As the Kings took the ice yesterday morning in El Segundo to start training camp, fans definitely discussed the absence of Drew Doughty. Everyone knew he wouldn’t be there, since his agent and Kings GM Dean Lombardi have yet to come to an agreement, but #8 was certainly talked about a lot yesterday. I realize he’s a great defenseman and definitely a key player, but I think fans should concentrate on those who WERE on the ice and be happy.
Anze Kopitar, Kings leading scorer (in spite of playing 75 of the 82 games), was greeted by enthusiastic applause by the fans watching training camp. Kopi said it was “a little bit tough to be in the skate for about three hours, but other than that it’s all good.” He said he hasn’t had too much pain and that it’s more uncomfortable than anything else and doesn’t seem to think it’ll affect his skating or play at all. This is definitely good news for Kings fans who had to watch him break his ankle just before the playoffs earlier this year, which was certainly a big factor in the team being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.
Dustin Penner looks better than I can remember him looking – ever. He seemed faster and in better shape, which could be a very good sign for Kings fans. Penner, who trained very hard during the off season reduced his body fat percentage by 4%, but would not tell us what his body fat percent is (or was). When asked about being on the ice with Kopi and Williams, he said they probably only got to play in about 6 games together due to the timing of his arrival and Kopi’s injury, but said that “the chemistry came a lot quicker with those two guys.”
Training camps always bring new faces to a team and this year is no exception for the Kings. Mike Richards, Simone Gage, and Trent Hunter seem to be fitting in well with the Kings. In fact, team captain Dustin Brown found himself having to fit in with Richards and Gagne, who know each other’s style of play well.
The Kings’ first pre-season games are split squad games (home and away) against the Coyotes this Wednesday night. I’m not sure which players will be in Staples Center, but hockey returning to LA is always a good thing for the fans. Since it looks like there won’t be a season for the NBA this year, the Kings should find themselves having more Saturday night games than originally scheduled. Most fans I’ve talked to about this change are happy about it. Traffic for 1pm games is always bad for me both ways, so I’m sure the same is true for many fans traveling to Staples Center. SoCal hockey is back! If you have a chance to get out to the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, all Kings Training Camp practices are open to the public.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Coyotes, Dean Lombardi, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Dustin Penner, Kings, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Staples Center, Toyota Sports Center, Trent Hunter
Though I still think the Winter Classic (in Philadelphia on January 2nd this year at 8pm) is the NHL’s big moment to gain fans, I also think the move to Vegas in 2009 was a good move and the NHL seems to be presenting the awards better every year. They don’t seem to know where the awards will be in 2012, but I’m hoping they get a new contract here in Las Vegas. Everyone seems to like it. The players get an excuse to come hang out and have fun together in Vegas and the fans have a great place to enjoy surrounding their trip to watch the awards and see their favorite players. Each year the number of players (along with their families and friends) attending and parties for them to attend seems to be growing. It seems like a perfect relationship for the NHL – hopefully, it will continue for a bit longer. I’m generally not a fan of visiting the Vegas heat at this time of year, but as long as you stay inside most of the time, it’s a lot of fun.
Corey Perry lost out to Daniel Sedin for the player-voted Ted Lindsay award, he won the one Daniel Sedin himself described as the “greatest award you can win as an individual” (he went on to say that “it’s been a fun life, so I can’t be disappointed”). Perry won the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded every year to the MVP of the NHL as voted on by members of the NHL Hockey Writers’ Association. The emotional Ducks’ scoring leader said it was his team that got him there. A lot of his family and friends were able to travel to Vegas to see Perry win the award, which definitely makes this moment all the more special. Perry said when he heard his name, “it kinda shocked me – you don’t really believe it.” I’m sure the accomplishment will set in after a bit of celebrating with everyone who came to Vegas to enjoy this with him.
Dustin Brown took home the NHL Foundation Player Award this year, his third year nominated. Clearly, the third time was the charm for him and his charity KaBOOM. I’m sure Kings fans were also happy to see Ian Laperriere (always a favorite ex-King) win the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, for the player exemplifying the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, & dedication to hockey.
Daniel Sedin (2011) and Henrik Sedin (2010) became the first brothers to win back to back Art Ross Trophies (awarded for leading the league in scoring). It was also great to see Tim Thomas get the Vezina for the best goaltender again – especially in the year the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. Though I know the voting takes place before the playoffs, no one deserved the Stanley Cup more than Tim Thomas the way he performed and during the regular season he did the same thing for the Bruins night after night. It was great to see him rewarded for that hard work.
