Category Archives: 2011 Playoffs

Hockeywood Tonight Game 4: Canucks’ Edition

‘Hollywood’ Scott Oake previews Game 4 from Los Angeles.

Hockey Night in Canada’s Tim Wharnsby weighs in on The Canucks chances of extending their playoff series with Los Angeles.

Daniel Sedin took to the ice Tuesday, after being out thanks to a concussion.

Here’s Sedin speaking to the media in L.A.

Cory Schneider meets with the media following Tuesday’s practice in Los Angeles.

Roberto Luongo talks about preparing for Game 4 against the Kings following Tuesday’s practice.

Alain Vigneault talks about Daniel Sedin’s return to Canucks practice a day before Game 4 against the Kings.

The Hockeywood Insider: First Round Playoffs

The Kings are on the verge of something remarkable. So we decided to do something equally remarkable.

The Hockeywood Insider is back.

For the second half of the season, we’ve been recording All The Kings Men, the brainchild of Jesse Cohen, and it’s been fun. I started kicking around the idea of recording an old school THI for shits and giggles. When I posed the question to Jesse, he was on board.

For this special edition of the show, we take a look at the three reasons why you can get excited about the Kings going all the way, based on their performance thus far in the playoffs. On the flip side, we point out three areas to be concerned with.

We also take a quick look around the rest of the NHL playoffs and Jesse takes a stab at who he thinks will win in each conference. And we talk about the sporadic suspensions that has been handed dwon by the NHL since the postseason has started.

And in true THI fashion, we allow ourselves to meander by talking about the upcoming Avengers movie, as well as Jesse disagreeing with me that The Dark Knight is the single best comic book movie ever. He’s just high.

There’s no school like the old school, and class is in session. It’s the Hockeywood Insider.

THI434: Boston/Vancouver… Who You Got?

The long 2010-11 season is looking to end on a high note, as the Vancouver Canucks have drawn the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. And Jesse and I hold up the match-up to the glaring light of logic to see what sense we can make (i.e.; how long can the Bruins last?)

We break down both teams a number of ways: offense, defense, goaltending and special teams. We ask the question: which city values the Cup more? And we take a stab at who the ultimate winner will be.

It’s the history of the Bruins pitted against the uprising of the Canucks. It’s Canada vs. America for all the marbles. And on a smaller scale, it’s Matt vs. Jesse. Sort of. Well, not really. But we do have a good time talking about it. Plus, we discuss the news of the Thrashers being moved to Winnipeg, and Jesse points out that they will most likely be called… the Moose?!?  I counter with the Winnipeg Wendigos. Who has the better idea?

Don’t forget, you can subscribe on iTunes, so you can get the podcast before anyone else does. And don’t forget to like the show on Facebook. The Hockeywood Insider: cracking wise for no particular reason.

Game 6: Sharks deliver final bite to Kings’ season.

Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings reacts after allowing the game winning goal in overtime to Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks in game six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on April 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Members of the Los Angeles Kings watch the San Jose Sharks celebrate after losing during overtime of Game 6 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey series in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)Game 6: Sharks 4, Kings 3 (overtime)

To peep out all the videos online about this game, check out today’s Hockeywood Dailies.

Wow, sorry for the delay of getting this recap up. Just as the Kings’ season was winding down, a brutal spring cold was gearing up in my house. So, after several days, I’m ready to re-visit Game Six.

The Los Angeles Kings had high expectations heading into the season, and led fans on a whirlwind ride filled with amazing highs and mind-numbing lows. Regardless of how many twists and turns a ride has, eventually it has to end. And so, the Kings’ 2010-11 ride is over.

After an impressive postseason, where they were able to push the defending Pacific Division leader San Jose, the Kings survived far longer than many expected.

Each time the Sharks struck Monday, the Kings were able to answer. In the second period, the Sharks struck first when Kyle Wellwood scored his first of the playoffs. But the Kings tied it when Justin Williams potted his third of the season with a power play goal.

A little energy left Staples when the Sharks’ Jason Demers to make it 2-1 a few minutes later. That energy was revived when Ryan Smyth scored in the first 18 seconds of the third to tie the game. Dany Heatley then scored an unassisted goal to give San Jose a 3-2 edge, as fans could sense time was running out on the season.

That’s when the Kings’ power play, all too often frustrating this season, struck for a second time. Trevor Lewis scored his first playoff goal to tie the game for a third time midway through the third period. Staples Center started to buzz as expectations started to rise.

That expectation turned into true energy when the Kings were awarded a five minute major penalty when Jamie McGinn blasted Brad Richardson with less than four minutes to play in the game. It seemed certain the Kings would be sending the series back to San Jose for a deciding Game Seven.

