Brown leads Kings to first road win


Kings’ captain Dustin Brown scored his second of the season, on his 30th birthday, leading L.A. to a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars Tuesday night.

Trevor Lewis, who returned from an upper body injury, and Kyle Clifford had the others for the Kings. The win was the Kings’ first victory away from the Staples Center this season. L.A. is now 1-3-2 on the road.

“He’s gonna work. I talked to him last night about getting him back into the penalty killing a little bit, because that’s what his role is on our team,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of Lewis. “We switched Jarret (Stoll) and Mike (Richards) partway through the first period and put Mike with Kinger (Dwight King) and Brownie, and that helped us a little bit.”

“I think, and putting Jarret with Lewie and Cliffy helped us a little bit. Got to find ways to score when you’re not scoring. I mean, still the top end of your lineup’s got to score goals. Five-on-three, you’ve got to score a goal, and Gabby (Marian Gaborik) had some really good looks. If he’s sharper, he probably scores on a couple of them. It’s the way it goes.”

Shawn Horcoff had the lone goal for the Stars in the loss. Kari Lehtonen made 27 saves while seeing his record drop to 4-2-4 on the season.

Jonathan Quick improved to 6-3-2 with a 33 save performance.

There was a scary moment in the third period when Justin Williams received a high-stick from Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon.

Dillon received a double-minor for high-sticking while Williams left the game immediately.

Sutter said Williams should be OK.

“Lucky it wasn’t his eye…be careful, just see how it goes,” he said.

Martinez won’t comment on reports he’d like to re-sign with Kings


Defenseman Alec Martinez and Los Angeles Kings haven’t reached a compromise in their contract negotiations yet, but the pending unrestricted free agent wants to stay with the team, according to He didn’t want to get into a discussion about his contract situation though when asked about it.

“It’s the reason why you have an agent,” Martinez said, per LA Kings Insider.

When asked if playing for the Kings was ideal for a hockey player though, he was willing to offer a detailed response.

“I think that the biggest thing is the group of guys. At the end of the day we’ve got a really good group of guys in here,” Martinez said. “Obviously L.A.’s the only thing that I know being drafted here, but talking to guys that have played in other places, they say that we’ve got something special here, and I’m a believer in that.

“There are probably not many teams [where] you get all the guys hanging out together at once. I think maybe the South Bay has a little bit of something to do with that and the fact that everyone’s just geographically really close to each other, just a bike ride away. But it’s also a testament to what management has done in bringing in good guys and good players and guys who get along. Obviously it’s a great group to be a part of.”

Ultimately, whether or not Martinez re-signs could come down to Los Angeles’ cap situation. The Kings have a little more than $56 million in cap space committed to just 13 players in 2015-16, per Cap Geek. That’s not including pending unrestricted free agents Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll, or Robyn Regehr. They also have several noteworthy players scheduled to test the restricted free agent waters, including early season standouts Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli.

The Kings reportedly want Martinez to agree to an average salary below the $4 million annually defenseman Jake Muzzin recently agreed to, but Martinez’s camp believes he would command at least $4 million as a free agent. Whether or not he’s willing to give the Kings a hometown discount remains to be seen.

Kopitar out, Lombardi irate as Kings will play shorthanded vs. Flyers


The first ramification of Slava Voynov’s suspended-indefinitely-but-still-on-the-books situation has come about, as the Kings will play with less than a full compliment of players tonight in Philadelphia.

Anze Kopitar is out with an upper-body injury and because the club is operating so close to the salary cap ceiling, it is unable to get a replacement forward in the lineup.

More, from the L.A. Times:

Per LA Kings Insider, the Kings have been in “ongoing conversations” with both the NHL and PA regarding potential cap relief for Voynov, who is still on the books at $4.16M — despite the fact he’s not available to play while under investigation for allegations of domestic assault.

As a result, the Kings will have 11 forwards tonight: Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Dwight King, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford, Jarret Stoll, Justin Williams, Andrey Andreoff and Jordan Nolan.

Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Trevor Lewis (both of whom are on IR) are out.

Risk Factors: Los Angeles Kings edition


From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you “Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. three reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Los Angeles Kings

1. They’ve played a ton of hockey recently. The Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, went to the Western Conference Final in ’13 and won it all again last year. That made for some long springs and short summers, which didn’t leave much for the requisite rest and recuperation needed to embark on yet another 82-game regular season.

It’s fair to say all that hockey took its toll. Jonathan Quick spent the offseason and a good chunk of the preseason rehabbing his surgically-repaired wrist, which came after a ’13-14 campaign in which he missed two months with a groin injury. (Quick also underwent back surgery following L.A.’s first Cup win.)

NHL on NBC analyst Pierre McGuire referenced Quick’s health during a preseason conference call:

“I think another compounding thing is you just don’t know the health of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (who had wrist surgery in June),” McGuire said. “I asked Jonathan if he felt a lot of young people would try and copy his goaltending style over time because he’s proven to be so successful.