On a personal note, I enjoyed seeing Dan Bylsma win the Jack Adams award for coach of the year. I think what he did with the Penguins in spite of all their injuries was truly an amazing accomplishment, even though they clearly wanted to do better than they did getting knocked out in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If you get a chance to catch one of the re-airings of the NHL Awards on Versus or the NHL Network, I’d highly recommend it. I’m glad I recorded it, so I’ll be able to watch some of the bits I missed, due to running around and talking to the winners. Apparently, there was a USA vs. Canada part two and I’m looking forward to seeing that when I get home from Vegas tomorrow. For now, it’s almost time to go enjoy more of this fun city!
Tags: Bruins, Canucks, Corey Perry, Dan Bylsma, Daniel Sedin, Ducks, Dustin Brown, Henrik Sedin, Hockey, KaBOOM, Kings, Las Vegas, Lightning, NHL, NHL Awards, Penguins, Stanley Cup, Tim Thomas, Versus, Winter Classic
At the start of the Finals, I thought the series would go to 7 games, which it did. I thought Vancouver would win and clearly that’s not what happened. In the end, Boston played a lot harder. Though the Canucks have never won the Stanley Cup, the Bruins hadn’t won it in my lifetime, so it’s definitely been a long time since the 1972 Stanley Cup win in Boston.
I thought it would be nice for Vancouver to win the Cup for the first time, but the whole series, I thought Tim Thomas (Conn Smythe winner, Stanley Cup Finals MVP) and his team deserved the Cup more. They were the harder working team and surely won over most fans who went into the Finals undecided about who they wanted to win.
The Bruins outscored the Canucks 23-8 in the 7 games of the Finals even though the Canucks had the same number of shutouts. Each team shut the other out two times, but Luongo and the rest of the Canucks did not rise to the occasion of the Finals and had to watch as the Stanley Cup was awarded to the Boston Bruins.
Alain Vigneault made some errors with keeping Luongo in a bit too long throughout the post season that seemed to come back to haunt him. The way he coached, he didn’t deserve to have his name on the Cup any more than the team that played with a pretty lackluster effort throughout the Finals and most of the playoffs.
I love seeing game sevens in the Stanley Cup Finals, but it’s a shame that many of the individual games weren’t that interesting. The Bruins’ wins were all blow-outs, so the only truly interesting games of the Finals were the first three in Vancouver, which the Canucks won. Tonight’s game was the first the away team won and Boston definitely picked the right time to turn that streak around.
The Boston fans are celebrating tonight, though they probably wish their team could have been awarded the Cup in Boston, so they could have watched it in person. There will surely be a big parade to celebrate the Cup win. Many Bruins fans weren’t alive the last time the Stanley Cup was won by their team. They’ve finally been rewarded.
Great job, Bruins!
Tags: Alain Vigneault, Bruins, Canucks, Conn Smythe Trophy, game 7, Hockey, MVP, NHL, playoffs, Roberto Luongo, shutout, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup Finals, Tim Thomas
For the conference finals, I did as well as a coin would have done, so not that great. I did get the western conference correct, since the Canucks are going to be in the Stanley Cup Finals and the Sharks will again miss their first trip to the Finals. The Bruins just barely beat the Lightning in 7 games, but they did make it to the Finals this year.
Now, it’s time for my Stanley Cup Final predictions…
Stanley Cup Finals
Canucks vs. Bruins
Canucks in 7 – Before the season started, I predicted that the Vancouver Canucks would win the Stanley Cup. Once it became clear they were winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the best record of the regular season, I questioned this pick and thought they’d be knocked out before they got to the Finals. At this point, I’ve gone back to thinking they’ll pull it off and win their first Stanley Cup this year.
The Sedin twins have hit their stride and Tim Thomas is the best goaltender heading to the Finals. It should be quite the showdown.
The Canucks looked shaky against the Blackhawks in round one and Predators in round two. Both times it looked like the Canucks might be eliminated, but they fought back. Vancouver was a lot stronger against the Sharks and perhaps they were given a gift by the Sharks managing to take the Red Wings out of the competition before the conference finals, but the Canucks have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in their history. Perhaps the third time will be the charm. It is the first time the Canucks have been in the Finals against a non-New York City based team (they lost to the Rangers in 1994 and the Islanders in 1982).
