think about it...

USA played a fantastic tournament.  No regrets.  Well besides Rafalski's turnover that led to Canada's first goal.  Or the fact that Ryan Malone and Joe Pavelski failed to backcheck on Canada's second goal.  But other than that!  No Regrets!

Trade Deadline is Wednesday.  NHL starts up again tomorrow...the stretch run!  How can anything follow these last two weeks of hockey. 

How are players like Sidney Crosby going to go from playing with world class players like Jarome Iginla and Mike Richards to scrubs like Ruslan Fedotenko and Pascal Dupuis?  Should be fun!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ryan Miller Guarantees Gold Medal!

Sort of.  MSNBC's Willie Geist was duped!  The victim of a prank call...


Now's The Time...


Paul Kariya is available.  Per Andy Strickland.
Word is Paul Kariya would waive his no-movement clause if he has a chance to move to a true Cup contender.
 Yes, Paul Kariya would be a perfect fit for the Kings.  Here's Why.

Oh and by the way, US destroyed Finland.  Canada took care of business.  See you Sunday afternoon. 

I want revenge on that crooked Canadian judge that did Apolo Ohno wrong tonight with that disqualification.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Biggest Letdown Ever


The NHL has done it's best to build up a rivalry between the league's two biggest stars.

Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals last year was built up bigger than the Stanley Cup.  Pens versus Caps.  Crosby v. Ovechkin.  And then what happened?  The Caps got blown out on home-ice.  After two periods, it was 5-0 Penguins.  Pens embarrassed Ovechkin and the Caps winning 6-2 on their way to capturing the Stanley Cup.

The NHL has built up a Russia-Canada Matchup.  They dedicated an entire day of programming to a Crosby v. Ovechkin Special.  This was supposed to be the Gold Medal game.  The two most highly-skilled teams in the World.  The two biggest stars of the NHL.  

The matchup came a bit earlier than anyone expected but it was going to be great none the less.

And then Russia took a big dump on everyone:.  A big dump of "Euro-trash" according to Mike Milbury.  Russia's biggest stars failed to show.  Pierre LeBrun agrees.  Once Canada went up 1-0, Russia's stars pulled off one of the greatest disappearing acts in sports history.  Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk and the rest of them looked overwhelmed.  Too much one-on-one talent.  No teamwork.  No battle.  No push-back.  No Heart.

Evgeni Nabokov looked to be fighting the same demons that have kept his San Jose Sharks from getting past the Western Conference Semi-Finals in forever.

And Head Coach Vyacheslav Bykov.  What in the world was this guy thinking?  His line combinations early in the tournament were head-scratchers.  He finally got them right after a loss to Slovakia.  But his decision to keep Nabokov in for six goals was frustrating. 

And the most frustrating decision of all: playing Alexander Ovechkin in-front of the net on the PP?!  Really?! Has Ovechkin been working with Tomas Holmstrom and Ryan Smyth on his deflections and tip-ins?  He's got the best shot of any player in the world.  He'll take 5-6 shots on a Capitals power play.  Yet on Russia's man-advantage, Ovechking doesn't even touch the puck.

Bottom Line: Canada owned Russia but the Russians surrendered this game to the hometown team before the game even started.  Russia's decision to send nine KHL players and expect them to find chemistry with the NHL players was foolish.  Their attempt to make a statement to the hockey world that the KHL is on-par with the NHL was idiotic. 

If there was any doubt that the NHL's Russian Stars would be in Sochi in 2014,  I think we can all guarantee that they'll be there with a HUGE chip on their shoulder after this embarrassment.

Crosby 2.  Ovechkin 0.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Team USA's Motivational Speaker?

Barry Melrose brought Tony Robbins into the Kings Locker Room during their Stanley Cup run in 1993.  Maybe Ron Wilson will give this kid a call...

Trade Deadline Targets: Columbus Blue Jackets


ROSTER ANALYSIS
The Blue Jackets are loaded with young talent at all positions.  Calder Winner and Vezina nominated Steve Mason has suffered a terrible sophomore jinx.  Mason's struggles in goal cost head coach Ken Hitchcock his job in Columbus.  Many felt Hitchcock's defensive system kept alot of their young high-skilled forwards from succeeding.  The Jackets are a good team that hasn't been able able to catch a break this season.  They've got a good young core and shouldn't be looking to sell off too many pieces.

POSSIBLE TARGETS
1. Fredrik Modin (UFA 812,500)- Modin would be a pretty nice pick-up but he's struggled with injuries over the last two and half seasons.  He's appeared in only 23 games this season and misssed 91 games over the previous two seasons.  He was a key contributor on the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup team posting 19 points in 23 playoff games.  Although he's gone pointless in nine playoff games since.  He's a big body that's hard to move and strong defensively.  He could be a low-risk, high-reward type pick up for Dean Lombardi.

2. Raffi Torres (UFA 562,500)- Raffi has been a solid contributor for the Jackets.  His 19 goals this season is tied for second on the team.  He's most productive as a third-line grinder who can chip in offensively.  He's a high-character player; the type of player Dean Lombardi loves.  At 28, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Kings dealt for him and then attempted to re-sign him.  Although, the Kings most glaring need is for a high-skilled winger to play with Kopitar.

3. Nikita Filatov- It's a long shot but did somebody say high-skilled winger?  Nikita Filatov is the most-skilled player not in the NHL right now.  Filatov and former bench boss Ken Hitchcock didn't see eye-to-eye at times this season; prompting Filatov to request a return to Russia.  He's scored 24 points in 23 games for CSKA since the move.  Is Filatov available?  Probably not.  Filatov's main issue was with Hitchcock but he may decide that he's done with the Blue Jackets organization all together.  In which case, the Kings should offer everything but the kitchen sink to acquire this 19-year old sniper.

