How the Kings prepare for the playoffs

The words “playoffs” and “Los Angeles Kings” haven’t gone together in a1-murray.jpg few years (since 2001-2002 to be exact) so you’ll have to forgive head coach Terry Murray if being asked about how to prepare for the playoffs is a bit new to him as it’s his first time back there since he took the Panthers to the playoffs in 1999-2000.  Yeah, the Panthers.

Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider asked if Murray if going “pedal to the metal” with four games left is the way to play it now that they’ve qualified for the playoffs.

“The last thing you want, as an organization, is someone on the outside, at the end of the day, evaluating the last half a dozen games and saying, `I wish they had played that guy, or started that goaltender, or played harder.’ It just eliminates all doubt on anybody’s part. But the most important part, again, is getting your own team ready, fine-tuning it, pushing to get yourself ready for the playoffs.”

Well chosen words for Murray who, until the Kings hired him to be head coach before last season, had been out of work since being canned by those same Panthers 36 games into the 2000-2001 campaign after the team started 6-18-7-5 that season. Incidentally, remember how much those four number record lines stunk? I need to dust off my old NHL slide rule to figure out what exactly that meant. At least seeing only six wins makes it easy to see that they were pretty bad that year.

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    Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week

    Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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    Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

    From the NHL:

    Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.

    Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.

    Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.

    Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse

    Malkin to miss third straight game with lower-body injury

    Evgeni Malkin
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    Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.

    Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.

    The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.

    Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.

    McDonagh out with concussion after Saturday’s altercation with Simmonds

    Ryan McDonagh
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    The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.

    McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.

    Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.

    Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

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    Lucic’s plan is to ‘remain a King’ for remainder of career

    Milan Lucic, Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis
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    Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

    It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”

    A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.

    “Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

    Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.

    Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.

    Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA