Avs need to overcome more than just bad officiating

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MrAnderson.jpgIt’s amazing how the storylines can change during a playoff series.
At the end of game three, after the San Jose Sharks dominated the
Avalanche for three periods only to lose 1-0 in overtime, there was talk
about blowing the team up and a curse that is hanging over the
franchise.

Yet now here we sit, two convincing wins later and
there’s no doubt who the better team in this series is. The Sharks have
taken a 3-2 series lead after a dominant 5-0 victory last night, and now
there’s some consternation building in Denver.

Some of it doesn’t even
have to do with the Avalanche and their effort.

Adrian Dater, beat writer for the Avalanche for the Denver Post,
is not happy, and he has not been pleased all series long with one
particular aspect: the officiating. He
spells it out on his All Things Avs blog:

Debate
the Galiardi call all you want, but let’s examine what happened
toward the end of the second period tonight. Cody McLeod cross-checked
San Jose’s Douglas Murray from behind, and into his own goalie and the
right post of the net. That should have been a penalty, granted. But
here’s what the refs did: they gave NO penalty to McLeod. They DID
give a four-minute minor to Scott Hannan, who, for all I saw, was just
trying to act as a peacemaker, trying to grab someone and calm them
down. Happens all the time in NHL scrums. Meanwhile, San Jose’s Travis
McGinn started to PUNCH Avs rookie Matt Duchene, not just once but a few
times.

Dater notes that the Sharks have had 21 power
plays in the series, while the Avs have had just 10. He also makes sure
to point out that he doesn’t believe there is any conspiracy against
the Avalanche, just a series full of poor officiating. If you’ve been
watching all of the games so far in the playoffs, it’s tough to argue
with that sentiment; the officiating has been inconsistent and downright
bad at times.

This is a tough series for Colorado, who are trying
their best to match up with San Jose without two of their top offensive
forwards in the game. Peter Mueller was acquired via trade to add some
offensive firepower to the Avs and to take pressure off Matt Duchene and
Paul Statsny; with Mueller and Milan Hejduk out, Colorado has struggled
to mount any sort of counterattack to what the Sharks are throwing in
their direction.

Bad officiating or not, Craig Anderson can only
do so much with goal support from his teammates.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.