The Bruins looked shaky in their first round, great against the Flyers, and just barely beat the Lightning. I think the Bruins are having trouble again when they need to be on top of their game to win the Finals, but the Canucks have pulled things together in time to get past Tim Thomas and win the Stanley Cup for the first time.
Enjoy the Finals!
Tags: Bruins, Canucks, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Hockey, Lightning, NHL, Presidents' Trophy, Sharks, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup Finals, Tim Thomas
Last round, I definitely thought most of the series’ would go the other way. The only one I predicted correctly was the Lightning/Capitals series, though I thought the Caps would win a couple games. Both of the eastern conference teams swept their last series and both of the western conference teams struggled. This round should be interesting.
Now, it’s time for my conference final predictions…
Bruins vs. Lightning
Lightning in 6 – The Lightning have looked good consistently this playoff season. The Bruins have been hit or miss. The first round, it looked like the Bruins were going to get knocked out. They came back, advanced, and then swept the Flyers, but both of these teams depend heavily on their goal tending and Roloson of Tampa Bay has been the better goalie this post season. Boston’s Tim Thomas was the best in the regular season, without a doubt. However, the regular season doesn’t matter any more and Roloson has looked great in the playoffs. When you add that to their superior playoff offense (St. Louis, Lecavalier, & Downie are all in the top ten, while the Bruins only have one player in the top ten) and I think the Lightning will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. It won’t be an easy battle, but this round should be more interesting than the last round in the eastern conference. No one at this level should sweep.
Canucks vs. Sharks
Canucks in 6 – I think the Canucks were given the gift of being able to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals when the Sharks won game seven against the Red Wings last night. The Canucks and Sharks both struggled in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but I think in their most recent games the Canucks have looked more prepared. Nabokov was blamed for years when the Sharks lost in the playoffs. They’ve never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, but I don’t think they’ll make it with Niemi this year, either. Perhaps if that happens, Thornton will finally get a bit of the blame.
A lot of emphasis has been placed on how little the Sedin twins have done in the post season compared to the regular season. I think that could actually be dangerous for the Sharks, though. If the Sedins both get hot, think of how much better the Canucks would look at that point. Before the season, the Canucks were my pick to win the Cup this year. I changed that when they won the Presidents’ Trophy, since a small percentage of teams best in the regular season take the Cup home. I’m not sure if I think the Canucks can win it all yet, but I do think they’ll make it to the Stanley Cup Finals this year.
Enjoy the playoffs!
Tags: Antti Niemi, Bruins, Canucks, Daniel Sedin, Dwayne Roloson, Evgeni Nabokov, Henrik Sedin, Hockey, Joe Thornton, Lightning, Martin St. Louis, NHL, playoffs, Presidents' Trophy, Sharks, Stanley Cup Finals, Steve Downie, Tim Thomas, Vincent Lecavalier
The Tampa Bay Lightning were the first to advance to conference finals tonight. I expected them to beat the Capitals, but I thought it would be a fairly close series and it would take them six games. The teams I wanted to win most in the first round didn’t do well, but at least the team I’ve decided will be my backup’s backup team for the playoffs swept the Capitals and await the outcome of the Bruins/Flyers series. Right now, the Bruins lead that series 3-0. Who would have thought after a few game sevens in round one that round two would be so boring in the eastern conference? One team swept and the Bruins have a chance to do the same Friday night.
The Sharks are leading their series 2-0 against Detroit and are playing the Red Wings in the first game of the series in Detroit now. At least the Predators/Canucks series has been interesting. It’s had two games end in overtime (one in the second OT) and has actually had both teams in the series win at least one game (Vancouver’s leading the series 2-1).
Hopefully, this round will get a bit more interesting soon. Some of the individual games have been pretty interesting, but sweeps are never very entertaining overall.
Tags: Bruins, Canucks, Capitals, Flyers, Hockey, Lightning, NHL, overtime, playoffs, Predators, Red Wings, Sharks, sweep
The First round of the playoffs, I was much better with my eastern conference predictions. Sadly, the only prediction I got wrong was the one for my favorite team, the Penguins, who lost in 7. The Pens were the only home team to lose game 7 and the only eastern conference home team to lose in the first round. The only prediction I had exactly right was the Capitals and the only western conference prediction I had correct was the Canucks. Of course, I thought they’d win in 5 (or perhaps 4) and they just barely won in 7 games.
