Kings Devils

Kings-Devils Stanley Cup finals matchup: Defense

With the Devils and Kings set to begin the 2012 Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday at the Prudential Center, PHT will spend today and tomorrow breaking down the positional matchups.

New Jersey Devils

Time on ice: Marek Zidlicky (24:08), Bryce Salvador (22:36), Andy Greene (22:29), Mark Fayne (20:39), Anton Volchenkov (15:08), Peter Harrold (14:29).

Overview: Peter DeBoer distributes his minutes fairly evenly through the top four, though Zidlicky and newfound scoring sensation Bryce Salvador saw a slight bump in TOI during the Eastern Conference finals. Adam Larsson is back to being a healthy scratch after a one-game cameo against the Rangers — replaced by Harrold — while 33-year-old veteran Henrik Tallinder has been medically cleared (blood clots) to play. Only problem is he hasn’t seen game action since Jan. 19.

X-Factor: Size. The Devils blueline isn’t big with the likes of Zidlicky (5-foot-11, 188 pounds), Greene (5-11, 190) and Harrold (6-0, 190) and much of the Kings’ puck possession game relies on the big bodies of Dustin Penner (6-4, 242), Dwight King (6-3, 234), Anze Kopitar (6-3, 235) and Jordan Nolan (6-3, 227). As such, don’t be surprised if Volchenkov gets a bump in minutes, if only to deal with clearing the front of Martin Brodeur’s goal.

Los Angeles Kings

Time on ice: Drew Doughty (25:52), Willie Mitchell (25:27), Rob Scuderi (21:11), Slava Voynov (18:48), Matt Greene (16:09), Alec Martinez (14:40).

Overview: Darryl Sutter puts a lot on the plates of Doughty and Mitchell, the latter emerging as a more all-around defenseman this season (scored a career-high five goals, tied a career-high 23 points). The rest of the blueliners fit specific molds — Scuderi and Greene are shutdown/penalty kill guys, Voynov and Martinez are more offensively-inclined puck movers (that man the power play.)

X-Factor: That pesky man advantage. L.A.’s struggles on the PP are well documented and a big reason for that is a lack of production from the blueline — the Kings have just one power play goal from their defense (Mitchell) and four points overall. Considering Doughty is an absolute magician at walking the blueline and Mitchell is very good at getting point shots on goal, the Kings shouldn’t be this bad on the power play.

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

Torres apologizes to Silfverberg and Sharks


A statement from Raffi Torres:

“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”

A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:

“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”

Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.