Chicago has ‘six guys going for a couple spots,’ says GM Bowman

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The reigning Stanley Cup champions are returning a majority of the team that won it all in June.

That means roster spots for the 2013-14 season are sparse — just ask GM Stan Bowman.

“We’ve got probably six guys going for a couple spots, and may the best men get it,” Bowman told the Chicago Daily Herald. “We have a pretty consistent roster from last year, although there are some spots at forward that are open.”

A quick recap of who came and left Chicago this offseason…

INS: Nikolai Khabibulin, Mike Kostka, Theo Peckham, Brad Winchester

OUTS: Ray Emery, David Bolland, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg, Dan Carcillo

The ‘Hawks also re-upped with Niklas Hjalmarsson, Corey Crawford, Marcus Kruger, Michal Rozsival, Michal Handzus and Nick Leddy, ensuring a large core of role players from last year’s squad remained in place.

So…who’s in line for a job at forward?

Kyle Beach, the 11th overall pick in 2008, could finally be ready to make the leap. The 23-year-old power forward scored 16 goals with AHL Rockford last year (leading the team with 204 PIM) and could replace some of the sandpaper lost in the Bolland/Carcillo departures.

Another leading candidate for a job is 21-year-old Brandon Pirri, the club’s second-round pick at the ’09 Draft. Pirri led AHL Rockford in scoring last season (75 points in 76 games) and has seven games of NHL experience under his belt.

Speaking of NHL experience, the likes of Jimmy Hayes (41 gmaes), Ben Smith (20) and Jeremy Morin (15) should also make a push for a job.

On defense, there are fewer opportunities available. Hjalmarsson, Leddy, Rozsival, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya are entrenched as the top six.

Kostka, Peckham and Sheldon Brookbank have the most NHL experience in terms of depth guys, but one to keep an eye on is 20-year-old Adam Clendening, the club’s second-round pick from 2011.

He led all Rockford d-men in scoring last year, with 46 points.

 

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

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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

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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
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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

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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.