My Apologies To Brian Burke


I owe an apology to Brian Burke and Team USA.  I was highly critical of one selection on their 23-man roster.  Chris Drury just didn't fit in my eyes.  Drury had 22 points in 57 games for the Rangers leading up to the Olympics.  He had been relegated to fourth-line duty at times this season.  He didn't seem to earn his spot on this roster.  I felt that Blues young forward T.J. Oshie had done everything to solidify his place on this team.  I still feel that way but I understand now, after Drury's performance vs. Canada, why the Rangers captain is on this squad.

He does everything and anything his team needs to win the game.  He always makes the smart play and rarely makes a mistake.  He's one of Team USA's best penalty killers; he constantly gets his stick in the passing lanes and blocks shots with the best of them.  His sprawling block attempt on Drew Doughty's point shot epitomizes the type of player Drury is.  On offense, he goes to the high-traffic areas and has no problem mixing it up with the Pronger's and Weber's.

I'm happy Chris Drury has proved me wrong.  But in 2014, make no mistake about it.  T.J. Oshie will be on Team USA instead of Drury.  Oshie is ten years younger and is already showcasing many of the same skills that has helped Drury earn his reputation as one of the best leaders in hockey.

A glimpse at the future of USA hockey.



***UPDATE #1***

Apparently, I'm not the only one apologizing to Brian Burke and Chris Drury.  A former outspoken King turned TV Color Analyst is doing the same.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!


So my predictions were a bit off.  And I couldn't be any happier.

The United States Men's Ice Hockey Team stunned an entire country with their 5-3 victory over Canada.  I'll keep it simple and point out my three keys to the game.

1.  GOALTENDING
Surprise surprise.  The team that got the better goaltending won the game.  Brodeur's ability to handle the puck was supposed to be an advantage for Canada especially without the trapezoid behind the net.  Brodeur's skill (or lack thereof) ended up being his downfall on Sunday.  He made three mistakes handling the puck that led directly to goals for the Americans.  ESPN's Pierre LeBrun thinks Brodeur's Olympics should be over.

On the other end, it was Miller Time for Team USA.  Ryan Miller was spectacular making 42 saves on the night.  USA wasn't great in front of him and Miller stood on his head for most of the game.  Miller showed a glimpse of why he's still the favorite for the Vezina this season.

2. PRESSURE
The pressure got to Canada.  The entire weight of a nation is on the shoulders of the 23 members of Team Canada to win Gold and it showed on Sunday.  They played tight and made uncharacteristic mistakes on both ends of the ice.  Team USA came out relaxed and it paid off just 41 seconds into the game with a goal.  Brian Rafalski's goal stunned the country and took the crowd out of the game early.

3.  VETERAN PLAY
Alot of analysts have chosen to make a big deal out of the American's inexperienced roster.  This was supposed to be a team in transition.  No more Leetch, Roenick, Chelios, Tkachuk or Modano.  With only captain Jamie Langenbrunner, forward Chris Drury and defenseman Brian Rafalski having Olympic experience; Team USA was supposed to struggle to even contend for a medal.  Well, the veteran trio combined for four of Team USA's five goals.  They know a little something about winning; the trio has also combined to win five Stanley Cups.

In contrast, the veterans for Canada showed their age.  Chris Pronger couldn't keep up with the speed of the young American forwards.  His physical play was absent.  Scott Niedermayer had some key turnovers, soft play along the boards and just looked a step behind the play.  The usually even-keeled captain for the Ducks' even showed some frustration running Jack Johnson into the boards with a late hit after the whistle to end the second period.  Canada's top offensive line of Sidney Crosby, Rick Nash and Mike Richards combined for a -8. 

WHAT'S IT ALL MEAN?
Nothing yet.  Although, the United States has earned the top-seed and an automatic bye into the quarterfinals.  Canada will have to play Germany just to advance.  Their path to the Gold will be tough; the Canadians will have to likely defeat both Russia and Sweden for a spot in the Gold Medal game.

P.S.- My predictions on the score may have been off but I called this one right before it happened.  Dustin Brown pulled off his trademark between the legs move on Drew Doughty.  And then DD recovered and poke-checked the puck off Brownie's stick.  It was a nice moment for Kings fans everywhere.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

NBC=FAIL

Are they seriously going to tape delay the Czech-Russia game and overlap it with the US-Canada game?

Unbelievable!

Super Sunday

If you're any sort of hockey fan, today belongs to you.

Don't move.  Don't do anything but sit in your most comfortable chair and enjoy what the NHL/IIHF envisioned when they allowed NHL players to participate in the Olympic games.

PREDICTIONS

Noon: Russia v. Czech Republic.  Russia 5-2

4:40: USA v. Canada.  Canada 3-2

9:00: Sweden v. Finland.  Sweden 4-3

Please NBC,  you've already buried these games on cable/satellite.  Don't make hockey fans suffer through another match of curling gone long and cut to the game in progress.  Please!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Trade Deadline Targets: Toronto Maple Leafs


ROSTER ANALYSIS
The vultures have been circling the Leafs for sometime.  Calgary poached a number of the Leafs attractive deadline pieces but Brian Burke has kept their biggest trading chip in Tomas Kaberle.  The Leafs are desperate for a first-round pick in the next two drafts.  Any team willing to deal their first-rounder will have Brian Burke's attention.  The Leafs have established two cornerstones in Kessel and Phaneuf; everyone else should be on the table.

