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Report: Slava Voynov looking for dismissal of domestic violence case

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Disgraced Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov is asking a judge to dismiss his misdemeanor conviction of corporal injury to a spouse in a move, the LA Times reports, toward the possibility of returning to the NHL.

Voynov last played in the NHL in October 2014 after the NHL suspended him indefinitely after he was arrested on domestic violence charges. He’s played the last three seasons in Russia with the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg.

Per the LA Times:

Voynov’s wife, Marta Varlamova, told police in October 2014 that her husband punched her left jaw outside of a Halloween party. The dispute continued at the couple’s Redondo Beach home, according to the police report, where Voynov choked her with both hands three times, repeatedly pushed her to the ground, kicked her five to six times on the ground and eventually shoved her into the corner of a flat-screen television mounted on a wall.

“My blood, all over bedroom and bathroom,” Varlamova told police in a recorded interview. “And it’s not the first time.”

Voynov spent two months in jail after pleading no contest to the charges. He returned to Russia rather than face deportation from the U.S.

Voynov’s five-year contract with the Kings was terminated, but not before the Kings were fined $100,000 for allowing him to practice while under suspension.

The work visa, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, would allow Voynov to apply for reinstatement.

An expungement hearing is scheduled for July 2 in California court to remove the no-contest plea from his record. If that request is granted, he will have no criminal record. That would mean no further immigration problems in the U.S. or Canada. In fact, he’s had a U.S. Visitors’ Visa for at least a year, and, last summer, had some surgery done in Denver.

Even if this all goes through and Voynov gets the courts’ blessing (and subsequent blessings from other entities), it’s hard to think any team in the NHL would want to open its doors to him.

Friedman, however, said there is interest in the right-shot defenseman who is still just 28 years old.

The Kings still own Voynov’s rights as he is on the voluntary retirement list. Any team wanting to sign him will have to make a deal with the Kings.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

John Stevens ‘bewildered’ at non-call for Haula butt-end on Kopitar

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The Los Angeles Kings were already upset with Drew Doughty’s one-game suspension that saw him sit during their Game 2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. The hits kept on coming in Sunday’s Game 3 defeat when Erik Haula and Anze Kopitar tangled in front of the LA net and ended with Haula hitting Kopitar in the face with the butt end of his stick as he was getting up off the ice.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Haula wasn’t penalized on the play and that led to Kings head coach John Stevens giving ref Dan O’Halloran an earful. After LA dropped Game 3 by a 3-2 score, Stevens vented his frustration with the non-call.

“We get a guy suspended for making a hockey play, and he butt ends one of the best players in the world in the face with the butt end of his stick,” he said. “So, if I was confused before, I’m bewildered now. That’s an intent-to-injure play. I don’t like hard hockey – I love hard hockey. Good, honest, hard hockey, I love it. Kopitar’s about as tough of a guy as you can find. You guys make the judgement, because it’s a bunch of B.S., to be honest with you.”

Even though he stayed out of the box, Haula could be the subject of punishment from the Department of Player Safety, which, given history, would likely result in a fine rather than a suspension, if anything.

[Golden Knights stun Kings, eye first playoff sweep]

But of bigger concern for the Kings is being down 3-0 in the series and facing elimination on home ice on Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). LA has three goals in three games and have been unsuccessful at figuring out Marc-Andre Fleury.

“We’re down, but we’re not out,” Kopitar said. “There’s at least one game left to be played. We’ve got to start with winning one and we’ll go from there”

UPDATE:

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

LA Kings suddenly have plenty of issues on defense

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The Los Angeles Kings are down 1-0 in their first-round series to the Vegas Golden Knights and things have only gotten more difficult ahead of Game 2 on Friday night.

The Kings will be without Drew Doughty, because he was suspended for an illegal check to the head of Golden Knights forward William Carrier. As you’d imagine, not having Doughty is a major problem for them. On top of that suspension, they may not have Jake Muzzin (upper body) and Derek Forbort (lower body) at their disposal. Muzzin missed Game 1 and the final five games of the regular season, while Forbort missed the last two games of the season and Game 1, too.

Let’s start with Doughty, who is the most important blue liner of the three. The 28-year-old played in all 82 games during the regular season. He averaged almost 27 minutes of ice time over those games and while his team got 50.01 percent of the shot attempts overall, they got 52.76 percent of them when Doughty was on the ice. There aren’t too many defenseman better than him, so the fact that the Kings won’t be able to rely on him for one playoff game is a major disadvantage.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Muzzin, who averaged 21:39 during the season, also racked up an impressive eight goals and 42 points in 2017-18. With Muzzin on the ice, the Kings actually controlled slightly more of the shot attempts (52.93 percent) than when Doughty was on the ice. The 29-year-old hasn’t been ruled out for Game 2 yet, but he still hasn’t been able to take contact during practice.

