Later tonight on NBCSN: Sharks look to continue Red Wings’ road misery

It’s the final game of a four-game road trip for the Detroit Red Wings, and they couldn’t be happier to see it ending. The San Jose Sharks, however, would like to see them head back home winless after the two square off at the Shark Tank (10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Detroit’s road trip has been a nightmare. From not having stars like Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom already to dropping three in a row to playoff rivals and hopefuls alike in Nashville, Los Angeles, and Anaheim, you couldn’t ask for things to be any worse. While they’ll get Datsyuk back in the lineup tonight, they’ll lose Johan Franzen in the process. Meanwhile, Lidstrom’s prognosis continues to get murkier as he’ll be out at least another week.

The Wings have dropped five of their last six games and are just one point ahead of Nashville for fourth in the Western Conference. With the Blues pulling away in the Central (they lead by seven on Detroit), the Wings’ focus for now should be on making sure they get home ice in the first round.

San Jose, meanwhile, is in the perilous position of just trying to get into the playoffs. The Sharks are one point back of both Phoenix and Colorado for seventh and eighth in the West, but they’re also tied with Los Angeles and Calgary. It’s not the wild, wild, west without a reason after all.

San Jose is starting to get things turned around. They’ve won two of their last three after suffering through a five-game losing streak. Given that it’s the West and everyone seems to make a run at some point, the Sharks are hoping that time is now for them so they can secure a playoff spot.

Now that Martin Havlat is back in action, San Jose is hopeful that he’ll be the key to sparking their slumping offense. After all, since they traded Jamie McGinn to Colorado, things haven’t gone too well. While the offense has been rough, they could stand to use a better effort out of Antti Niemi in goal while they’re at it. Then again, with how Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald have played in goal of late, maybe Niemi won’t need to be a superstar for just this game.

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

4 Comments

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

2 Comments

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
1 Comment

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

16 Comments

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.