Los Angeles Kings

After Voynov suspension, Lombardi wonders if teams need a ‘cushion’ in case a player is a ‘bank robber, kleptomaniac’

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Almost a month has passed since Slava Voynov was arrested for domestic assault and suspended indefinitely by the NHL, and still the situation, which has been called “dysfunctional” by Kings GM Dean Lombardi, lacks clarity.

Will the Kings get Voynov back this season? Will they ever get him back?

At the very least, will they get some cap relief?

Yesterday, per the O.C. Register, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman struck a somewhat unsympathetic tone when he told reporters in Toronto, ”Every team has to manage its salary cap, right? It’s just the way it works. … The integrity of the game requires teams to comply with the salary cap.”

To which Lombardi responded, rather acerbically, “As this case makes clear, we must now do one and/or two things. We must build in a cushion in case one of our players is a bank robber, kleptomaniac, etc.

“The seemingly better alternative is, we have to do a better job of educating our players and, in particular, monitoring our players away from the rink. While monitoring them away from the rink may have the Orwellian connotation of `Big Brother’ oversight, that is the nature of the sports business in the cap era.”

You’ll forgive Lombardi’s impatience with the situation. The Kings are really missing Voynov’s minutes. On Saturday, Drew Doughty played a season-high 32:21 versus the Ducks, and that’s not something coach Darryl Sutter wants “over the long haul.”

Unfortunately…

“[Voynov’s] legal situation continues to be somewhat uncertain,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said yesterday, per the Canadian Press. “We’re kind of waiting to see if there are developments there, but there’s no certainty there will be before the beginning part of December. We’re kind of playing it day-by-day.”

Get your game notes: Sharks at Sabres

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Buffalo Sabres hosting the San Jose Sharks at 7:30 p.m. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• BUF is looking for back-to-back wins tonight for the first time since a 3-game win streak last Feb. 25-28, after beating TOR, 6- 2, at home on Saturday. The Sabres have the worst record in the NHL this season and had a league-low 21 wins last season, but two of those victories last season and one of their victories this season have come against the Sharks.

• BUF won 2-1 at SJ on Oct. 25 – its first of two regulation wins this season – when C Cody Hodgson and LW Nicolas Deslauriers scored back-to-back goals a little more than two minutes apart in the third period.

• BUF has a 7-game win streak vs. SJ and is 15-1-0 all-time vs. SJ at home. SJ last won at BUF on Dec. 2, 2005.

• BUF has an NHL-worst mark of 1.47 goals/game, but has scored 9 goals in its last two games.

• In their 6-2 win against the Maple Leafs on Saturday, it was the first time the Sabres scored 4 or more goals since their 4-2 win over the Sharks on Feb. 28 last season. Per Elias, the Sabres’ 40-game span with less than 4 goals scored was the third longest streak of its kind in NHL history. Only the Pittsburgh Pirates (45 games) and Chicago Blackhawks (60 games) recorded longer streaks, both of which came during the 1928-29 season.

• SJ has gone 6-8-1 in its last 15 games after starting the season 4-0-1. The Sharks are 3-3-0 on their current 7-game road trip – tied for their longest trip of the season – and will end their road trip tonight. After tonight, they will have played 16 of their first 21 games on the road, the highest percentage (76%) of road games in the first quarter of a season in franchise history. They will also play 7 straight on the road from March 17-29.

• Despite G Alex Stalock (knee) being placed on the injured reserve last Wednesday, SJ has allowed just 3 goals in their last 3 games after giving up an average of 2.8 goals/game through their first 17 games of the season.

• G Troy Grosenick, called up after Stalock’s injury, recorded 45 saves in his first career start on Sunday, as SJ beat CAR 2-0. Grosenick is the first goaltender in Sharks franchise history and 24th ever to record a shutout in his NHL debut and his 45 saves are a franchise record for an NHL debut.

• Grosenick, who led Union College to its first Frozen Four in 2012 (Union College lost in first round), went undrafted and was still a free agent as of April 2013.