POSSIBLE TARGETS
1. Tomas Kaberle (1.062M, UFA 4.25M)- Kaberle is probably the most highly-debated topic in Toronto.  He has a no-movement clause that will be lifted this off-season.  He wants to be a Leaf.  Keep Him or Trade Him.  Reminds me alot of the Mats Sundin/Toronto Saga. Kaberle is a true power play quarterback who's decent enough in his own end not to be considered just a PP specialist.  He gets a bit pass happy but he's one of the best puck-moving defenseman in the NHL.  In a perfect world, the Kings could pair up Kaberle and Doughty and have one of the most lethal power plays in the league.  Unfortunately, I think their asking price will be too high for the Kings to be a real sutior.

2. Alexei Ponikarovsky (UFA 526K)- He's an enigmatic winger who brings size and a scoring touch but his game is marred by untimely penalties and inconsistent play.  Sound familiar?  He's Alexander Frolov Version 2.0.  I'd take him but I'm not getting into a bidding war for this guy.

3. Lee Stempniak (UFA 625K)- At a $2.5M cap hit, Stempniak is being overpaid.  His game has improved this season but he's nowhere near the 27 goals he scored during the 2006-07 season.  He possesses good speed and decent hands.  I'd take him at half his current salary next season.  He could fit on the third-line.

4. Rickard Wallin (UFA 200K)- The Leafs brought him to Toronto in an attempt to lure 'The Monster' out of Sweden.  Wallin's been the most criticized Leafs player this season because of his lack of production.  He was nearly a point-a-game player for Farjestad (SEL) but hasn't showed the same scoring touch as a Leaf.  He's a smart player who can play in all situations.  Could be a nice addition to the Kings bottom-six.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Trade Deadline Targets: Edmonton Oilers


With the NHL Trade Deadline just a few days after the conclusion of the Olympics; NHL GM's are laying the groundwork for their deadline deals now.  And for the first time under the Dean Lombardi-era; the Kings are absolutely buyers.  Lombardi did his best to temper fan's expectations at the deadline but what fun are trades without the speculation.

I'm using sportsclubstats.com's playoff odds to distinguish who the sellers will be.  Teams with less than a 25% of making the playoffs will be discussed.

A few criteria to narrow down the search:
  • No Goalies.
  • UFA status within the next two years.
  • RFA status next year
ROSTER ANALYSIS 
The Oilers have struggled with long-term injuries to their three best players this season: Hemsky, Khabibulin and Souray.  The rest of their roster is made up of too many players with the same skill-sets that are being overpaid.  Too many undersized second line forwards.  Too many offensive-minded defenseman.  Majority of their roster is overpaid.
 
POSSIBLE TARGETS
1. Patrick O'Sullivan (597K; RFA 2.925M)- Sully's had a tough go in Edmonton.  He hasn't met the Oilers' expectations and he's clashed with Pat Quinn numerous times this season.  I loved the way his two-way game started to develop last season.  At 25, I think Sully is still the right fit.  Although if he's been labeled a 'problem child' by Dean; you can forget about it. 

2. Denis Grebeshkov (RFA $787K)- The Kings are missing another puck-moving defenseman to go with Doughty and Johnson.  At 25, Grebeshkov fits with the Kings core moving forward.  At a $3 million cap hit, the Oilers would probably prefer to move him.  I would love to add him to our blueline past this season but if he's looking for a payday; I could see another move to the KHL for Grebs. 

3. Fernando Pisani (UFA 625K)- He intrigues me because I still remember him as the player who led Edmonton to the 2005 Stanley Cup Finals with 14 Goals in 24 games.  Unfortunately, Pisani has battled injuries ever since.  Pisani's battles with ulcerative colitis, a broken leg and bad back have cost him good portions of the last three seasons.  If healthy, he could slide in nicely on the fourth line and a be a productive player.   

4. Jason Strudwick (UFA 175K)- Strudwick impressed me when the Oilers were in town.  Little offense but solid in his own end.  Randy Jones shouldn't see the ice anymore.  I think the Kings need another puck-mover but Strudwick could be a nice fill-in. 

5. Ethan Moreau (500K; UFA 2M)- The Oilers' captain is a fourth-liner who brings all the leadership qualities you'd want in a captain.  Moreau's preparing himself for a move but I doubt it'll be to Los Angeles.  A fourth-line checker with a cap hit of $2 million for next season; I'll pass. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2010 Olympic Live Blogging: Russia v. Latvia


PRE-GAME
  • Latvia's jerseys= Harry Potter?
  • My Prediction: Russia 10 Latvia 0
FIRST PERIOD
  • Fedorov assists on Zaripov's PP Goal.  Russia 1 Latvia 0
  • Latvia takes another penalty; this could get ugly quick
  • I think Ovechkin just took a five minute shift
  • Radulov nets the rebound from his knees.  Russia 2 Latvia 0
  • Scramble in front of Russia's net on the PP.
  • It's a shooting gallery here tonight for the Russians.
  • Semin steals the puck and Ovechkin nets one from the slot with his skates on fire.  Russia 3 Latvia 0
SECOND PERIOD
  • Russians are dominating the puck.  It's like watching the Red Wings x10.
  • Huge Russian turnover; BIGGER save from Nabokov point blank.
THIRD PERIOD
  • KOGI Taco Truck
  • Need Food...Too much hockey...
  • Russia 8 Latvia 2
MY THREE STARS
1. Alexsei Morozov
2. Alexander Semin
3. Andrei Markov