But then the Kings’ real power play… you know, the one that was ranked 21st in the regular season, showed up. They could only muster four shots with the man-advantage before time expired in the third. Two minutes after the Zambonis resurfaced the ice for the overtime, Joe Thornton killed the Kings with his first overtime goal of his career.

And it is rather fitting that the one most frustrating element of the Kings’ game this season, the paltry power play, was the one thing that let them down when they needed it most. Granted, they had two PP goals in the game, but like much of the season, the Kings’ PP percentage was weaksauce.

And thus ends the book on the 2010-11 season. From start to finish, I’d have to say it was one of the most interesting seasons to date. And if you are a regular listener to The Hockeywood Insider podcast, you have already heard my anology of the Kings taking baby steps under Dean Lombardi. Last year, they lost to the Canucks in Game 6 with less than two minutes left in the third period. This year, they lasted four minutes longer, only to lose in OT.

Am I reaching? Perhaps, but it shows that this team did make progress. And I’ll argue until the cows come home that the Kings would’ve been favored had Kopitar not broke his ankle late in the season. But whatever. Let’s chalk this season up to gaining more experience.

I’ll break down a season recap soon. Right now, I’m gonna go chug some DayQuil and get ready for work.

Brad Richardson #15 of the Los Angeles Kings talks with the referees after taking a high stick to the face in game six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on April 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
• AP: Sharks move on after outlasting Kings in OT

Justin Williams, Ryan Smyth and rookie Trevor Lewis scored for the Kings, who lost in the opening round for the second straight year and have won just one playoff series since their run to the 1993 Stanley Cup finals with Wayne Gretzky.

• LA Times: Kings’ elimination ends season of broken promise

Their season ended Monday six games into a playoff adventure that was as inconsistent as their 82-game season had been and unusually dramatic, though often for the wrong reasons.

• LAKings.com: Kings dropped in six

Fittingly, almost poetically, it all came down to one final power play.  For most of the season, a lack of power-play success had prevented the Kings from turning “good’’ into “great.’’ For all their accomplishments in 5-on-5 and penalty-kill situations, the power play remained a nasty weed in a fairly lush garden.  The Kings could have put all of that behind them Monday night. Given a golden opportunity, they could have scored the biggest power-play goal of the season. They did not.

• NHL.com: Sharks advance on Thornton’s OT goal 

The Kings erased 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits Monday, tying the game for the final time with 8:21 remaining in the third period on a power-play goal by Trevor Lewis. Jarret Stoll launched a shot from the left point that hit a skate in front, and Lewis knocked in the loose puck.

Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings shakes hands with the San Jose Sharks after being eliminated in game six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on April 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
They said it

“Regardless of what everyone else thought about this team going into the playoffs, we believed in this room that we could do something good. Any time a season is ending and you’re not the winning team, it’s a disappointment, but for every guy in here, I don’t think anything other than that everybody was giving their best shot. Playoff series are tough. They were the better team for stretches than we were and they found a way to come out on top. That’s just how it goes.” – Dustin Brown, on the end of the season

“It’s disappointing. At the end of the day, you feel like you
beat yourself a little bit there I think as a team. There were a few
games in there in the series where I think we could have played
better. I know everyone in the locker room thinks we could have played
better. You dig yourself a little bit of a hole against a team as good
as San Jose, and it’s tough to climb out of that.  No matter how hard we
fought, Game 5 and tonight, it wasn’t enough at the end.” – Jonathan Quick, on the end of the season.

“Going into overtime, we still had a minute and 36 seconds, something like that, to score a goal. We weren’t going to rush anything. We were going to make sure we made the right plays, made the right passes. It was a great opportunity for us. We should have scored. We didn’t, and our season is over. Myself, being the power play, I’m pretty disappointed that we didn’t score there.” – Drew Doughty, on not scoring on the five-minute power play.

“That’s the critical moment in the game, right there. We had a chance to put it away. I thought we did with about 17 seconds left in the game. There was celebration going on. People were throwing their arms in the air. i thought it was over. But again, that’s a missed opportunity.” – Terry Murray, on not scoring on the five-minute power play.

THI’s Playoff Special Game Six: Kings push it to the limit, but lose in OT

The Hockeywood Insider podcastThe Kings put up a valiant effort, but in the end, the better team won. That’s not to say this team can’t improve. But as this team is constituted right now, they might not have that far to go.

