NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 02: Willie Mitchell #33 of the Los Angeles Kings handles the puck against Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the New Jersey Devils during Game Two of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center on June 2, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Willie Mitchell knows opportunities to win Cup are rare

The Los Angeles Kings need just two more wins to capture the Stanley Cup. Most of their core players are in their early-to-mid 20s with a lot of hockey ahead of them. They can appreciate just how special this moment is, but 35-year-old Willie Mitchell knows first-hand how rare it is.

“I can just talk about how much I’m enjoying it at (age) 35,” Mitchell said. “There’s guys in here who have won Stanley Cups … and they can give me perspective on it. There’s a lot of guys that are highly motivated.

“All of us have different stories, all of us have different reasons, but the one thing that motivates us all is the same thing, right?”

Mitchell was originally drafted by his current opponent, the New Jersey Devils. He was even an extra player when they won the Stanley Cup in 2000, but he was only an observer in their postseason run.

That’s not the case this time. He’s second only to Drew Doughty in terms of total ice time for the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs. He doesn’t capture many headlines, but he’s been a big part of their stunning 2011-12 campaign.

After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
1 Comment

Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.