The Los Angeles Kings are currently 2nd place in the Western Conference (to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks) and tied for third in the NHL. Their number one goalie (Jonathan Quick) has been looking like one and is ranked 4th in save percentage and 3rd in goals against average in the league. Their 4-1-0 start matches their best 5-game start in team history.
Somehow, The Kings’ power play is closer to the bottom than the top of the NHL, though. Their power play is just barely above the Montreal Canadiens for next to last in the NHL. Team scoring is only 19th place out of the 30 NHL teams, so the overall scoring could use a bit of improvement.
Why are the Kings at the bottom of the league in the power play and in the bottom half of the league for goals per game? Last year, the Kings’ power play was 7th in the league. This year they’re clinging to 29th out of 30 teams.
The Kings’ second line has been doing most of their scoring (and Terry Murray has even said at times that the second line has looked like his top line), though perhaps Anze Kopitar’s first goal of the season last night against the Carolina Hurricanes will help his line turn around their low scoring start of the season. Imagine how good this LA team will be if they can get their power play and top line scoring in gear.
I’ve heard a few theories on what’s wrong with the Kings’ power play, but the main theory concentrates on one player and I think pinpointing one player when there are two power play units and both of those power play units are performing horribly doesn’t cover the problem with the power play performance. I’d say it has more to do with a coaching issue, since a single player could only affect their own power play unit. I’m not saying that the Kings’ power play units have the players I’d select if I were creating power play units from the Kings’ roster, but the Kings have been working on their power play a lot in practice and it doesn’t seem to be helping. The Hurricanes have a pretty bad penalty kill, but even that (and their backup goalie in net) wasn’t enough to help the Kings score on the power play. As long as the Kings keep winning, it’s hard to be concerned about the power play, but if they could fix their power play problem winning games should become easier for the Kings and take some of the pressure off of their defense and goalies.
The Kings play so well together without the power play that it’s odd to see how much they struggle as soon as you give them the man advantage. It’s almost like it would be better if the team could decline the penalty like you can in football. If the Kings start scoring on the power play, they’ll be an even more formidable team. Look out western conference teams…
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Blackhawks, Canadiens, Hockey, Hurricanes, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, power play, Stanley Cup, Terry Murray
I’m sure many will think my picking the Penguins to beat the Red Wings in 6 indicates that I’m biased by the fact that I’ve been a Penguins fan as long as I’ve been a fan of hockey (probably even longer, initially I was just a Penguins fan and I grew to love the game because of them). I maintain that I would pick the team that lost in this situation all the time (regardless of the team) even if they hadn’t been playing very well in the previous rounds of the playoffs. I think the team that lost the year before has a lot more motivation to win the Cup this year. The only member of the Red Wings who wants the Cup as badly as most of the Penguins do right now is Marian Hossa. Hossa and his comments might actually be extra motivation to the Penguins, but I won’t get into that whole mess.
When examining how the Penguins and Red Wings have played in the playoffs this year, I think it’s clear that the Penguins are more driven. They want the Cup and they’re determined to get there. They have the top two scorers in the playoffs (Crosby & Malkin are tied with 28 points, 1.65 per game). Their defense has been far from perfect, but the same can be said of the Penguins in the 90s when they won their last two Cups. They’re more likely to win 7-5 than they are 1-0, but as long as they win does it really matter?
Watching the Pens play the Hurricanes, it was clear that they are focused on their goal of winning the Stanley Cup. Losing it last year hurt and they don’t want to go through that again. They’re determined to win this year. The Penguins know what it takes. They’re not the same kids who lost to Detroit in the finals last year. They’re not going to be stunned when they go into Detroit and see the sea of red in the stands and the amazing fan support the Red Wings have. This year, the Pens started two of their first three rounds of the playoffs on the road, so they’re used to starting in enemy territory and they know they can win in spite of not starting in front of their home crowd.
I really would pick any team who fought back to make it to the finals after losing the finals the year before. I think that team has to be more excited about winning the Cup than any team they would face. Historically, the team that makes it back to the finals is more likely to lose than win. However, as with all things, history doesn’t change the odds. It’s just like playing roulette. The odds of hitting any number are always exactly the same. They don’t change based on the pattern preceding it. The Penguins have the same odds of winning the finals this year as they would if they hadn’t been in the finals last year; though, I think they are more driven because of losing, which gives them a bit more of an edge. I don’t think it will be an easy battle, but I definitely think the Pens will persevere and beat the Red Wings this year to become the 2009 Stanley Cup Champions.
Tags: Evgeni Malkin, Hockey, Hurricanes, Marian Hossa, NHL, Penguins, Red Wings, Sidney Crosby, Stanley Cup Finals
After the tight series the Penguins and Capitals had (only one game decided by more than one goal, a 5-3 win by the Penguins in game 4), 3 of their first 6 games of the series went into overtime, one of their games had Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin’s first playoff hat tricks… This was the series to watch in the 2009 NHL playoffs, so game 7 should be an amazing contest that keeps me on the edge of my seat and makes me a nervous wreck (since I’m a Penguins fan), right? Wrong.
The Penguins had a 2-0 lead by the end of the first period. Not even close to a huge lead with Washington’s fire power. Just 28 seconds into the 2nd period, Guerin increased the Pens’ lead to 3. Less than 2 minutes later, Letang scored Pittsburgh’s 4th goal. By this point, Penguins fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. In spite of the hell the Penguins put their fans through earlier in the series with the Capitals; they decided to win decisively in game 7. The final score was 6-2 and Guerin (who many seemed to think the Pens shouldn’t have picked up) had the game winning goal.