The Kings lost to the Sharks in overtime, and despite the initial frustration over losing, there’s a lot to be excited about. And Jesse and I discuss them. Like how good the team played without their best player in the playoffs. Like how several players stepped up in Anze Kopitar’s absence. Like how the Kings probably won’t need to go and add someone through free agency. Like how the team has established an organization-wide tracking system to monitor the progress of their prospects. Like how the franchise, while technically playing six minutes longer than last season.

It’s the final podcast of the Kings’ 2010-11 season (we still plan on doing these at the end of each round.) so we have a hard time saying goodbye. Don’t forget, you can still subscribe on iTunes, so you can get the podcast before anyone else does. And don’t forget to like the show on Facebook.

Buck up, Kings fans. We caught yet another glimpse of this team’s potential, and it was glorious. Too bad summer has to get in the way of things.

Coming Attractions: Game Six pregame videos

Hockeywood Tonight
Here’s NHL On The Fly’s look at Game Six.

Here’s the Blackberry preview of the Kings/Sharks.

Here’s the mutton-chopped Dustin Brown talking after practice Monday.

Here’s Terry Murray’s pregame presser.

Here the Sharks’ Dany Heatley, talking before Game Six.

And here’s Sharks coach Todd McLellan’s pregame press conference.

Finally, Heidi Androl sat down with BFFs Drew Doughty and Logan Coutore prior to Game Six.

Life In Hockeywood's Coming Attractions

Game 5: Quick’s stellar play sends series back to L.A.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) blocks a shot by San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture, right, as Los Angeles Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi, center, helps in the action during the third period in Game 5 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, April 23, 2011. The Los Angeles Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Los Angeles Kings left wing Kyle Clifford (13) celebrates his second goal with right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) and center Brad Richardson (15) after scoring past San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) during the first period in Game 5 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, April 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Game 5: Kings 3, Sharks 1

To peep out all the videos online about this game, check out today’s Hockeywood Dailies.

At the beginning of the first round series between the Kings and the Sharks, many pundits said L.A. goaltender Jonathan Quick could possibly steal the team a game. Turns out, he’s got stickier fingers than anticipated.

Quick set a franchise record, by turning away faced 52 shots on goal, helping the Kings force a Game Six and eliminating any controversy who the number one goaltender.

On the flip side, the Sharks’ starting goaltender Antti Neimi was chased in the first period, after allowing three goals on four shots. Antero Nittymaki came in and effectively stopped the bleeding.

This time, the Kings were able to hold onto the lead, despite giving up a ton of shots to San Jose. In addition to 53 shots, the Kings also blocked 22, which means the Sharks were looking for the haymaker early and often in Game Five.

The Kings killed all four of the Sharks’ power plays Saturday and they have snuffed out 18 of 20 in the series, including all the PPs at HP Pavilion. Keep in mind, this was the league’s second best power play unit overall and best at home. To see one of the Kings’ strengths factor so much in the series is impressive.

Bt the offense is still a question mark. On Saturday, it was The Wolfman Line (as my podcast partner Jesse has dubbed them because they have nards.). The frustrating thing was their ice time. Kyle Clifford, one of the best Kings in this series, got less ice time than a Zamboni preparing for a shootout in the regular season. Only Kevin Westgarth and Scott Parse got less ice time.

And for what he brings to his line, wouldn’t you think it would behoove the team to somehow get that Wolfman Line out as much as possible?

Of course, you can’t point to the paltry four shots the Kings registered in the third. At that time, they were just focusing on shutting down the high-powered Sharks offense. But it would be nice if the Kings could pot an empty-netter. There were several gimmes that the players shot wide right. Bury the biscuit in the basket, fellas.

Other highlights: Jarett Stoll won 15 or 17 faceoffs. He didn’t do much else, but he was very effective in the role he plays. Dustin Penner, he of the Trade Deadline deal, finally lit the lamp for the first time in the postseason. Surprisingly, Penner was starting, while Alexei Ponikarovsky was a scratch. Turns out to be the right move, as Penner has been very disappointing this postseason (and overall while donning the Crown in L.A.)

Most importantly, the Kings have now officially matched last season’s squad by pushing the series to six games. And now the series heads back to L.A., where the Kings haven’t won yet.

Listen to the players quotes, and they’re just excited the postseason has been extended another game. Maybe they didn’t believe they’d have a chance to win either. But as was evidenced on saturday, when the Kings really apply themselves, they are a tough matchup for anyone.

