Kings crown Avalanche as they head into Olympic break

Goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save on a shot by T.J. Galiardi #39 of the Colorado Avalanche in the third period at Staples Center on February 13, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Avalanche 3-0. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Game 61: Kings 3, Avalanche 0

So, that's how it's done.

The Kings' affinity for early-game siestas were nowhere to be found Saturday, when they took on the road-weary Avalanche.

The Kings came out and took the game right at Colorado, pushing them hard while limiting them to 4 shots in the first period. Playing their third game in four days showed, as the Avs looked lethargic.

The Kings got goals from Brad Richardson, Anze Kopitar and Oscar Moller. But none received any of the Stars of the Game...

U.S. Olympian Jonathan Quick was named the number one star for his shutout. he faced 22 shots, but wasn't really tested in the game. Perhaps he found motivation in the fact that there's a really good chance he won't get into any Olympic action, and wanted to make a statement. If Quick doesn't get a taste before, say Boston's Tim Thomas, then Brian Burke's head isn't on straight.

In the past month, heading into the 2010 Olympics, Quick has been on fire. He has 10 wins to Ryan Miller's 4 and Thomas', um, zero wins. Quick's 2.46 GAA is also lower than Miller's (2.61) and Thomas' (3.44). He also had the only shutout between the three in the past month as well, which happened to be Saturday's blanker.

I was leary of having the Kings' workhorse netminder riding the pine in Vancouver, when he could be resting at home and working out with the team when practice resumes. But now, I want to see Quick in goal, especially against Canada.

Defenseman Jack Johnson, fresh off his whirlwind trip to Vancouver, also showed no signs of fatigue. He had two assists on the game, both of which in the third period, and got the nod for second star. Say what you will about his plus/minus (which many misguided fans have been focusing on recently), Jack has really found his place on this team. After underachieving the past two seasons, he's really embracing his role and is only getting better.

Richard Clune, the rookie from Toronto, who in his second NHL game, registered two assists and one fight, got the third star. In fact, he almost scored before his fight, when his attempt on Craig Anderson was turned away and he was shoved into the goalie. The fight was a draw, but showed exactly the type of player the Kings have.

So now, two weeks without the NHL... I'll be able to get back up to speed, now that my laptop has avoided imminent disaster from some spilled coffee. Later this week, a new podcast and possibly an Olympic preview video... Stay tuned. But make sure to join fellow hockey fans on Sunday, Feb. 21 in Long Beach, as we get together to watch the underdog U.S. team take on the powerhouse Canada team.

• AP: Kings beat Avs 3-0 behind Quick’s second shutout
Jack Johnson’s excellent adventure to Vancouver and back didn’t take too much out of him. He still had enough energy at both ends of the ice to help the Los Angeles Kings go into the Olympic break with a victory.
• LA Times: Kings go into the break with a victory
The team that dug hard for a full 60 minutes Saturday bore little resemblance to the one that finished last in the Pacific Division the last two seasons. And that leaves anyone who thought the Kings' fast start was a fluke in need of a reassessment.
• LA Kings: Kings blank Avs
Now, the Kings scatter. Five will be in Vancouver, for the Olympics. Hawaii, New York and Maine are among the other destinations. Many will stay in Southern California.
They said it
“It’s huge getting that win in that last game. I know that our focus tonight was exactly how it has to be for all of our games. We kept things simple and didn’t do too many cute things. That’s why we came out strong and came out with a win. Hopefully we can remember the things we did tonight, and bring that in after the break.”– Drew Doughty
“We have 10 days to decompress and we have to be ready to go.  The Olympic break is a tough thing to do, especially when you are not playing.  I think it is probably easier for the five guys who are going to the Olympics." – Dustin Brown, on going into the Olympic break
“We’ve got 78 points. We’re now one point back of Phoenix with two games in hand. We’re in a good position right now. We have 15 games in March and six in April in front of us, so it’s going to be a sprint to the finish and it’s going to be a lot of fun." – Terry Murray, on where the Kings stand now.

Michal Handzus #26, Oscar Moller #9, and Jack Johnson #3 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate a goal during a game against the Colorado Avalanche on February 13, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Wendi Kaminski/NHLI via Getty Images)
Around the Kingdom

• The Royal Half: Love, Staples Style
Sure the Colorado Avalanche were tired. They had played at home the night before.. and they looked like. So this time, the Kings came out strong against a team that it should be strong against and pretty much controlled the game the entire night.
• Magic fills the air at Staples as Kings shutout Avs 3-0
The win puts the Kings only a point back, with a game in hand, from fourth place Phoenix.  The Kings have a record of 10-1-1 in their last twelve games. 
• Jewels From the Crown: Calm, Cool, Collected
Jack Johnson had a decent game after I thought he was going to spend half of it asleep on the bench. After having an unforgettable time chartering a plane for him and his family to get to the Olympics, he wasn't completely horrible in the game.
• HockeyBuzz's Matthew Barry: Newcomer Clune Helps Kings/Quick Shutout Av's 3-0
 There was effort, there was hitting, and there was determination.
• Inside Hockey: Kings work, look to rest
Those listless Kings of Monday and Thursday night went on Olympic break early, leaving a group of committed and hard-working guys in their old uniforms. 
Across the aisle, the Colorado viewpoint

• Denver Post: Avs take early break, fall to Kings
"After they got that goal, things kind of slipped a bit for us," said Avs center Paul Stastny, who will leave this morning on a flight to Vancouver to play in the Games. "They played well, and have a good team. I just think we didn't have our best night."
• All Things Avs: Postgame Avs-Kings – Break was supposed to start tomorrow, guys
I came all the way here for that? If somebody could have told me the Avalanche would take their Olympic break a day early, I could saved the airfare and caught a movie back home tonight with the missus or something.
• Mile High Hockey: Game 61 Recap: Kings 3, Avalanche 0
A key moment in the game was a five minute powerplay that the Avs did not manage to score on. In fact, they didn't generate much pressure at all and the Kings got the boost, scoring shortly after the kill.
Peeping the dailies

<br/><a href="" target="_new" title="Kings blank Avs before break">Video: Kings blank Avs before break</a>


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