Now, it’s time for my second round predictions…
Capitals vs. Lightning
Lightning in 6 – Both teams have had great post season goaltending, but I think Roloson is more likely to be able to sustain that performance. Unlike Washington’s offense, the Lightning offense doesn’t center around one player. Alex Ovechkin is only 10th in the playoffs when going by points per game, so if he really hits his stride in this round it might make the difference for the Caps, but I think the Lightning will still win this one.
Flyers vs. Bruins
Flyers in 6 – Both teams looked shaky in round one, but managed to pull through in game seven. Tim Thomas has not been the number one goalie of the playoffs (or even in the top five) and he was the reason I thought Boston would be unbeatable in the first round. Now that they have to face the Flyers, I can’t see them surviving this round.
Canucks vs. Predators
Predators in 6 – The Canucks just barely managed to win game seven in overtime after allowing Chicago to tie the series at three. Luongo looked better in game seven than he had his previous few games, but I still think he’s shaky and the team seems to look to him a bit too much. When Luongo is shaky, the rest of the Canucks follow suit. Daniel Sedin is the Canucks’ only player in the top 10 for playoff scoring and that’s only because they’ve played 7 games. When you sort by points per game, Daniel Sedin is tied for 16th. Mike Fisher of the Predators is tied at 16th with D. Sedin in points per game and the Predators are known more for their defense and Pekka Rinne’s goaltending. Rinne was not the top notch goaltender of the regular season in the first round, but I think he’ll be more solid in round two of the playoffs.
I also think the Predators want it more. They’ve never made it to round two of the playoffs before, so they’ll be very motivated to advance to their first conference finals.
Sharks vs. Red Wings
Red Wings in 5 – The Sharks did not look very strong in round one and the Red Wings have had a week to rest up for round two. Resting can be bad for teams in the playoffs, but generally benefits the older teams and the Red Wings should be well rested and ready to face the Sharks. San Jose’s number one goaltender (Antti Niemi) has been horrible. He’s ranked near the bottom in goals against average and save percentage. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard is just middle of the pack, but that should be enough to hold off San Jose.
The Sharks looked horrible in the first round of the playoffs (I believe if the Kings had worked a bit harder they would have been able to capitalize on San Jose’s shaky performance and eliminate them from the playoffs). In contrast, the Red Wings were dominant. The Coyotes never knew what hit them as Detroit swept them out of the playoffs in four games. The Red Wings had the only sweep in round one and I can’t imagine the Sharks pulling themselves together enough to eliminate Detroit from the playoffs. I hope the series goes longer, and could see it perhaps going to 6 games, but I think Detroit will continue to dominate and the Sharks will go home.
Enjoy the playoffs!
Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Bruins, Canucks, Capitals, Flyers, Hockey, Jimmy Howard, Lightning, NHL, Pekka Rinne, Penguins, Predators, Red Wings, Sharks
This year was the first time the Kings and Ducks made the playoffs in the same year. Unfortunately for fans of both SoCal teams, the Sharks and Predators knocked out the southern California teams in six games each. Before tonight’s game, I felt pretty strongly that if the Kings weren’t going to win a game in front of their fans and play well in a home game they should have had the decency to lose the series against the Sharks in San Jose. I have to say that after tonight’s performance by the Kings I think it’s good that the Kings gave their fans this game to remember. Their previous playoff games at home in 2011 were horrible performances. The Kings looked terrible in games 3 & 4 once the Sharks pulled Niemi when the Kings started with a 4-0 lead in game three. Tonight, the Kings didn’t win, so clearly their fans didn’t leave happy. However, the Kings played really well and fans were able to leave tonight knowing that their favorite team tried to win the game and closed out the post season playing pretty well.
The performance of the home team at Staples Center in the playoffs so far this year didn’t keep the Kings from selling out Staples Center tonight, but the game was only sold out to the normal capacity (18,118) with no standing room sales. The fans in attendance did see the best home playoff performance the Kings had this year, so it was definitely worth the expense.
Should the Kings have scored on their 5 minute power play? No question. However, the Kings scored two power play goals in the game, which definitely wasn’t common for them. Their power play needs work and it was terrible last year, too. If the Kings don’t think about reorganizing their special teams coaching during the off season, I’ll be pretty stunned. Their penalty kill remained great in the playoffs (perfect on the road and strong at home), but the Kings’ power play was horrible in the regular season and post season.