Sidney Crosby had 2 power play goals in the game as he started and ended the Penguins’ scoring. The last Penguins goal of the game was a great goal Sid scored on a breakaway. This is why Sidney Crosby is so much fun to watch and why fans of other teams enjoy watching players like him. The NHL would have wanted a closer game, but they couldn’t have asked for a much closer series.
One game 7 down, 2 to go. Tomorrow there are two game 7s being played in the NHL and unless they have Center Ice or live in the Carolina or Boston areas, you can only see the Ducks/Red Wings game and the end (assuming the Ducks/Red Wings game doesn’t last too long) Hurricanes/Bruins game. It’s really a shame, since game 7s really are the highlight of the playoffs and in spite of ¾ of the current round having 7 games, they’re not that common. Hopefully, tomorrow night’s games will be more interesting, though I’m sure the fans of the Hurricanes, Bruins, Ducks, and Red Wings will disagree with me a bit on that one.
Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Bill Guerin, Bruins, Capitals, Ducks, fans, game 7, Hockey, Hurricanes, Kris Letang, NHL, Penguins, playoffs, Red Wings, Sidney Crosby
I haven’t heard anyone predicting that the Hurricanes win the series with the Bruins yet. I’m sure there are some. Finding people who thought the Ducks were going to beat the Sharks was almost impossible and I talked to members of the media and fans in Anaheim. Since I haven’t been to Carolina in years, I’m sure I could find some people there who truly thought the Hurricanes would win the series against the Bruins before this round of the playoffs started. If most people had been told that the Hurricanes would be up 2-1 in a series with the Bruins, they probably would have believed it about as much as most people would have if you told them the Ducks would have been leading the series with the Sharks 2-0 to start.
Two overtime games in one day again and the Penguins and the Hurricanes were a part of the madness this round, too. Thankfully, my DVR from hell (made by Motorola and supplied by the horrible Orange County Cox Cable company) worked and I got to see both games today (the Devils/Hurricanes game recorded, but the DVR couldn’t play it – so sad!). It’s interesting to me that both times there were two OT games in the playoffs this year on the same day they involved the only two teams who were in both rounds of the playoffs. Incidentally, the team who won the OT game in question won the series and went on to the next round of the playoffs. Wonder if that’ll happen this time, too.
As a Penguins fan, the Penguins game drove me nuts. The Capitals’ late tying goal and all the chances and the way the Pens were skating initially and… I could go on forever about the gut-wrenching experience I know most Penguins fans went through tonight. I think we can all agree that the comeback the Red Sox made against the Yankees a few years ago is too rare to hope for it and that if the Penguins had lost tonight at home it would have been the end of their 2009 playoff run. Fortunately for Pens fans everywhere, Pittsburgh won game 3 and the Penguins are now only behind 2-1 in the series to the Capitals.
Apparently, the Penguins want to play in the first back-to-back games of the 2009 playoffs. Personally, I think back-to-back games should never happen in the playoffs. I realize that arenas have schedules to work around, but think they should figure something out to avoid back-to-back games. On the bright side, of course, both teams have exactly the same recover time. On the down side, this is the playoffs. To me playoff hockey means teams at their best and the Penguins and Capitals will not be at their best when they played the day before. As another point, this is the playoffs – I know, it seems like the same point as my first, but bear with me. Since this is the playoffs, game 4 of the Pens/Caps series in Pittsburgh Friday could last until sometime Saturday morning. I know the players’ contracts have rules about game turnaround time; I’m guessing these restrictions are waived for the playoffs. However, think about how horrible and boring the Pens/Caps game could be on Saturday if the game Friday goes into triple overtime (or longer). Don’t the fans deserve more during the playoffs – especially for a weekend game? I think they do. Too bad Gary Bettman disagrees with me.
Tags: back-to-back games, Bruins, Capitals, Cox Cable, Ducks, DVR, fans, Gary Bettman, Hockey, Hurricanes, Motorola, NHL, overtime, Penguins, playoffs, Red Sox, Sharks, Yankees
Ever since the NHL announced that there would be an entire HD channel dedicated to HD games and that at least 7 games would be televised in HD each week, I was excited. I love days like today when there are two games on the HD channel. It’s great to see how other teams’ stations televise their HD games. It’s been particularly interesting and appealing this season, since the Kings and Ducks (the only teams televised in the LA/Orange County area’s sports channels) both chose to start off the season with the very poorly received rinkside view and are not televising any games that are not home games (which I normally attend for both teams) in HD.
Tonight I had the added bonus of the first HD game being the Penguins/Hurricanes game. Seeing your team play in HD is always better, but when they win it’s hard to beat. Crosby (4 assists) and Sabourin (94.4% save percentage) both played great games. In spite of the score, Carolina played pretty well. They outshot the Penguins 36 to 22. What really killed them were their special teams. The Penguins scored on 2 of their 3 power plays, while Carolina only scored on 1 of their 5 chances.
Nabokov just made a great save in the Sharks/Blue Jackets game. Since I’m caught up to live and I hate watching commercials, I’ll have to watch something else then get back to the game. There were definitely a few other games that were closer than the Penguins/Hurricanes game, but so far it looks like they made great choices when they chose tonight’s two games for the Center Ice HD channel.
Tags: Blue Jackets, Center Ice, Dany Sabourin, Evgeni Nabokov, HD, Hockey, Hurricanes, NHL, Penguins, power play, rinkside view, Sharks, Sidney Crosby