• G Antti Niemi, who has a 2.61 GAA this season, started the two games prior to Grosenick and could also start tonight.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

•  33rd regular-season meeting and second of two meetings this season between SJ and BUF.

• BUF won the first meeting 2-1 at SJ on Oct. 25.

• BUF has won the last 7 straight meetings with SJ, outscoring the Sharks 23-3 in those games.

• BUF leads all-time series 21-6-5.

• SJ: C Joe Thornton has 35 points in 46 career games vs. BUF, including 10 points on the power-play.

• SJ: G Antti Niemi has a 0-3-1 record, 3.23 GAA and .882 SV% vs. BUF in 4 career starts.

• BUF: RW Chris Stewart leads the Sabres with 10 points in 20 career games vs. SJ.

• BUF: LW Matt Moulson has 5 points in his last 6 games vs. SJ, including the game-winning goal the last time the teams met in BUF on Feb. 28.

SHARKS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• C Joe Thornton, the first overall draft pick in 1997 by the Bruins, leads the Sharks this season with 18 points (7G-11A) and is riding a 6-game point streak. He had been the Sharks’ captain since the start of the 2010-11 season, but lost his captaincy this summer because SJ was in the process of becoming a “tomorrow team.”

• SJ has 4 alternate captains this season: Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

• D Brent Burns, who opened the season with a 5-game point streak, is second among all NHL defensemen with 17 points and is tied for the second-most points on SJ. Burns returned to his original home on the blue line this season after scoring 22 goals as a forward last season.

• C Joe Pavelski, a member of the last two U.S. Olympic teams, has a team-high 8 goals this season after scoring a career-high 41 goals last season. He’s the other player tied with Burns at 17 points.

• C Logan Couture had 16 points in his first 15 games this season, but he has 0 points in his last 5 games.

• Earlier this season, Couture told the San Jose Mercury News he was disappointed about not being named one of the Sharks’ four alternate captains: “I think it’s human nature to be disappointed. Any player would be in this situation. But you can’t let it affect you, and I won’t. I’m going to come in and do the exact same thing I would if I had a letter or didn’t.”

• G Antti Niemi, who won a Stanley Cup with CHI in his first full NHL season in 2009-10, has started 14 of SJ’s 20 games this season, posting a 7-6-1 record with a 2.61 GAA. But he is 1-4-0 in his last five games.

SABRES TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• C Zemgus Girgensons and C Tyler Ennis are tied for the team lead with 6 goals apiece and both players have 4 points each in the last two games. Girgensons, 20 years old, is the highest-drafted Latvian player in NHL history, having been picked 14th overall by the Sabres in the 2012 draft.

• LW Matt Moulson had 3 points in his last game after having just 5 points through his first 18 games of the season. Moulson signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Sabres over the summer.

• Moulson on his contract with BUF: “I don’t think I’ve ever had a multi-year deal like that. So maybe that’s in the back of your mind trying to live up to that. You just realize you have to go out there and play hockey. I think I found that confidence again.”

• Moulson is married to Alicia Backman, whose sister, Jaclyn, is married to Kings G Jonathan Quick, making the two hockey players brothers-in-law.

• RW Drew Stafford, the longest-tenured Sabre, is tied for the team-lead with 12 points (4G-8A). When Stafford was 21 and starting his career, the Sabres were a Presidents’ Trophy team (2006-07 season). But now, at age 29, he’s in the final year of his contract with a franchise that finished with its worst record in 42 years last season.

• RW Brian Gionta has 3 assists through 19 games, but has yet to score a goal in his first season with BUF – the longest goal drought of his career. Gionta scored 20+ goals seven times in his 12 seasons with MTL/NJ.

• G Michal Neuvirth and G Jhonas Enroth have split time in the net this season. Neuvirth is 3-5-1 in 9 starts and Enroth is 1-8-1 in 10 starts. Neuvirth, who is expected to start tonight, won his first career game as a Sabre on Oct. 25 against the Sharks, making 29 saves in the process.

STANDOUT STATS

]• SJ: C Joe Thornton is 42nd on the all-time career points list with 1,212 – just 4 behind Jeremy Roenick, who is tied with Larry Murphy for 40th with 1,216 points. Thornton and NJ RW Jaromir Jagr are the only two active players to have recorded 1,200 or more points.