2010 Olympics Live Blogging: Canada v. Norway


PRE-GAME
  • NBC/MSNBC/CNBC get your programming together.  I'm here stuck watching Japan/US curling while you guys have the game on another channel.
  • So much RED; looks like a Caps home game.
  • My Prediction: Canada 7 Norway 0
FIRST PERIOD
  • Sidney Crosby making his presence felt early.
  • Drew Doughty on the PP!  Sweet!
  • Norway's going to hold on here.
  • Wow, 0-0.  Didn't see this coming.
SECOND PERIOD
  • Norway playing with fire; 3rd straight PP for Canada.
    Jarome Iginla one-timer from the high slot from Crosby.  Doughty with the second assist.  Arena explodes.  Canada 1 Norway 0
  • Flood gates are just about open.  Chris Pronger with a rocket from the blueline tipped by Dany Heatley.  Canada 2 Norway 0
  • 5-on-3 for Norway.  Mike's excited.
  • Mike Richards grabs the loose puck behind the net and stuffs it.  Canada 3 Norway 0
  • Doughty Hip-Check.
THIRD PERIOD
  • Luongo comes up big with a huge pad save and then Norway misses the open net.
  • Getzlaf missed the open net on the delayed penalty and then a few seconds later backhands it in.  Canada 4 Norway 0
  • Norwegian goalie change?  No matter.
  • Another Canada PP.  Dany Heatley slap shot top of the left faceoff circle.  Shortside blocker side.  Boom goes the dynamite.  Canada 5 Norway 0
  • All-Star Game goal except Norway's actually trying to play D.  Iginla-Crosby-Nash back to Iginla...Yikes!  Canada 6 Norway 0
  • Brendan Morrow?  Give me Captain Canada.
  • Another one.  Staal drives the net and Corey Perry grabs the rebound.  Canada 7 Norway 0
  • Poor Norway.
  • Drew Doughty with a dipsey-doodle around a dman and then the first man back in his own zone.
  • Iginla with the hat trick.  Nothing wrong with his game Calgary.  Canada 8 Norway 0
MY THREE STARS
1. Jarome Iginla
2. Dany Heatley
3. The  Fans

2010 Olympics Live Blogging: USA v. Swiss


Finally.  The Olympics have arrived.  Let the games begin. 

PRE-GAME
  • My pre-game prediction: 5-1 USA 
  • Did Jeremy Roenick really sneak on the broadcast team?  Good Lord! 
  • I love these Swiss jerseys.  They look like a bunch of paramedics skating around the ice.  
  • T.J. Oshie deserves to be on this team. 

FIRST PERIOD
  • Ryan Whitney = overrated. 
  • David Backes is a beast.
  • Dustin Brown draws the game's first penalty.
  • That PP was a mess & did Dustin Brown really just take the faceoff on that PP?
  • The Swiss aren't a bad team at all.
  • Bobby Ryan rips a shot high-glove side on Hiller.  Finally.  Thank you David Backes for your hard work.  USA 1 Swiss 0

SECOND PERIOD
  • I told you Backes was a beast!  Backes goes coast-to-coast and drives to the net with a power move; noseplug and all.  USA 2 Swiss 0
  • Ryan Malone finds the loose puck as the US crashes the net on PP.  USA 3 Swiss 0
  • Erik Johnson has been USA's best defender.  All over the ice on both ends.
  • Doc Emerick might be the only play-by-play announcer in the world that says, "Waffle-boarded away" on a blocker save.  I love it.  Makes me hungry for breakfast.
  • I sure hope Eddie Olczyz's love-fest with Patrick Kane doesn't last for the entire tournament.  It's getting old quick.

THIRD PERIOD
  • Swiss are looking to attack here; US defense loves to pinch.  US is going to get burned here eventually.
  • Physical play is picking up on both-sides.
  • NBC just flashed a shutout stat before the Swiss 2nd PP of the period; Swiss PP goal coming...
  • Did I call it?  Domenicelli?!  He's been all-over the ice.  Nope some other guy...USA 3 Swiss 1
  • I wonder if the Swiss could've kept up this type of attack for the entire game.
  • Tim Gleason > Ryan Whitney
MY THREE STARS
1. David Backes
2. Bobby Ryan
3. Ryan Miller

Handicapping The 2010 Olympic Men's Ice Hockey


Unlike the women's bracket; there's actually a competition taking place on the men's side.  The NHL-ice surface may give a slight advantage to the Canadians and Americans.

There is so much offensive firepower from teams #1-#7 that staying off the penalty kill will be important for every team.  Imagine a Kovalchuk-Malkin-Ovechkin-Datsyuk-Gonchar Power Play....WHOA!

Eight of the twelve countries have NHL starting goaltenders.  Any of them are capable of stealing a game.  Once the tournament reaches the quarterfinals and becomes single-elimination; their could be some huge upsets.

And without further adieu; my predictions for Men's Ice Hockey at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

GOLD: CANADA- No country can match Canada's depth at every position.  With the games in Vancouver; too much is on the line for this team to fail.
SILVER: RUSSIA- The trio of Ovechkin, Malkin and Kovalchuk should be electric but Russia's selection of nine KHL players may end up being costly.
BRONZE: SWEDEN- Sweden's gold medal performance in Torino was no fluke; they'll challenge for Gold.

4. United States- The NHL-size ice surface will help the American's defense ability to match up against the best forwards in the world but they'll be overmatched.
5. Finland- Finland won every game until the Gold Medal match in Torino; Kiprusoff could easily take them to the top.
6. Czech Republic- The Czechs have a ton of depth but if all goes well they'll get a tough draw with Sweden in the Quarterfinals.
7. Slovakia- Halak faces a ton of shots in net for the Habs but he hasn't seen anything yet.
8. Switzerland- Hiller in goal is enough to give them the edge over the Germans.
9. Germany- Ever wondered what happened to former Kings John Tripp, Jason Holland and Chris Schmidt?  Yup, they're representing Germany.  All Canadian-born playing in the DEL. (edit: Jason Holland has been removed from the roster)
10. Belarus- Injuries have taken away two of their four NHLers out of the Olympics.
11. Norway- Poor Norway.
12. Latvia- How bad is Raitis Ivanans that he didn't get selected for the squad?  According to Kuklas Korner, Ivanans is the worst player in the NHL.  No argument here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Photo Drop: Wayne Simmonds Bobblehead


I can't decide whether or not to go with Lil' Wayne or Lil' Simmer.

