Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t give up 5 goals in a game often, but when he does it seems to be in surprising situations (like to the NY Islanders early in the season). Lundqvist has two shutouts in his last seven games and hadn’t given up five goals himself since November 24th in Tampa Bay. He faced only one more shot than Dan Ellis and gave up three more goals. I’m sure that’s not what Rangers fans were expecting after the display against the Flyers Sunday. Most Rangers fans are probably wondering what team will show up for the game in San Jose and whether their team will squeak into a playoff spot in the east or drop out of the playoffs, since many teams around them have a couple games in hand against them.
Ducks fans are also dealing with a roller coaster watching their team play lately. The Ducks were shut out against the Canucks (the number one team in the league, but the way they played was more disturbing than the score), but won four of their last five games. The down side, of course, is that before the last five games the Ducks had lost five in a row. Before that, they’d won five in a row, though. The team has been very streaky all season and fans are hoping they can make that a winning streak for long enough that they’ll end up in the playoffs. Their win tonight put the Ducks back in 10th place in the western conference. The playoff battle is definitely going to go down to the wire again this season. The Kings won tonight and the Stars got a point in the standings with an overtime loss.
Lubomir Visnovsky has five goals and two assists in his last three games. He had a hat trick and an assist against Dallas and two goals and an assist against the Rangers. Lubo hitting his stride is something Ducks fans are hoping will help their team squeak into the playoffs this season. They missed the playoffs last season and don’t want their team to be sitting at home after the regular season again.
Tags: Canucks, Dan Ellis, Ducks, fans, Flyers, Henrik Lundqvist, Hockey, Islanders, Kings, Lightning, losing streak, Lubomir Visnovsky, NHL, playoffs, Rangers, standings, Stars, winning streak
Clearly, the Los Angeles Kings couldn’t win all 41 home games this season. Kings fans know they have been spoiled in Staples Center so far this year, but I’m sure none of them were ready for that streak to end against the Columbus Blue Jackets (10th place in the west before today’s games). The Kings were bound to lose at home sooner or later, but the Kings hadn’t lost two games in a row yet this season either and didn’t look good in San Jose or against the Blue Jackets.
The fact that the Kings’ penalty kill is still perfect at home or that Justin Williams extended his career high point streak to 11 games is little consolation to the Kings team getting ready to head on the road for four games before Thanksgiving (including back to back games this Friday and Saturday in Buffalo and Boston).
Though he repeatedly said he couldn’t speak for the other guys on the team, Greene said “I can only speak for myself personally. I think it’s just mental lapses right now. I mean, I’ve been on the ice for five goals against in the last two games – that’s not a good stat if you want to win hockey games.” Clearly, the Kings are no happier than their fans that their home winning streak ended, though Anze Kopitar pointed out that obviously “It’s not a good feeling when you lose – doesn’t matter if it’s on the road or at home.” He also mentioned that they have to get back to their winning ways, which all Kings fans are looking forward to as their team heads to Buffalo to face the Sabres on Friday.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, back-to-back games, Blue Jackets, Hockey, Justin Williams, Kings, Matt Greene, NHL, penalty kill, point streak, Sabres, Staples Center, winning streak
It may be early and Terry Murray may not pay attention to the standings much, but the fans know that their Los Angeles Kings are #1 in the west and #2 in the NHL after their league leading 8th home win in a row to start the season. The Kings are also tied with the Ducks for the longest current NHL winning streak with six games. Their penalty kill is still perfect at home (and their overall pk is also #1 in the NHL). Their top line had points in 4 of their 5 goals including a goal on the first shot of the game and one on a beautiful penalty shot by Dustin Brown. As Kopi said, “it’s nice to see him get one of the nicer goals.” Brown said, “I had a plan at center and I switched about the blue line.” He mentioned that he has three moves that he does and two come off that move to the right. He said he just “pulled a Kopi and slid it five hole.” The penalty shot might not be as rare as it was in the past, but those goals are still special for the players and their fans.