• BUF: Allowing an NHL-worst 3.53 goals/game. Third-period woes: BUF has allowed an NHLworst 28 goals in the third period, while SJ has allowed 22, which is 4th worst in the NHL.

NOTABLE INJURIES

•  SJ: Alex Stalock (knee) was placed on injured reserve last Wednesday. There is no timetable in place for his return yet.

• BUF: D Josh Gorges (lower-body) is “weeks away” from returning to the Sabres’ lineup, according to Sabres GM Tim Murray.

Kings’ Bodnarchuk activated from IR, assigned to AHL

The L.A. Kings have activated defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk from injured reserve and assigned him to the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs.

The 26-year-old was injured during training camp in September.

Bodnarchuk has appeared in five career NHL games – all with the Boston Bruins during the 2009-10 season where he picked up two penalty minutes.

Bodnarchuk signed with the Kings as a free agent on July 6, 2012 and has appeared in 142 regular season games with the Monarchs over the past two seasons scoring 13 goals and 52 points.

The Bruins originally selected Bodnarchuk in the fifth-round (128th overall) at the 2006 NHL Draft.

The Kings return to action on Tuesday when they play host to the Florida Panthers.

More minutes for Doughty? Kings’ Martinez (finger) out one week

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After getting struck by a puck and undergoing pinky finger surgery, L.A. defenseman Alec Martinez will miss a week’s worth of action, Kings GM Dean Lombardi said (per LA Kings Insider).

Martinez, hurt during last Thursday’s loss to Dallas, sat out Saturday’s 3-2 OT win over Anaheim — a game in which Drew Doughty played a season-high 32:21, the most logged in a regular season game since drawing 33:25 in a 2-1 overtime loss at Edmonton on January 24, 2013.

It also marked the fifth time in the last six games Doughty’s eclipsed 30 minutes. Last week, Brough wrote about that heavy workload and how it concerned head coach Darryl Sutter.

“He has been playing a lot of minutes,” coach Darryl Sutter said of Doughty. “Do we like that? No. But that’s where we’re at. You know what? I look at that all the time, too. It’s too many minutes. He’s going to tell you he’s fine with it, but over the long haul, that’s too many.”

Martinez will be out for L.A.’s two games this week — tomorrow versus Florida, Thursday versus the ‘Canes — but could be back in action on Saturday against the Stars.

In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see how Sutter utilizes the newly-signed Jamie McBain. McBain hasn’t been used much in his first three games as a King; after getting 11:47 TOI in his first outing against Anaheim, he’s seen his ice time drop to 10:04 (against the Stars) and 8:20 (in Saturday’s win over the Ducks).

In other news pertaining to the Kings’ defense, the NHL has yet to reach a salary cap agreement for suspended blueliner Slava Voynov. His $4.17M hit remains on the books.

Stoll’s OT winner leads Kings past Ducks

Jarret Stoll scored for the first time this season tipping a Justin Williams feed past Frederik Andersen giving the L.A. Kings a 3-2 win Saturday.

It was Stoll’s first goal since April 9.

“I needed that one,” Stoll told the L.A. Times. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to help out and contribute and try to make sure other parts of my game were there. It always feels nice to score a goal and especially to get two points out of it.”

Tyler Toffoli and Anze Kopitar scored in regulation. Jonathan Quick made 27 saves to improve to 8-3-4 on the season.

Defenseman Drew Doughty played a career-high 32:31 in the win.

Emerson Etem and Ryan Kesler scored for the Ducks. Kesler has three goals and an assist in his first two games in the battle between the two Southern California Clubs.

Andersen made 34 saves while seeing his record drop to 7-1-3 on the season.

Anaheim won the first game on Wednesday night 6-5 thanks to Kesler’s shootout winner.

“One’s a shootout game, one’s an overtime game, so it tells you how close they are,” Darryl Sutter said of the first two games between the clubs.

The third game of the season between Anaheim and L.A. goes Jan. 17.