If there’s any doubt Los Angeles is a different team since Darryl Sutter replaced Terry Murray as head coach, it was erased when Anze Kopitar spoke on Sunday.
“We’re way more aggressive than we were before,” L.A.’s leading scorer told Kings Insider. “It shows in our game, too.
“With Terry, I used to play about 22 or 23 minutes a night. Sometimes, with Darryl, when I play 19 or 20 I’m probably more tired than I was with Terry. And I’m not saying any bad things about Terry. But we are more aggressive. We’re pursuing the puck a lot more. It’s a more high-intensity game. Not that Terry didn’t stress it, but it’s just at a different level.”
(Uh, Anze? You’re not exactly saying good things about Terry.)
Aggression is hard to quantify — the Moneypuck
nerds enthusiasts have yet to develop a metric — so we have to rely on what players say when it comes to hard work and energy.
That said, Hammond suggests a good indicator of aggression is first-period play. L.A. has shown an improvement in scoring goals in the opening frame, something Kopitar has noticed as well.
“You want to jump on teams and put them on their heels for a little bit,” he said. “In the last couple games, we’ve done that. Last night [vs. Minnesota] we just didn’t start very good, but we bounced right back, which is a good thing.”
L.A. will look to jump on the Oilers tonight when the two square off at Staples, but might have to do it without the services of Jeff Carter. He’s scheduled to get an MRI on his injured ankle today, though Sutter told Hammond the injury is “getting better” and that Carter “was able to put some weight on it.”
By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.
You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.
Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.
Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.
The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.
The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.
Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:
The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.
Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.
The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.
(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)
While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.
Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?
Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.
He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.
(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)
The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.
While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.
With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.
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