Not bad for a free giveaway; definitely alot better than those Smitty's and Robek Juice figures they handed out.

Apparently, alot Kings fans are pretty upset they didn't get theirs.  Only 10,000 available.  I saw alot of people walking around with multiples.  Way to ruin a good thing for everyone.  I'm sure TeamLA will have some for sale next home game.  They hoard all those giveaways.

Photo Drop: 2/11/10- Edmonton Oilers

Got to Staples Center a bit late.  Was able to snap a couple photos of former Kings: Lubomir Visnovsky, Patrick O'Sullivan and Denis Grebeshkov.

Bad Night For Everyone


The Kings needed the two points.  The Oilers didn't want the points; they're already looking forward to June's Draft.  

Yet it was the Kings who slept walked through the first two periods and a half before deciding to play.

Don't blame Erik Ersberg for that loss.  There's a reason that last night was only his sixth start of the season.

The Kings went 0-for-6 on the power play.  The Kings PP was painful to watch tonight.  No movement away from the puck equals little success on the man-advantage.

The last five minutes was by far the most entertaining.  The span included Deslaurier's attempt at beheading Doughty and then a spectacular glove save by Ersberg on O'Sullivan's breakaway.

Kings made history again in a shootout that lasted ten rounds.  Watching the replay with my roommate (a non-hockey fan) even recognized the fact that Oilers netminder Jeff Deslauriers used the poke-check nearly every single time.  I mean seriously, you guys are professionals.  

If the Kings were going to lose in the shootout, I knew it was going to be an ex-King.  And sure enough..Lubo came up big.  Speaking of former Kings defensemen, Denis Grebeshkov looked good.  He's an RFA at the end of the year; the Oilers will most certainly be looking to move his $3-million annual salary.
Still don't understand why Terry Murray continues to switch up the lines but hopefully there's a method to the madness because right now the results aren't there.

Oh, and who can forget David Courtney's...Assisted by #6...Sean Oooooo...Suuuullivan!  And then they took the assist away and gave it to Kopitar....That pretty much summed up last night's game.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Remember Lauri Tukonen?



I still remember buying a Monarchs jersey and contemplating putting Brown or Tukonen on it.  Tukonen seemed like the prototypical power forward: size and scoring touch.  Unfortunately, he didn't develop as quickly once the competition was ramped up and his stock fell pretty quickly.  He's considered a 'has-been prospect' at 23.  

The Kings selected Tukonen with the 11th overall pick in the 2004 Draft.  His performance in the U20 World Junior Championships was outstanding; finishing third in tournament scoring (7GP, 3G, 7A).  He led Finland to a Silver Medal and was recognized on the Tournament All-Star team.

He moved to Manchester the following season; where he had three consecutive 30+ point seasons for the Monarchs.  Tukonen battled injuries in each of his three seasons in North America.  His AHL career numbers are respectable: 185 GP, 36 G, 67 A.  His Kings career consisted of five games.

Hammer gave his player assessment of Lauri during his last season in the Kings organization.
His goal totals have actually decreased, from 14 to 13 to 9. Consistency has been a major issues, and the other parts of his game aren't quite strong enough to make up for a lack of offensive production.
He was dealt to Dallas for Clune prior to the start of the 2008 season.  Five months later, he was dealt to Tampa.  He re-signed with Tampa but battled knee injuries during the preseason.  He was assigned to Lukko Rauma of SM-liliga, where he's currently an assistant captain.  Tukonen is sixth on the team in scoring (43 GP, 7G, 16A).

I still hope we see Lauri Tukonen in the NHL at some point.  His junior linemmates Lauri Korpikoski and Petteri Nokelainen have found homes in the NHL as bottom-6 checking line wingers.  At some point, Tukonen will have to commit to making it to the NHL or playing in Finland.  I sure hope he chooses the NHL.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Prayers For The Burke Family

The passing of Brendan Burke last Friday came as a shock to the hockey world.  If you haven't read Brendan's story yet.  Please do.  ESPN's John Buccigross did an awesome job.

Bucci was there Tuesday for the Memorial Service as well.

Thoughts and Prayers to the Burke family.

Brandon Segal Waived & Claimed; Clune Recalled


Brandon Segal will be eligible to be sent to Manchester if he clears waivers at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
Kind of surprising actually.  I didn't mind Segal.  I liked him in the lineup more than Ivanans.  Reminded me of Tom Kosopolous and Adam Mair.  Hopefully, he'll find a spot somewhere.  My heart goes out to the girl wearing the Kings Segal jersey last game.  Hopefully, she was a family member or girlfriend.  Although, her friend was wearing a Jones #12 jersey...Yikes!  Let the speculation begin!  Another roster move coming?

***UPDATE***
In another move, the Kings assigned Rich Clune from Manchester to Ontario of the ECHL today. It seems very likely that some type of move will take place tomorrow, so we’ll see how it shakes out in the morning.
If Hammond is speculating a move coming tomorrow; it's most likely done already.