“He said they may try and copy it but they’re going to end up in the emergency room.

“He plays just super aggressive and as [NBCSN executive producer] Sam Flood once said about Tim Thomas, he plays the [goalie] position like a linebacker in football. Quick does the same thing, and I worry a lot about whether he’ll have enough juice left in the tank.”

Kyle Clifford, meanwhile, was off ice this summer recovering from a broken wrist suffered during the Cup Final; Drew Doughty was absent from a large part of training camp dealing with an upper-body injury; Marian Gaborik missed four exhibition games with a groin ailment.

Part of this stems from playing so many games — lest we forget that six Kings (Quick, Doughty, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Slava Voynov) also played in Sochi — but part of this stems from the way L.A. plays. Darryl Sutter’s offense is predicated on getting pucks in deep, grinding to retrieve them, then grinding some more while keeping possession. The Kings are a big, heavy team that doesn’t shy away from taking the body, but even the strongest wear down after time.

2. They’re thinner than before. Los Angeles returns most of the team that hoisted Lord Stanley’s Mug in June, but a few key contributors are gone. Once GM Dean Lombardi made re-signing Gaborik a top priority, the resulting cap crunch meant there was no room for Willie Mitchell, a vital cog in both of Los Angeles’ championships.

Not to overstate Mitchell’s importance, but do consider this: the season he missed (2013) was the one in which L.A. failed to advance to the Final; last year, the 37-year-old blueliner averaged over 20 minutes during the regular season then expanded that role in the playoffs, bumping his TOI to 22:20 while scoring four points in 18 games.

“I miss Mitchie here on this team,” Doughty said recently, per LA Kings Insider.

The Kings’ cap crunch also cost them promising youngster Linden Vey, who was flipped to Vancouver at the draft. Though Vey only appeared in 18 games last year, he was one of three youngsters who starred in AHL Manchester and seemed destined to do good things with the parent club. The other two youngsters, of course, were Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson — both now firmly entrenched in Los Angeles on “That 70s Line.”

The Kings lost veteran depth as well. Colin Fraser left to sign in St. Louis, while free-agent acquisition Adam Cracknell was scooped off waivers by Columbus.

3. It’s really hard to repeat. As most know, there hasn’t been a back-to-back Stanley Cup champion since Detroit turned the trick in 1997 and ’98. Heck, it’s been five years since the defending champion even made it back to the Final — that was Detroit in ’09 — though L.A. and Chicago have come close in recent years.

“It’s probably the toughest trophy to win,” Sutter said at the start of camp, per LA Kings Insider. “To do it back-to-back, especially in the salary cap [era] in a parity league – I mean, if we’d have lost Game 7 to Chicago in the conference finals, then we wouldn’t be talking about it.

“It tells you how close it is.”

Part of that difficulty comes from having a big target on your back. This year, the Kings aren’t defending their title like they did in 2012 — now, they’re the two-time champions (and some people are already throwing around the dynasty label.)

This summer, it seems the rest of the Western Conference adjusted itself accordingly. After watching how much success L.A. had with its four centers — Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards — several teams set about adding depth down the middle: Anaheim acquired Ryan Kesler, Dallas traded for Jason Spezza, St. Louis inked Paul Stastny and Chicago signed Brad Richards.

It made for something of an arms race, but the Kings remain convinced their biggest challenge will come from within.

”Seems like the West is loading up, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s going to matter much what the other teams do,” Kopitar said, per AP. ”It’s going to matter what we do.”

Full strength Kings? Quick, Doughty, Stoll ready to play

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When the Los Angeles Kings play against the Anaheim Ducks tonight, Drew Doughty (upper body), Jarret Stoll (hip), and Jonathan Quick (wrist) won’t be in the lineup. For the first time since training camp started though, all three of them were available.

“Everybody that was [hurt] – obviously Cliffy’s been playing, he was cleared,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter told LA Kings Insider. “And the other guys have been cleared, so hopefully we get through tonight all right.”

Sutter plans to get Doughty into two or three preseason contests and will talk to Quick tonight before firming up a plan regarding him. Even Marian Gaborik, who missed two practices with what the team called a maintenance issue, was back on the ice Sunday.

All-in-all, it looks like Los Angeles might enter the season at full strength, although a lot can happen between now and their opener on Oct. 8.

“I don’t want to talk about it, because we just want to get through the next 10 days,” Sutter said. “I’ve been down that.

“You’re literally one injury away from that, and if you look at it, the guys that we’re bringin back into the lineup, Jonathan’s missed a lot of games in the last three years, and Gabby’s missed a lot of games. Drew missed the end of the season last year. If we wouldn’t have been in a playoff position, he probably would’ve had to play hurt. Stolly’s injury – when you get your hip operated on, it’s a major injury. So we’ve been able to get through with guys like Greener, who missed most of the year last year because of injury, and the lockout year.

“So hopefully we just get through the next 10 days.”