Three games into the Stanley Cup playoffs, the L.A. Kings were already on the verge of elimination. They’re now on the verge of making it back to the final series for the second time in three years.
That Kings team that won the 2012 Stanley Cup ran through every team like a hot knife through butter, if you’ll excuse the cliche. This year’s edition has taken the last three games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final after a solid 5-2 victory in Game 4 on Monday.
The Kings went seven games against San Jose. They went seven games against Anaheim. But they can polish off the Blackhawks with a win in Chicago on Wednesday, although Chicago’s captain Jonathan Toews believes his team is “still alive in this series.”
The Kings’ surge in these playoffs, including most recently, has suddenly brought up comparisons of this team to the one two years ago.
Helps when Jonathan Quick finds his form. But the Kings feature four players – Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams – at the top of NHL playoff scoring. L.A., in these playoffs, is averaging 3.39 goals per game. They’ve allowed a fourth-best goals-against, at 2.61 goals per game.
“It’s tough because you try not to look back, really. You just focus on the next game. But obviously the one similarity is we’ve been able to win as many games as we have,” said Quick, as per LA Kings Insider.
“We put ourselves in a position where we have an opportunity to win a game to go to the finals. Our team two years ago was able to that. We were able to do that right now. That doesn’t mean anything as far as anythings going to be handed to us. We’ve got a lot to do to be able to earn that win.”
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.
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.
In his first season in San Jose, Martin Jones has provided the Sharks with some steady goaltending.
The 26-year-old has 25-15-3 record with a 2.38 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage in 44 games.
Jones isn’t problem, but the depth behind him could be.
After another ugly performance from backup Alex Stalock against Calgary on Thursday night, The San Jose Mercury News suggests the team could be in the market for another goalie.
Stalock has appeared in just 13 games this season, but with a busy schedule ahead, San Jose will have to rely on someone other than Jones down the stretch.
“My trust level’s good,” DeBoer said of his faith in Stalock. “You can see how important this guy is to the group, how hard they play for him. That’s a situation (on Thursday) where if they didn’t care about him as a teammate, they probably don’t battle back the way they did, so I think that’s a huge testament to what kind of guy this guy is.”
The 28-year-old has a 3-5-2 record with a 2.94 goals-against-average and a .884 save percentage in 2015-16. He’s also given up three goals or more in seven of his 13 appearances.
The Sharks are comfortably in a playoff spot, but the Ducks are just one point behind them for second place in the division.
Whoever finishes in second will get home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have something special in prospect Mitch Marner.
The 18-year-old’s talent was on full-display on Friday night, as he scored this incredible goal for the London Knights of the OHL.
Marner made Blues second rounder Vince Dunn (no. 4) look pretty ridiculous on the play.
The Leafs prospect was one of Canada’s best forwards at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship.
He’s second on the Knights in scoring with 32 goals and 86 points in 41 games.
Earlier this week, Snoop Dogg wore a Marner jersey on stage during his show in London.
Not a bad week for the teenager.