LA Kings Third Line

Redemption for L.A.’s third line, once called “the worst” in hockey

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Interesting anecdote here from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail:

In March, just as the Los Angeles Kings were about to mount the 11th-hour surge that got them into the playoffs, a veteran NHL scout sitting beside me in a press box predicted – apropos of nothing – that they had little chance in the postseason because of one key, but easy-to-overlook factor.

“They have the worst third line in hockey,” he said.

At the time, the line consisted of Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis.

And it makes sense why the scout said what he did. Stoll was an offensive enigma that struggled to his poorest output since his rookie year in 2003-04.

Lewis is a hard worker and bonafide grinder, but thought to be best suited to a fourth-line role.

Penner’s season was noteworthy because he injured himself eating pancakes and saw his divorce go viral (thanks, TMZ!) — he also earned the unique distinction of landing in two separate doghouses: Terry Murray’s and Darryl Sutter’s.

But that was in March. It’s now May, and what a difference a couple of months makes.

Penner has been moved off the line in place of Dwight King, the playoff scoring sensation tied for second on the team in goals (five). Stoll’s scoring hasn’t gone through the roof, but the timing of said scoring has been key — both his postseason goals were game-winners, including the series-clinching OT tally against Vancouver in Round 1.

And Lewis? He’s been a very pleasant surprise, registering six points in 13 games — a pretty wild development when you consider he had seven points in 72 regular season contests.

The highest praise for L.A.’s third line, though, comes from Coyotes captain Shane Doan.

“That King/Stoll/Lewis line has arguably been the best line of the series,” Doan told The Globe. “The level is so intense. There’s so little room, you have to have other guys step up. We need other guys to step up.

“Obviously, it would be big to get some scoring from everybody.”

No kidding. Just ask the Kings.

Video: Blandisi scores great between-the-legs goal vs. Flyers

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What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.

The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.

It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.

Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.

He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).

That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.

Some Twitter reaction to the goal:

Bruins’ Bergeron ruled out for Saturday’s game against Wild

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The Boston Bruins will be without center Patrice Bergeron in Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Minnesota Wild.

It’s unclear how Bergeron suffered the undisclosed injury, but there’s reason to believe it occurred after he dropped the gloves with Jets forward Blake Wheeler (above).

He’s considered day-to-day at this point.

Losing him for an extended period of time would be devastating for Boston.

“You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after the game, as per the Boston Herald.

“From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

After this incident, there’s no doubt that the Bruins will tell Bergeron to keep his gloves on from now on.

Jets will take one more crack at re-signing Andrew Ladd

Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) and Blake Wheeler (26) celebrate Ladd's goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
Associated Press
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Jets captain Andrew Ladd still doesn’t have a contract for next season and with the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaching, something’s gonna have to give.

According to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Winnipeg Jets will make one last push to sign the forward before making him available on the trade market.

Ladd doesn’t want to leave and the team wants to keep him, but after Dustin Byfgulien got an extension earlier this month, there may not be enough money to go around.

At one point, the Jets reportedly made Ladd a six-year offer worth $6 million per year, which he obviously didn’t accept.

Can they top that? Time will tell.

Waiting to trade Ladd is probably the smartest decision.

Keeping the captain around would be great, but if the two sides can’t agree to a new contract, there’ll be no shortage of suitors for Ladd’s services.

Lawless mentions the Penguins, Panthers and Blackhawks as potential landing spots for the 30-year-old.

The Kings have also been mentioned as a potential destination for Ladd.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to make some crucial decisions over the next few weeks.

Flyers’ Neuvirth (lower body) will be between the pipes vs. the Devils on Saturday

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth (30) of the Czech Republic stops a shot from the Dallas Stars in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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Michal Neuvirth will make his first start of the month in Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

The 27-year-old missed five games with a lower-body injury. He was activated off the injured list earlier this week and served as Steve Mason‘s backup in Thursday’s game against Buffalo.

Neuvirth has an 11-6-2 record with a 2.14 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage in 2015-16.

He’s put up some solid numbers against the Devils in his career. Neuvirth has a 5-2-4 record with 2.03 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage in games against New Jersey.

Steve Mason, who’s coming off a 41-save performance in a win over Buffalo, hasn’t been as good against Saturday’s opponent.

Mason is 0-7-0 lifetime against the Devils.

Puck drop is at 1:00 p.m. ET.