Kopitar, Kings continue streaking, foil folding Blue Jackets

Ryan Smyth #94 and Jarret Stoll #28 congratulate Anze Kopitar #11, all of the Los Angeles Kings; on scoring his second goal of the night against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 28, 2010 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Los Angeles defeated Columbus 4-1. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Game 53: Kings 4, Blue Jackets 1

There seems to be a theme for this season for the Kings: exorcising their demons. Some of those demons are well-known, like winning at Joe Louis Arena. Other demons are lesser in stature, but just as frustrating. Riding a three-game win streak for the sixth time this season, the Kings head into Nationwide Arena, facing one of those demons, the Blue Jackets.

Since December of 2008, the Kings are 1-3-0 against the Blue Jackets. Columbus made the postseason last season, while Los Angeles was watching the playoffs from the golf course. But this season, the Kings and Blue Jackets' spots in the standings have flipped.

Who would've thought the Kings' catalyst for their current win streak? Greene scored his second goal of the season in the first period, tying a career high. But since he returned to the lineup after missing four games in the middle of January, the Kings have been undefeated. Coincidence?

Anze Kopitar, the Slovenian Stunner, is continuing the best January of his career with 14 points. He scored twice: the game-winner in the second period and a power play goal in the third. Not only that, but they were his 100th and 101st goals of his young career.

Much of that has to do with his linemates, Brad Richardson and Wayne Simmonds. And as productive as that line has been, the other line of Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth and Jarrett Stoll has been successful as well. In the Toronto game, their line figured prominently, with three assists from brown and goals by Smyth and Stoll.

Thursday night the line struck again, with Smyth notching his 16th goal in the third, with another assist by Brown. Stoll had the primary assist on Kopitar's power play goal 5 minutes later.

Jonny (Don't Call Me Jonathan) Quick had another stellar game, missing out on a shutout when Antoine Vermette scored with less than ten minutes to go in the third. He withstood a furious attack by the Blue Jackets in the first period by staying calm and hung the Jackets' out to dry. (Heh.)

Seriously, I hope Brian Burke is noticing his production. Quick has the lowest GAA and save percentage this past week and and the most wins of all three U.S. Olympic goaltenders the past month. If that doesn't warrant a start in one of the early games, then Burke's an idiot. (Before you start, I know Ryan Miller is widely accepted as the starter for the U.S. I just like taking swipes at Burke.)

Speaking of U.S. Hockey, this weekend is Hockey Weekend Across America. Don't forget to wear your favorite hockey jersey Friday. Over at ReebokHockey, they are having a video contest for Why Hockey Rocks, and the finals are underway. I don't have a horse in the race, but I personally like this one, mostly because that kid has better moves than me. I could never flip a puck on my stick like that.

Next up is another matchup with fellow U.S. Olympian Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins. Last time, the Kings beat the Bruins in a shootout at Staples. That loss has sent the Bruins on a downward spiral, as they haven't won a game in four games since. Boston will be playing back-to-back games, playing at Buffalo Friday night before traveling home to play L.A. Saturday.

• AP: Kopitar’s 2 goals power Kings past Blue Jackets
“(Kopitar)’s an elite player,” said Los Angeles forward Ryan Smyth, who also had a goal. “For him to grab a hold of 100 goals—and counting—is awesome. It’s nice to see. Obviously he works hard; not only offensively, but defensively. He’s a well-rounded hockey player.”
• LA Times: Kings make it four wins in a row
"The whole game changed," Columbus Coach Ken Hitchcock said of Greene's goal. "The energy changed and we didn't grab it back."
• LA Kings: Kings win fourth straight
In a game in late January, with immense playoff implications, against a team that still has a faint playoff pulse, the Kings had circles skated around them by the Blue Jackets for the first 10 minutes, but settled down after Greene’s goal and controlled the rest of the game.
They said it
“We know how important it is, playing on the road, and obviously how the standings are. It’s important to keep climbing. We’re playing disciplined and we’re playing with structure, and I think that’s leading to wins. We’ve just got to make sure we can continue that.” – Ryan Smyth, on Kopitar's 2-goal performance.
“It’s pretty special. You see the guys reaching 300, 400, 500, those big guys, and it’s pretty nice. Now I’ve got it started, a little milestone, and I’m ready to score a couple more now too.” – Anze Kopitar, on achieving the 100-goal milestone
"It highlights the `belief’ attitude that the players have, going into each one of those games now. We’ve had problems with Columbus. They’re a big team, they’re a heavy team. They’ve come into our building and played some very hard games against us, and in here we haven’t had a lot of success. So when you do get on a roll, and you do start to play and win games, you do start to develop an attitude that, hey, you’re a good hockey club." – Terry Murray, on the win streak.