The Kings had chances to take over this series and beat the Sharks, but didn’t seize their opportunities to succeed. A lot of that is surely due to the mostly young team. They got more playoff experience this year and hopefully that and a reorganization of their power play will help them in 2012. Not capitalizing on the five minute power play is just one time the LA team passed on chances to survive this round of the playoffs. Not scoring on that power play definitely cost the Kings the game, but if they’d scored on many other chances or taken shots on many of their other opportunities, it may not have come down to an overtime situation. Drew Doughty explained that “No one in here wanted to lose today, obviously, and we fully believe we could have won it, that’s why we’re so disappointed.” That’s certainly the most frustrating thing for the Kings’ fans, too. They see the potential of the Kings and wish the team could get to the point where they reach it. Even without Kopitar in the lineup, the Kings matched up well against the Sharks. Maybe that’s a sign that they can really build on what they learned this year and make it farther in the 2012 playoffs. Time will tell… For now, the only California team moving to the next round is the northern California team – the San Jose Sharks.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, fans, Hockey, Kings, NHL, penalty kill, playoffs, potential, power play, sellout, Sharks, special teams, Staples Center
Tonight’s game at the Honda Center in Anaheim was definitely exciting at times. Ducks fans got to see Bobby Ryan score one of the most amazing goals, but at the end of the first period their team was behind, they were tied after two periods, gave up the lead with just 36 seconds to go in the third period (with Shea Weber’s goal), and lose just only 1:57 into the first (and only) overtime period. Clearly, it would have been worse for the home fans if they’d had to wait until double overtime like the Lightning and Rangers fans (who lost to the Penguins and Capitals respectively). I’m sure that’s little comfort to the announced SRO sellout crowd of 17,385 (definitely the most full I’ve seen Honda Center this year). They were surely feeling good about their team with under a minute to go in the third period and then had to see their team collapse before their eyes.
Instead of being proud of a goal that will surely be played even on sports broadcasts that normally ignore the NHL, Bobby Ryan was upset by the heartbreaking loss. When asked about his amazing goal, Ryan explained “he had no stick, so he was a little vulnerable” and how Ryan himself didn’t have a lot of speed, so he tried to cut back as many times as possible and was a little lucky that he got it up over his pad, but “it’s kind of a moot point now.” Bobby also said you don’t have time to sulk at this time of year, since you have to prepare for the next game.
Good news for Ducks fans is that their team has won every other game so far of the post season, so it seems odds are pretty good that their team will be back at Honda Center for game seven Tuesday night. The down side is that the Ducks have been winning the even games and if they continue to only win even numbered games, they’ll lose the series to the Predators in seven games. In order to move on to the next round, the Ducks must win two games in a row. They need to win in Nashville Sunday (3pm Pacific) and then win again at home Tuesday. Like all hockey fans with teams still in the playoffs, all Ducks fans can do is hope and wait to see what will happen to their team.
Tags: Bobby Ryan, Capitals, Ducks, fans, highlights, Hockey, Honda Center, Lightning, NHL, Penguins, playoffs, Predators, Rangers, sellout, Shea Weber
After starting out okay, going down 3-0, and coming back to end the second period 3-2 after using their timeout to their advantage and seeming to turn things around, the Kings appeared to completely give up in the third period tonight at Staples Center in LA against the Sharks. Kings fans are surely still hoping to see their team again on Monday, but most fans I talked to were saying goodbye to their friends around them and their team for the season. They know the odds of the Kings turning things around are pretty slim at this point. They’re down 3-1 in the series and played horribly in their two games at home. Now, San Jose gets to host Saturday night’s game and the odds of them allowing the Kings to win there are slim.
When breaking down tonight’s game, Coach Terry Murray was able to make most of the game sound better than it looked. Positive spin is clearly his job – especially with the media. He pointed out that they killed off a 5 on 3 and “really liked our competition to make it a 3-2 game.” Murray did go on to say, “And then whatever happened in the third with giveaways, turnovers, lost face offs- that’s sometimes a hard thing to explain.” Hard to explain is probably an understatement for the announced standing room only crowd of 18,234 and the Kings fans at home.
Every home crowd deserves to see their team win in person during the playoffs. Unfortunately, it seems like Kings fans might have to wait until 2012 to see the Kings win a playoff game at Staples Center.
Tags: fans, Hockey, Kings, NHL, playoffs, sellout, Sharks, Staples Center, Terry Murray