Carolina's Ray Whitney remains a prime target for the Los Angeles Kings. The Pittsburgh Penguins have also shown interest but it's unlikely the Pens will meet the Hurricanes' asking price of a first-round draft pick and a prospect.
I'd be surprised if Dean Lombardi parts with a first-round pick but crazier things have happened (i.e.- Dan Cloutier extension?).  We'll all soon find out soon enough.  I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for Kariya though. 

***UPDATE #2***
...Brandon Segal has been claimed by the Dallas Stars. In that case, Rich Clune is expected to be recalled by the Kings...
Steve Ott will become a UFA at the end of the year; I could see Segal playing that type of role for Dallas.  We'll see what Clune has; there was quite a bit of hype surrounding him at camp before he was injured.  Clune = Chris Neil?

***UDDATE #3***
I just realized with Segal going to Dallas...

Segal- Tampa/L.A./Dallas
Clune- Dallas/LA
Tukonen- LA/Dallas/Tampa

I bet Clune goes to Tampa within the next 6 months to complete the trifecta.

My Plea To Dean Lombardi: Go Get Kariya!


NOTE: I've been meaning to write this post for weeks.  Finally, I get some time to do it because the Blues/Wings game was on Versus and I've got DirecTV.  And of course, Kariya has himself his best game of the year.  Anyways....

Paul Kariya to the Kings makes sense on so many different levels.

First off, he's my favorite player and the reason I love hockey.  It's hard to believe he's 35 years old now.  For years, I've been attending Kings games wearing a Kariya Ducks, Avs, Preds, and now Blues jersey every time his team's in town.  I've yet to put a name and number on the back of my Kings jersey because I've been waiting for this moment, this opportunity. (queue Eminem's verse now).

"WHY DO THE KINGS NEED HIM?"
Justin Williams's season is in doubt.  The Kings are looking for a left wing.  Dean Lombardi came close to acquiring Ray Whitney.  It's been rumored that Whitney was looking for a three-year extension to waive his no-trade clause.  Bob McKenzie speculated that Whitney wants to stay in the East.  Fair enough.  Don't want him if he doesn't want to be here.  If Kariya were lined up next to Eric Staal (no offense to David Backes), he would be piling up the points as well.

"26 POINTS?!?!  HE SUCKS!  WHY ARE HIS NUMBERS DOWN?"
Age.  Injuries.  The contract.  The team.  The coach.  Kariya is 35 years old.  Injuries have taken a good chunk of Kariya's career away.  With that said, I think the weight of the franchise was put on his shoulders.  He was given a rich $18-million deal to turn things around in St. Louis.  The Blues brought him in and didn't do much else to improve the team.  Their roster went young.  Really young with Johnson, Oshie, Perron and Berglund all making their NHL debuts.  And unfortunately, these rookies were forced to learn the NHL game on the fly.  Coach Andy Murray did his best to help (or was it destroy?) Kariya's game.  Even removing him from the power play and sticking him in a third-line checking role.  Needless to say, Murray was fired.

"OK.  FINE.  BUT WHAT CAN HE DO FOR THE KINGS?"
Kariya isn't the same player he was in Anaheim.  He's not a prolific goal scorer anymore but his hockey sense and quickness still make him a premiere playmaker.  His quickness allows him to go in hard on the forecheck and create turnovers behind the net that often lead to scoring chances for linemates.

His speed is still his best asset.  He still loves streaking down the left wing.  Unfortunately, there's no Teemu Selanne streaking with him so he's forced to take that shot above the faceoff circles.

Kariya can still quarterback a powerplay.  He can set up the one-timer and get shots thru traffic.  People like to argue that he's become a perimeter player but I disagree.  Especially on the powerplay, he shows a willingness to go to the front of the net to make a play and score the dirty goals.

Putting Kariya alongside Kopitar and Simmonds would allow Terry Murray to keep the Smyth/Stoll/Brown line together.  The hockey sense of a Kariya/Kopi/Simmer line is through the roof.  Their speed and ability to make plays on the rush and behind the net in the offensive zone would be awesome to watch.

"YOU SOLD ME!  WE NEED HIM NOW! WHAT'S IT GOING TO COST?!"
Kariya is an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the season.  He's making $6-million this season; he's due about $1-million following the March 3rd trade deadline.  The Blues are sellers, whether they believe it yet or not.  They'll be looking to acquire prospects and picks for their UFA's.

I think the Kings could swing a deal to acquire Kariya and add depth defenseman Carlo Colaiacavo.

Hurricanes blueliner Tim Gleason's name has been linked to the Kings a couple times on some rumor sites.  I would love to have Gleason back.  He's Matt Greene with a touch more offense.  But Gleason is signed to an affordable contract and he's only 27.  I can't see the Canes trading him unless a team overpays.

So who's this Colaiacavo guy?  The once highly-touted Leafs prospect finally stayed healthy long enough to get an opportunity in St. Louis.  He's an offensive defenseman with a booming shot.  He's injury-prone and shaky in his own end.  But I think he's worth the risk considering how badly the Kings need another puck-moving defenseman right now.

If I'm Dean Lombardi, I offer the Blues Teddy Purcell, 2nd Round, 3rd Round and 4th Round Picks.  If the picks aren't doing it;  I'm throwing out names like Elkins, Azevedo, Lewis and Martinez.  

Tedward is not cracking the Kings top-6 and that's where he needs to be to succeed.  Maybe the Oilers or Islanders will take him; they seem to love those 'tweener' type players.  Too good offensively for the AHL but not quite good enough for the NHL.  It's hard to tell whether he's the next Matt Moulson or Jeff Tambellini.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

All Good Things Must...


What happened to the line combos tonight?  What happened to the combos that got us the nine-game win streak?