Los Angeles Kings' Matt Greene, right, celebrates his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets with teammate Alexander Frolov during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Around the Kingdom

• LAKingsNews.com: Kings leave Jackets blue
After a 4-1 victory, you would expect to have had one team dominate the other. That really never happened tonight. Columbus simply could not convert on their chances and much of that credit goes to Quick for his excellent positioning and quick…er, speedy reflexes.  The Kings defense also receives much praise for breaking up nearly a dozen potentially solid scoring chances by having their sticks in passing lanes and bodies all over Columbus forwards.
• Jewels From the Crown: Commitment: Kings 4, Blue Jackets 1
Commitment came from Ryan Smyth and his drive to the net and subsequent tip in for the kinds of goals the Kings will continue to need more of. There is nothing about Smyth's game that I find lacking. I love his presence, drive, and tenacity.
• Yahoo's Puck Daddy: Puck Tracks Podcast: Matt Greene, Los Angeles Kings
Greene discusses the Method of Modern Love, as well as the pulse-pounding arena music during his time as an Edmonton Oilers player and how Eagles of Death Metal provided his Hollywood soundtrack. He's also a funny dude, which usually helps in these projects.
(Ed. note: I've embedded the short 4+ minute podcast down below)
• LA Kings Insider: Finding some chemistry?
When it comes to the Kings’ “new-look” lines, the line of Richardson, Kopitar and Simmonds found some early success, and Michal Handzus and Alexander Frolov have always had a certain chemistry. The line that probably has taken the longest to come together is that of Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown.
From across the aisle, the Columbus viewpoint

• Columbus Dispatch: Jackets take their beating quietly
It was reminiscent of the beatings Los Angeles used to put on Columbus in the early days, but those Blue Jackets weren't expected to make the playoffs. Those clubs didn't have a $50 million payroll.
• Puck-Rakers: Game No. 56
After the Greene goal their spirit was broken quicker than a puppy getting yelled at for messing the carpet. It was 1-0 with 48 minutes remaining and the Jackets were done. How is that possible?
• Inside Hockey: Kings break fragile Blue Jackets
With 11:05 gone in the first, Matt Greene let loose a shot from the right point which navigated its way through two unwitting Blue Jacket screens, and ultimately banked off of a third Columbus player, and into the net.   Unfair?  Yep.  Borderline brutal?  To be sure.  Life for the CBJ this year?  Absolutely.
• Light The Lamp: Carry The (White) Flag
Anze Kopitar - the games first star, one can only imagine if Dougy Mac would have drafted this stud instead of Gilbert Brule.  Then again, Kopitar went to the best place, for him, as I'm sure he would have been rushed by Dougy Mac, then squashed by the 'old school coach', for not playing the north-south, responsible, two-way....zzzzzzzzzz.
• The Dark Blue Jacket: Game 56/Los Angeles My Take
That the Jackets couldn't pick themselves up after that first period goal, in my mind, speaks directly to team leadership.  I won't blame the coach(es) on this one - the players were the ones who went flat.  Where's the spark?  Really, where's the sense of pride - or shame?
Peeping the dailies



<br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-US&brand=foxsports&vid=033ba18e-a032-45ed-928a-c8296e8cdd5a" target="_new" title="Kings blast Blue Jackets">Video: Kings blast Blue Jackets</a>

Here's Puck Daddy's Puck Tracks, which was featured above. Enjoy!

Puck Tracks Episode 3: Matt Greene, LA Kings from Greg Wyshynski on Vimeo.

 

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