Forbort isn’t as big of a name as the other two, but he still logged a significant amount of ice (averaged 20:47 throughout the regular season). He isn’t as gifted offensively as Doughty and Muzzin, but he still managed to post a Corsi For% number higher than 50 percent (50.33). Forbort played over 829 minutes with Drew Doughty, which means the Kings will be missing their top pairing in Game 2 and arguably their second-best defenseman in Muzzin.

As the old saying goes, “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” But heading back to Los Angeles down 0-2 is less than an ideal spot to be in when you’re playing an expansion team that is faster and deeper than you up front.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Kings have been different team with Jeff Carter in lineup

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Barring some sort of unfathomable collapse over the next five days the Los Angeles Kings are going to be back in the playoffs after falling short of the postseason a year ago.

If you’re searching for reasons why you should probably start with Anze Kopitar, whose dominant two-way play has thrown him into the Hart Trophy discussion. It is obvious that Kopitar is the team’s best player and one of the top all-around players in the entire league.

But for as great as he’s been, one of the turning points for the Kings season was the return of forward Jeff Carter back in late February.

Carter missed a significant chunk of the season due to an ankle injury that he suffered back in early October and it turned out to be a pretty devastating blow to a Kings team that hasn’t really been one of the NHL’s powerhouse offensive teams in recent years. Most teams will be hurt when you take a 25-30 goal forward out of the lineup for 60 games. That is especially true when it’s a team that is usually in the bottom half of the league in goals with him in the lineup. Take that player away and things can fall apart pretty quickly.

You don’t have to look far to see how much of an impact Carter’s presence can have on the Kings.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Let’s start with the obvious: With Carter in the lineup this season the Kings have averaged 3.16 goals per game and own a 17-5-4 record. That would be a 120-point pace over 82 games, which would make them one of the NHL’s best teams.

Without him in the lineup their offensive output drops down to 2.78 goals per game and the record falls to 27-23-4. That would be an 88-point pace over 82 games, a number that would put them pretty significantly out of the playoff race.

To be fair, we’re dealing with pretty small sample sizes here and in a sport like hockey, where even the best players only play a third of the game (at most), it’s sometimes difficult for one player to make that much of a difference for one team. It’s probably not as simple as “Well, Jeff Carter is in the lineup, the Kings are the best team in hockey.” There are a lot of variables that go into why a team wins and loses that do not just revolve around one forward. That being said, Carter is definitely an important figure for the Kings and a player they absolutely have to have in the lineup in order to succeed because he brings an important element that most of the roster lacks. Simply put: He scores goals.

Once you get beyond the top handful of players on the Kings roster there just are not a lot of players that are capable of consistently finishing and putting the puck in the net.

Overall for the season they are 17th in the league in goals. An upgrade from where they have been in recent years, but still not great.  Of the 18 teams that are either in the playoffs or still mathematically alive in the playoff race they are one of just five teams that does not have at least six players with at least 15 goals. The only two teams still in playoff contention that are below the Kings on the goal scoring leaderboard are the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues.

A lot of that is due to the fact that Carter missed three quarters of the season.

He already has 13 goals in the 25 games he has played this season, good enough for a 42-goal pace over a full season. All of his goals this season have come in the 19 games since he returned from injury, a stretch that has seen the Kings go 11-5-3.

He gives the Kings a second scoring line to help take some of the pressure off of the top line so it does not all have to fall on Kopitar’s line to do the damage.

When a team has a player score at least two goals in a game this season they have a points percentage of .819. Carter has done that three times since returning to the lineup in late February. The Kings earned five of a possible six points in those games (a .833 points percentage), while Carter alone accounted for seven of the team’s 11 total goals in those games. He’s also had two different three-game goal-scoring streaks over the past month. He’s probably single-handedly been responsible for the team picking up at least five or seven points over the past month.

Don’t think that makes a difference in the standings? Consider the No. 9 team in the Western Conference is four points behind them.

The Kings aren’t the dominant possession team they were in recent years when they were competing for the Stanley Cup on an annual basis, but they are still the toughest team in the league to score against and with Carter back in the lineup they now have two legit scoring lines that can pose a threat to opponents.

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

WATCH LIVE: Los Angeles Kings at Minnesota Wild

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Monday night when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. You can catch all of the action on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

KINGS
Tobias RiederAnze KopitarDustin Brown
Tanner PearsonJeff CarterTrevor Lewis
Kyle CliffordAdrian KempeTyler Toffoli
Andy AndreoffNate ThompsonTorrey Mitchell

Derek ForbortDrew Doughty
Alec MartinezDion Phaneuf
Jake MuzzinChristian Folin

Starting goalie: Jonathan Quick

[NHL on NBCSN: Kings, Wild continue pursuit of important points]

WATCH LIVE – 8 P.M. ET

WILD
Jason ZuckerEric StaalNino Niederreiter
Zach PariseMikko KoivuMikael Granlund
Tyler EnnisMatt CullenCharlie Coyle
Marcus FolignoJoel Eriksson EkDaniel Winnik

Ryan SuterMatt Dumba
Jonas Brodin – Ryan Murphy
Nick SeelerNate Prosser

Starting goalie: Devan Dubnyk