The Kings looked lethargic all night.  A step slow to the loose pucks.  No effort along the boards.  And their lack of effort turned into penalties.

And did I see Raitis Ivanans taking a regular shift out there?  Raitis.  Drop the gloves.  Your team is losing.  Mix it up.  It's your JOB.  I know Petey would do anything to get in the lineup.

Jonathan Quick looked spectacular at moments.  And absolutely terrible the next.  The Ducks willingness to go hard to Quick's crease and interfere obviously rattled him at times tonight.  Corey Perry did the same thing to Quick that Holmstrom did to him on Saturday.  Quick needs to push back and the defense needs to body up.  Lastly, I'm not sure if Bill Ranford is working on Quick's puckhandling skills but he seems to be getting worse at handling the puck or maybe just more daring? 

The loss is frustrating because we've seen the Kings do so many things right during this streak and to see them do so many things wrong tonight makes it hurt that much more.

I thought when the Ducks lost Getzlaf; the Kings had a shot.  But it didn't matter.  The Kings got beat by a hungry Ducks team with something to prove.  Hammer's Game Recap.

All things considered,  this nine-game win streak has been amazing and catapulted the Kings into contention for home-ice in the playoffs.  I'm already feeling a bit bad for the Oilers because Lord knows Terry Murray will have the boys prepared for Thursday.  I'm predicting a 6-1 Kings victory.

Ryan Getzlaf left the game with an injury that looked worse that just a twisted ankle.  If he can't go next week in Vancouver, does Ryan Smyth get the call?  Probably not but it'd be cool if he did!  My prediction would be a Tampa Bay Lightning: Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos or Martin St. Louis.

P.S.- The Blues looked terrible tonight.  Paul Kariya to the Kings.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

BROADCAST RANT: I've watched alot of NHL hockey on DirecTV.  I've probably caught portions of every broadcast team in the NHL.  Being forced to watch tonight's Ducks broadcast makes me appreciate the job that Jim Fox does that much more more.  I don't want to get into how bad Brian Hayward is at his job because he's had fifteen years to show us.

I thought I'd also take this time to call out the worst color guys in the game today.  Mickey Redmond (DET) and Glenn Harsch a.k.a. "Chico" (NJ) are tied for the worst simply because they don't know any player's names on the opposing teams.  Bob Errey (PIT) and Hayward are battling it out for the podium just because they come across as the two biggest homers of any I've seen.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Photo Drop: 2/7/10- Kings 4 Wings 3

Here's some shots I took at yesterday's game and some shots of the Wings during warmups.



Kings Make History


Wow.  Quick game recap before the Big Game starts.  I'm not sure how the NFL can follow up that Caps/Pens game.  Not sure what the NHL is thinking when they make their schedule and put that game on the same day as the Super Bowl but moving on...

This is just going to be one long rant.  Partly because Rich Hammond wasn't able to cover the game and well it was just that exciting that I want to recap everything again.

The Wings up 3-0 after one but it didn't feel like it. Filppula's goal was a fluke at best and the Kings zone coverage breakdown with just five seconds left was just bad timing.  The scoreboard read 3-0 but I was feeling like it was more 1-0.  Call me a homer.

Although, I did find myself thinking, "The Wings are looking like the old Wings again.  Tomas Holmstrom looks awesome out there."  Once the Wings get Franzen back; watch out.  The Wings are making the playoffs.

Second period starts.  No Holmstrom?  Sweet!  Kings gain some momentum. The Kings third line made things happen.  Handzus and Frolov did their best Red Wings impression and just dominated the puck.  The Kings crashed the net.  And all of a sudden, the games tied.  It all happened that fast.  Seriously.  I was having flashbacks to 2001, but instead of seeing Osgood sprawled out it was our good friend, Jimmy Howard.

Third period.  It felt like the referees were really letting the teams play.  And then Greener takes a high-sticking penalty.  And then Scuds gets called for interference which I thought was going to be the call that cost the Kings their comeback.  Kings kill them both off.  Momentum swings again.  And who wins it?  ZEUS!

Game over.  Kings Win 4-3.  Wings Lose.  Record 9 Straight Wins.  Bring on the Quackers!

If you missed the game, check out NHL.com's video highlights.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Eight In A Row?! & No Kovalchuk...


What a game.  Kings were great.  Then bad.  Then great again.  Ivanans and Parros dropped the gloves early and then took their rightful spots at the end of the bench for the rest of the game.  Kopitar continues to roll with another two goals.  Petey took a scary header into the boards but got up like a champ.  Drew Doughty got some revenge on Bobby Ryan.  Quick was average.  And Jack Johnson had himself a career night.  Rich Hammond's Recap.

Big news broke on the Kovalchuk front.  Don Waddell released a statement.  Bottom Line: The Thrashers offered more than $101 million over 12 years to Kovalchuk.  It became obvious that something was happening soon.  At about 4:30, the news broke that Kovalchuk had finally been traded to New Jersey.  Rich Hammond provided a final recap of the Kovalchuk/Kings Recap.
Atlanta sniffed around Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson and Wayne Simmonds, at least one of whom would have had to have been the center of a trade package.
First off, I think the Kings could have put together a stronger package than what Atlanta got without giving up any of those three players.  Bob McKenzie reported that Atlanta was looking to land two of the the Kings trio.  For an extended Kovy; the deal's a no-brainer.  For a rental, pass.

I draw two conclusions from the Ilya Sweepstakes.  Hockey in Atlanta might as well mail it in now.  There's no way this franchise will be around in the next ten years.  Heatley, Hossa and Kovalchuk all gone for average-NHL players and borderline prospects.  But most importantly, don't allow negotiations with your core players to carry on into their contract year.

