Marian Gaborik

Can the Kings keep scoring?


The Los Angeles Kings scored an impressive 2.85 goals per game in the 2012 playoffs en route to winning the Stanley Cup, but that’s been dwarfed by their current average of 3.48.

Over the last four years, only two teams have finished their runs with a higher offensive average than that — the 2012 Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, which played in a first round series that was devoid of defense or goaltending.

It’s hard to see the Kings maintaining their current pace, especially when you consider that they ranked 26th offensively (2.42) in the regular season, but then again, this isn’t exactly the same team.

The Kings seem to find their missing link when they acquired Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline. After struggling to get anything going in Columbus, Gaborik has recorded 19 points in the playoffs, including a league-high 12 goals. His presence has pushed Anze Kopitar to another level and gave them the luxury of moving Jeff Carter off the top line.

Carter has instead played regularly with 22-year-old Tyler Toffoli and 21-year-old Tanner Pearson and helped the youngsters shine in the playoffs. Throw in Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, and factor in the possibility that Mike Richards might still step up and it suddenly doesn’t sound so unreasonable to say that the Kings can maintain this level of production.

Unless their success has been based on misleading circumstances. The Kings haven’t faced the best goaltending in the playoffs, from San Jose’s Antti Niemi, who had been inconsistent all season, to the Anaheim Ducks’ messy situation that culminated in 20-year-old rookie goalie John Gibson opposing them, to Chicago’s good, but not elite goaltending from Corey Crawford.

New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist will be by far their biggest test yet. He’s one of the best players of this generation and has allowed more than two goals in just five of his 20 playoff starts. He’ll enter this series with a 2.03 GAA and .928 save percentage.

As good as the Kings’ offense has been, they might have finally met their match.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?