Justin Williams tied his career high point streak of 9 games with his goal against the Islanders. Jonathan Quick has consistently been one of the leading goaltenders in the league (and had a save percentage of almost 95% tonight). The Kings even scored on the power play (not the Kings’ strong suit this season) against the Islanders. What more could LA Kings fans ask of their team? It really doesn’t get much better than this as a fan. It’s good to be the Kings and their fans this season.
A couple years ago, the Kings would have started slow against the last place team in the NHL. They didn’t do that against the last place New York Islanders. Instead, the Kings came out strong and extended the Islanders’ league leading losing streak to ten games.
Southern California is not the place to visit if you’re on any other team in the NHL this season. The SoCal home teams have lost only 2 games this season and gone without a point in a game only once.
Possibly one of the best signs for Kings fans is that it’s getting better all the time. The last few games, the Kings’ top line seems to have clicked. Kopi has 7 points in the last three games, Brown has 5, & Parse has 3. Kopitar scored his 300th career NHL point with his second goal of the game against the Islanders (and the 301st with his assist in the last Kings goal). When asked about what changed for his line, Kopitar said he thought they’d been making good plays without getting any results, “but now we get a few bounces here and there and we score a couple goals and then the confidence gets high and everything seems a lot easier.” That’s really how things have been going for the Kings all season. Many players have talked about how everything seems to go your way when you’re winning. When things are going well for your team, all the bounces seem to go your way. The Kings are continuing to work hard in every game and not phoning it in – ever. The team clearly enjoys being on the top of the standings and having other teams have to come into Staples Center to play up to the Kings’ level of play and not the other way around. Teams coming to LA know they’re going to have a tough time and play harder as a result.
This year’s Kings remind me a lot of the Penguins of 2008, though they have a better record. They were knocked out of the playoffs (many of the players’ first in their NHL career) early last season and they’re clearly determined to do better this season. Before the season started, I said I thought the Kings would be in the conference finals and perhaps even the Stanley Cup Finals. The more I see of this team, the more I believe they’ve got the right mindset and skill set to go deep into the playoffs.
The Kings travel to San Jose to face the Sharks Monday night. That’s always a tough building and the team knows they have to take their A game with them to San Jose. Clearly, the team hopes to continue their winning streak there.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Hockey, Islanders, Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams, Kings, losing streak, NHL, penalty kill, penalty shot, playoffs, power play, Scott Parse, Sharks, Stanley Cup Finals, Staples Center, Terry Murray, winning streak
This season, the Kings have an amazing ability to bounce back after giving up a lead – even against their southern California rival Anaheim Ducks. They’re 22-0-0 when leading after 2 periods. To make things exciting/stressful for their fans (not really… the Kings have never tried to give up a lead), the Kings have given up the lead they took into the third period in quite a few of those 21 games. The Kings don’t seem to know what’s different this season or why they refuse to give up in the third period even if they give up the lead they have going into it, but as Kopitar said, “It’s a good thing.” They may not be able to explain their success this season, but who cares? Their fans are happy and like the team they’ve supported, the Kings fans are having fun!
The Kings tied the club record winning streak of 8 games they had in 91-92 & 72-73 last night (most recently February 18 – March 2, 1991). Jon Quick extended his career high winning streak and broke the longest winning streak in Kings goal tending history (which he’d tied Tuesday). Anze Kopitar tied his career high points in a game (4) and Jack Johnson beat his career high points in a game (also with 4).
Did the Kings win the way they would have preferred? No. But they won. They didn’t give up when the Ducks tied the game after the Kings had a 4-1 lead. Kings fans were on the edge of their seats and certainly concerned once the Ducks made the game 4-3, but the Kings didn’t give up and let the Ducks win (or even get away with a point by getting into overtime). Though no one can explain the difference, it’s clear that the Kings are a different team now than they were last year at this time. Last season, they might have gotten a point in last night’s game or perhaps two by winning in a shootout. This season, the Kings don’t settle for just one point. They want to win. Winning games may be their job, as coach Terry Murray pointed out when asked about the winning streak, but this year the Kings (now in 4th place in the western conference – tied with Phoenix in points, but with more wins) expect to win. Winning streaks are great, but they just care about making sure they’re playing in mid-April this year for the first time in seven years.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, career highs, Coyotes, Ducks, Jack Johnson, Jonathan Quick, Kings, playoffs, Terry Murray, winning streak
If Kings fans missed the game last night against Vancouver, they might have thought they were seeing things when they read that their team lost 2-1 in a shootout. The only difference in the simple box scores was the game in San Jose taking 3 more rounds of the shootout to end the game.