Had my first real run-in at a game with a so-called Ducks fan last night.  I was telling my friend how dirty the Ducks d-men played especially Steve Eminger.  And then the guy turns around and trys to explain to me that hockey is a rough sport and that it was Eminger's play that won the Ducks a Cup in 2007; do I really need to inform him that Eminger was a Washington Capital that season?  His Kings friend tried to intervene by telling me to back off instead of telling his buddy to turnaround and watch the game but moving on...On queue, Ryan Getzlaf trips up Brownie in the corner.  Kings score on the powerplay.  Annoying Ducks fan takes the walk of shame.

Kings Warm-Up Pictures from last night.  Bring on the Wings!  Bring on Howard!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lucky Seven & Kovalchuk Talk Again


First off and most importantly, the Kings beat the Rangers 2-1.  Their seventh victory in a row.

Kopi scored the game's first-goal short-handed.  The second-line played another solid game scoring the second.  Quick was solid and came up huge in the last minute of play.  And the Kings won a good close hockey game.  Rich Hammond's Recap.

There were rumblings in the stands that the Kings were on the verge of acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk.  The rumor was reported on an SBNation blog; I have absolutely no idea how credible the site or their sources are so I won't be posting the link here.  With that said, Bob McKenzie did his best to put that rumor to sleep.

You know what I think of these rumors of the LAK on verge of getting Kovalchuk? Total BS. Some interest but fit isn't right at this point.
Will spend more time on bogus reports than actual trades. It's the silly season. Amateur hour. Like New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day. :)
Now, if Kovalchuk goes to LA everyone will say it was good scoop. Telling u, at this time, there's no merit. Take it for what it's worth.
Everyone's doing their best Eklund/Hockeybuzz impressions right now.  TSN's McKenzie and Dreger are two of the best at breaking news.  Until they've got something; we'll have to wait and see.

Atlanta GM Don Waddell did talk to Kovalchuk today and tell him the Thrashers are now exploring their trade options, and reiterated that to Kovalchuk's agent Jay Grossman.
It seems a bit odd that this information became so public.  Waddell's way of driving up the price between bidders perhaps?
...the Thrashers want defenceman Jack Johnson as part of the package. Thus far, the Kings have rejected that notion entirely. The conventional wisdom is that the Kings could trade Johnson, centre Alexander Frolov and a prospect such as Ted Purcell (or one of their many other young prospects) for Kovalchuk and the deal would be done in the snap of the fingers.
JJ, Frolov and a prospect for Kovalchuk is a hefty price tag for a rental.  If the Kings can acquire another defenseman in a separate deal; I do this in a heartbeat.  It was speculated that Simmonds was the hangup but if it's JJ, I'll drive him to the airport.
...the Kings want to do this deal primarily on the back of their prospects. As long as that is the case, the fit isn't right.
...if the Kings' hockey hierarchy switches gears, or ownership in L.A. invokes pressure to make a splash and deviate from the hockey department blueprint, the Kings could easily vault to the front of the pack.
He lists Boston, Chicago, New Jersey, New York Rangers and Philadelphia as other possible destinations.   I think the Kings are desperate for a star.  They know that a good playoff run is what this organization needs.  I see ownership pushing this deal to get done.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Playoffs?!


It looks like the Kings marketing staff and ticketing department are pretty sure the Kings are making the postseason.  I hope this means we're adding some scoring depth and a second PP unit QB.

I like it!

Ray Whitney...Done Deal?


First off, this 'rumor' is courtesy of Hockeybuzz contributor Matthew Barry.  The majority of that website is pure garbage so I'd be skeptical, at best.  But since I think Whitney is on the Kings' radar anyways, I figured I'd throw in my two cents.

Whitney was supposed to be a King by this past weekend. He had apparently waived his no-trade clause.
Ray Whitney is quickly becoming a hot commodity among those teams looking to bolster their offense at the deadline.  For those teams that can't afford Kovalchuk's price tag; Whitney comes at very affordable $3.550 million cap hit.  Many are speculating that Whitney's intentions are to re-sign with Carolina following the season so he's purely a rental.

I watched the Canes/Oilers game today and Whitney aka 'The Wizard' would help any teams top two-lines and power play.  At 37, Whitney is still a highly productive player.  His 41 points (16G, 25A) would make him the Kings' third-highest scorer.

Darren Dreger lists Whitney as the #2 available player likely to be dealt before the trade deadline. 

At Whitney's affordable cap-hit, almost every playoff team could look to add him.  As good a player as Whitney is; I would hate to see the Kings get into a bidding war and overpay for his services.

***UPDATE***
Bob McKenzie is confirming that the Kings and Canes have been in contact regarding 'The Wizard.'  Negotiations got serious enough for Canes GM Jim Rutherford to allow the Kings to contact Whitney's agent, J.P. Barry about an extension.

Per McKenzie
Sources say Whitney was looking for a three-year deal from the Kings in exchange to waive his NTC to go to Los Angeles. The Kings apparently balked. A one year deal might be workable for L.A. but three? No chance.
He also speculates that Whitney's request was simply his way of telling the Kings he has no interest in playing there.
It's believed the Kings were prepared to part with a draft pick (not a first-rounder but perhaps a second) and a prospect (the best guess is that it's one of  Regina Pat defenceman Colten Teubert or Manchester Monarch Viacheslav Voinov), which is apparently the only solid offer the Canes have received so far for Whitney.
That's quite a package for a 37-year old winger but considering he's not costing us any player off the current roster'; it's not a bad acquisition.  I can't see any team willing to give up that type of package for him though.  We'll see who wins out: Whitney or the Canes.  Stay tuned.