Los Angeles Kings

Goalie nods: Sharks to start Niemi, looking to hire emergency backup


All the latest from the blue paint…

San Jose needs a No. 2

The San Jose Sharks are in a dilly of a pickle (insert Marc-Edouard Vlasic joke here) — they don’t have a backup for Antti Niemi tonight against Calgary.

The current No. 2, Troy Grosenick, was injured during today’s skate and the guy Grosenick replaced on the active roster, Alex Stalock, is out with an injury of his own. That’s left San Jose scrambling for an emergency ‘tender in time for the 10 p.m. ET puck drop… so if you’re in the Bay Area and ever had aspirations of dressing for a NHL game, well, it’s your move.

Oh yeah, Karri Ramo will get the start in goal for Calgary.


Jets at Sabres: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Jhonas Enroth

Caps at Isles: Braden Holtby vs. Jaroslav Halak

Flyers at Wings: Steve Mason vs. Jimmy Howard

Rangers at Bolts: Henrik Lundqvist for New York, Ben Bishop likely for Tampa Bay.

‘Canes at Panthers: Cam Ward vs. Roberto Luongo

Leafs at Pens: Jonathan Bernier vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Kings at Wild: Jonathan Quick likely for L.A., Darcy Kuemper likely for Minnesota.

‘Hawks at Avs: Corey Crawford vs. Calvin Pickard

Are the Jets and Coyotes being too loyal to their starting goalies?


Loyalty is important in both sports and life. Still, there are times when you have to wonder if it can go too far.

The Arizona Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets should be asking themselves that question when it comes to how much they’re playing their starting goalies versus their backups. Sometimes, a guy’s resume and paycheck can only go so far, especially on teams that don’t have the luxury to suffer through prolonged slumps.

The situations are a little different in that Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec hasn’t been disastrous while Coyotes No. 1 Mike Smith kind of has been, but just take a look at their numbers versus the work of their second bananas:

Mike Smith (pictured): 4-11-2, .893 save percentage, 3.26 GAA, zero shutouts. He hasn’t won since Nov. 7 and only has two wins since Oct. 28.

Devan Dubnyk: 5-0-1, .926 save percentage, 2.34 GAA and one shutout. Only has four appearances in November.


Ondrej Pavelec: 7-8-2, .917 save percentage, 2.29 GAA, one shutout. Is currently on a four-game losing streak and hasn’t won in five appearances.

Michael Hutchinson: 4-1-1, .947 save percentage, 1.50 GAA, one shutout. Just eight goals allowed so far this season. Waited a week between his most recent and second-most recent starts. Played about two periods worth of hockey in October.


A lot of things can factor into a backup putting up better numbers than a No. 1 guy.

Sometimes a backup gets nothing but lesser competition to chew up. Many netminders are a little tougher to deal with when there’s less known about them (this could help Hutchinson). Furthering that last point, small sample sizes can mislead.

Still, when the results are this lopsided, shouldn’t teams like the Coyotes and Jets decide to put their urges to play their far more highly paid netminders aside for potential short-term gains? Rolling with a hot backup doesn’t necessarily condemn the starter, either; the Los Angeles Kings dealt with injuries and inconsistency from Jonathan Quick only to see him turn things around during the playoffs in recent seasons, as just one example.

(Quick’s been putting together a stellar regular season so far, too.)

Staying the course seems noble, but sometimes you need to take chances to improve. Neither franchise wants to miss the playoffs once again, yet it’s particularly unpleasant to imagine them doing it from self-inflicted wounds.

Video: Hanzal with an elbow to the head of Erik Johnson


Martin Hanzal caught Avs’ defenseman Erik Johnson with an elbow to the head early in overtime Tuesday night.

Johnson was reaching on the play and Hanzal connected with the Avs’ blue liner in vulnerable position.

There was no penalty on the play.

Johnson left the game and did not return.

Hanzal could be hearing from NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety, Stephane Quintal, as he has quite the rap sheet.

Last season alone Hanzal was fined for a high stick on then Canucks forward David Booth. He was also suspended two games for a charging penalty he received for a hit on Jeff Petry.

During the 2012 playoffs Hanzal was suspended one game for a hit on the Kings’ Dustin Brown.

Report: Kings receiving interest in Nolan


The L.A. Kings may not be in a hurry to spend the cap relief received from Slava Voynov; however, they have reportedly been receiving calls on the availability of Jordan Nolan.

According to hockey insider Bob McKenzie, a number of Eastern Conference teams have called Kings GM Dean Lombardi to inquire about the availability of Nolan.

Nolan, 25, has appeared in just 13 games for the Kings this season. He missed two games due to a suspension, but has been a healthy scratch in five games, including the last three, entering Tuesday night’s action against the Nashville Predators.

He has a minus-2 rating and four penalty minutes while averaging 9:17 in ice time this season.

McKenzie reports the Kings aren’t in a hurry to deal Nolan, but should the right defenseman be offered, Lombardi may listen.

The Kings aren’t just ‘going to go out and blow’ their Voynov cap space


Just because the NHL decided to grant the Los Angeles Kings salary-cap relief for suspended defenseman Slava Voynov doesn’t mean the Kings are going to use that financial flexibility right away.

“I think we’re OK right now in terms of numbers,” GM Dean Lombardi told the L.A. Times. “The other thing, it’s not just we’re going to go out and blow the cap space to blow it. It still has to be the right guy. … Let’s get real. Finding top-four defensemen, they’re not available. Because a lot of times to be able to do that you’d better have a guy to replace him because top-four guys are so important to each other’s teams.”

The Kings’ active roster, as of today, includes seven d-men: Drew Doughty (who’s been playing a ton), Alec Martinez (out with a finger injury), Jake Muzzin, Robyn Regehr, Matt Greene, Brayden McNabb, and Jamie McBain.

When Voynov was suspended, he was averaging 23:11 of ice time.

Related: Need a d-man? Here are five potential trade targets