Though he always went on to say that he liked the shootout for the fans and realized that the fans like the shootout and get excited, Terry Murray made it very clear that he hates the shootout. Many of us think it’s a bit ridiculous to decide a game by a team with a skill competition. Yes, penalty shots are exciting and the skills competition of the All Star game is always my favorite part. However, other sports don’t end team games with individual competition, why does the NHL? Could you imagine after 9 innings of baseball deciding the game in a home run competition instead of continuing to play? What about the team that loses in 22 innings getting a point for that in the standings? Didn’t think so. What about the NBA ending in a free throw competition or a game of HORSE? So why give a goaltender who’s played well enough to keep his team in the game and get them through 65 minutes of play a loss (even if it is in the separate overtime loss column)? Okay, enough of my anti-shootout rant.
Naturally, the Kings didn’t look as good in the second night of their back to back games. I still think that teams in back to back games should be facing other teams who played the day before on their second night (which would have worked if the Canucks had played the Ducks on Wednesday instead of playing them Friday). The Canucks will have the disadvantage against the rested Ducks tonight and the Ducks will be at a disadvantage on Saturday when they play in Phoenix. Somehow, it seems it could have been coordinated a bit better.
On the bright side for Kings fans, their team got a point for the shootout loss in both of their last two games and points in their last 6 (4-0-2) games. The Kings had two four game winning streaks in the same month for the first time since… I’m not sure when. I went back to the late 90s and couldn’t find another time when the Kings put together two winning streaks of 4 games or more in the same month. The Kings are at the head of their division and despite many reports to the contrary, when they were tied in points with the Sharks the Kings were in the lead of the division, since they’ve gotten 3 points in their 2 games with the Sharks and the Sharks have only gotten 2. They only had two four game winning streaks in their entire last season (and none longer).
It’ll be very interesting to see the Kings play the Penguins next week. They’ve played the Sharks, but the Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup Champions and (having lost only two games so far) are clearly still at the top of their game. The Penguins haven’t been to LA since November of 2006. For some reason, they tend to come to southern California in November or December (escaping the Pennsylvania weather for a bit?). I’ve seen the Penguins play so often the last couple years in Pittsburgh that I sometimes forget how little most southern California hockey fans have seen of the Penguins. The last time the Penguins were in LA was the season where they made the playoffs for the first time in years. It was Sidney Crosby’s first trip to California in the NHL and Evgeni Malkin’s first year in the NHL. They both had fairly big nights in LA and the Kings lost in overtime (Malkin scored the OT goal). Both teams have changed quite a bit since then. The Penguins have found a coach (Dan Bylsma) who seems to know exactly how to lead a group of young superstars. Bylsma’s record in his 61 games as a coach of the Penguins is 44-13-4 (they’ve won 72% of their games, 83% since his first training camp with the team). The Kings have done well with Terry Murray’s system focusing on defense and seem to have found a goaltender (in Jon Quick) capable of making the saves to give the Kings a chance to win every night. They’ve also added a few key players to help them achieve a higher level of play. Anze Kopitar has definitely stepped up his game this season. It’s early, but Kopi’s on pace to score almost 60 goals this season and has scored 1.5 points per game so far. (He was leading the NHL in points until Alex Ovechkin passed him last night.) Next Thursday’s game should be very interesting and will certainly be the biggest test the Kings have faced so far this season.
Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Anze Kopitar, Canucks, Coyotes, Dan Bylsma, Ducks, Evgeni Malkin, Hockey, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, penalty shots, Penguins, Sharks, shootout, Sidney Crosby, Stanley Cup, Terry Murray, winning streak