Kings top Rangers as playoff battle tightens

23 Comments

The New York Rangers would have certainly liked to beat their 2014 Stanley Cup Final adversary, especially given how badly Los Angeles needed to win tonight. However, the Kings would not allow New York to slow them down as they claimed a 4-2 victory.

Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot made 31 saves and it would be wrong to put this loss squarely on his shoulders. That being said, he did have some questionable moments tonight, including Robyn Regehr’s goal midway through the first period.

A turnover by Talbot also led to Marian Gaborik scoring early in the second period to give the Kings a 2-1 edge. Jeff Carter was credited with the game-winning marker at 1:05 of the third frame.

Los Angeles has kicked off its five-game road trip with back-to-back wins. The Kings are now tied with the idle Calgary Flames in the battle for the third Pacific Division spot with 86 points. Both squads have nine games remaining, but the Flames have the edge in the tiebreaker ROW so if the regular season ended today, Los Angeles would still be eliminated.

The Kings and Flames are scheduled to play against each other on April 9.

Are the Capitals still just a ‘one-line team?’

18 Comments

The Washington Capitals seem to face an all-too-familiar situation.

The good news is that Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are on a tear with Ovechkin leading the league in scoring (73 points) and Backstrom tied for second with 72. Capitals blog Japers Rink’ trots out some interesting new ways to express thoughts like “Yes, Ovechkin’s by far the best player in the NHL when it comes to scoring goals.”

There are great things to be said about Backstrom, too, but Japers’ Rink also provides a familiar “Yeah, but ..” in the fact that, after all these changes, the Capitals may rely on their dynamic duo too much.

Indeed, looking at the Capitals’ top forward scorers, the picture looks remarkably similar to 2013-14, aside from the fact that Ovechkin and Backstrom are producing at a better clip.

2014-15 scoring leaders:

Ovechkin – 73 points
Backstrom – 72 points
John Carlson, a defenseman – 47 points
Marcus Johansson and Mike Green – tied at 39 points

2013-14 scoring leaders:

Ovechkin and Backstrom – tied at 79 points
Joel Ward – 49 points
Johansson – 44 points

Look, in a salary cap league, it’s tough to put a team together that won’t see a drop-off from players at the level of Ovechkin and Backstrom. And yes, it at least helps that they’re enjoying contributions from an improved defense.

Still, when you look at some of the league’s most successful teams, they often enjoy strong depth and obvious one-two punches. When Jonathan Toews’ line was ailing, the Chicago Blackhawks could count on Patrick Kane to make magic happen (before he got injured, of course). The Los Angeles Kings saw Jeff Carter light up scoreboards alongside Anze Kopitar’s line.

The way Ovechkin and Backstrom’s playing, it seems like their line can create a goal or two per night. That said, if they make it to the playoffs and a team finds a way to slow them down, will Washington get the offense it needs from other forwards?

Video: Brown crushes Perry with massive open-ice hit, melee ensues

35 Comments

Dustin Brown reintroduced himself to Corey Perry during the first period of Wednesday’s game between the L.A. Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

No stranger to throwing massive hits, the Kings’ captain Brown drilled Perry with a crushing open-ice body check that appeared to be perfectly clean but set off a melee near the two benches in the neutral zone. Clayton Stoner and Simon Despres, coming to the defense of Perry, both jumped in grabbed Brown.

When the dust settled, the Kings ended up with the power play. Jeff Carter scored a few seconds later to give L.A. the lead in what was a hard-hitting, face-paced first period.

Sutter wants more from the ‘guys who haven’t scored in 10 or 11 or 12 or 13 or 14 or 15 games, whatever it is’

7 Comments

The Los Angeles Kings have tweaked their lines ahead of tonight’s contest versus the Coyotes, with hopes of getting some goals from a few more of their forwards.

“We’ve got guys who haven’t scored in 10 or 11 or 12 or 13 or 14 or 15 games, whatever it is, and some of them have had zero scoring opportunities for the last five as individuals,” coach Darryl Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider.

Sutter didn’t name names, but winger Dustin Brown has gone without a goal in his last 11 games, while winger Dwight King has gone goalless in 13.

This morning, Brown was skating on the first line with Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar, while King was on the third line with Nick Shore and Justin Williams. The second line had Trevor Lewis, Jeff Carter, and Tyler Toffoli, with Kyle Clifford, Andy Andreoff, and Jordan Nolan comprising the fourth.

Related: Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do

Preds top Kings, set stage for West showdown with Ducks

6 Comments

The Nashville Predators have been struggling lately, yet after beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1, they’re now back on top of the Central Division and Western Conference. Sunday’s game will determine if Nashville even makes it out of the weekend with that conference lead, however.

Jeff Carter scored the game’s first goal in the first period. The Predators weren’t able to find the net until the final frame, yet they beat Jonathan Quick in rapid succession, scoring two goals in less than a minute and a half to win 2-1.

After a troubling six-game losing streak (not to mention dropping eight of 10), the Predators have now won two of the first three games on their four-game road trip, which ends tomorrow against the Ducks in Anaheim.

Pekka Rinne was sharp in the game, which happened to represent his 200th career win.

That now stands as a clear match to temporarily hold the top spot in the West.

Technically, Nashville has the No. 1 spot in the West, as both teams have identical 43-20-7 records but the Preds have two more regulation/overtime wins. It won’t really matter tomorrow, though, as the victor will at least briefly stand alone in the West.

To some, that top spot may just be a curse in disguise … at least if the Kings grab the final wild card spot.

A lot can change in that regard, especially since this loss leaves Los Angeles outside of the two wild card spots. It’s probably easiest just to take an updated look at the West race, via NHL.com’s standings:

source:

The Colorado Avalanche beat the Calgary Flames in regulation while the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets held serve with wins to keep the playoff picture more or less in place. The basic takeaway is that it could be a very competitive battle for those final spots, not to mention seeding with the heavyweight teams.