You thought Staples was loud in Games 3 and 4? Just wait until you hear the roar of Game Six. I was there when the Kings beat the Red Wings back in 2001. It was Staples turned up to 11. And now that the Kings have a little momentum, maybe they can make the Sharks scatter.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) and defenseman Rob Scuderi (7) celebrate after defeating the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 5 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, April 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
• AP: Kings avoid elimination with 3-1 win over Sharks

Jonathan Quick used his pads, glove and just about every other part of his equipment and body to make sure the Los Angeles Kings would hold onto this big lead and stay alive in their playoff series against San Jose.

• LA Times: Kings avoid elimination with 3-1 win against Sharks

But the Kings would not have prolonged their playoff series to a sixth game, set for 7 p.m. Monday at Staples Center, if not for Quick’s calm in the face of 19 shots in the first period and 18 in the third. The 15-shot middle period was a vacation by comparison.

• LAKings.com: Kings beat Sharks to head back to L.A.

“Unbelievable,” Matt Greene said.  “Unbelievable,” Wayne Simmonds said.  `He’s the reason why we’re still alive in the series,” coach Terry Murray said.  As usual, in the face of mass praise, Jonathan Quick shrugged, praised his teammates and looked ahead the next game. A playoff franchise record 51 saves? Ho-hum.

• NHL.com: Quick makes 51 saves in Kings’ 3-1 win 

Simmonds and his linemates have combined for six goals and seven assists in the series. … The trio has been especially impressive because they are so young and basically unsung. Richardson is the oldest at 26, while Simmonds is 22 and Clifford is a 20-year-old rookie.

• Mercury News: Sharks lose to Kings 3-1 in Game 5, series shifts back to Los Angeles

For the second time in three games, the Sharks dug themselves a three-goal hole in the first period, but this time they could not climb out of it, losing 3-1 to the Los Angeles Kings and missing the chance to close out their first-round playoff series.

• San Francisco Chronicle: Kings dust Sharks as Niemi departs early again

Antti Niemi was San Jose’s best player in the regular season. After becoming the everyday starter Jan. 13, when Antero Niittymaki went down with a groin injury, Niemi was the epitome of a steadying presence in leading the team from 12th in the West standings to second. In his final 31 regular-season games, Niemi allowed four goals (never more) three times and was pulled only once.  None of which means much now.

Los Angeles Kings left wing Dustin Penner, upper right, celebrates with teammates after scoring past the San Jose Sharks during the first period in Game 5 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, April 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
They said it

“At times, you get lucky and the puck hits you. You find yourself in the right place at the right time, which was the case a few times here. It hits your pad instead of going off the post and in, like it was the last couple nights. Like I said, it was a solid team effort. Everybody dug in. The PK was great. We got some big goals there in the first period and we were able to move on.” –Jonathan Quick, on his game.

“Our line, and I think the rest of our team, we kind of woke up a little bit. We realized, obviously, that we were in for one. We were lucky to score on our first shot, and we just tried to follow up from there.” – Wayne Simmonds, on getting the early goals after San Jose’s strong start.

“Absolutely. I think the fans have done a great job coming out
and supporting us. We’ve got to get a win for them. We’ve got to get a
win for them, to keep this going. If we want to advance here, you’ve got
to start winning on home ice. That’s obvious, especially since we’re
not going to get to start off any series (at home). So we’ve got to be
better on home ice, we’ve got to be better in Game 6 and come back ready
to play.” – Matt Greene, on whether the Kings feel they need to redeem themselves at home.

“They have my trust. I put them out there against the big line. They’re pretty responsible on the checking part of it, but really high-energy on the offensive side, recovering pucks, moving, creating opportunities for everybody. So it was a solid game by them, and it’s great to see your young guys step up in a pressure situation like this.” – Terry Murray, on the Wolfman Line of Clifford-Richardson-Simmonds.

“We have (a goalie decision) to make every night. We have two great goaltenders.” – Sharks coach Todd McLellan, on whether there is a goalie controversy now.

“A couple times he didn’t even see it, it just hit him. He was spectacular. You make 51 saves in a playoff game — not too many goalies can do that.” – Rookie Logan Couture, who was stopped on a point-blank shot at 8:32 of the final period.

THI’s Playoff Special Game Five: Quick comes up huge to return series to L.A.

The Kings are heading home for a Game Six, after Jonathan Quick and the Kings beat the Sharks. And while my excitement level is peaked, Jesse’s right there to tether me back to reality.

Game Five was a record-setting performance for Quick, who set a franchise record for saves in a playoff game. We talk about Quick and how he erased any doubt who the number one goalie is. We also take a look at whether the Sharks now might have a goaltender controversy between Antii Neimi and Antero Niittymaki.

We also have some praise for the offense, especially the Wolfman Line, and wonder why they were given the short end of the stick in ice time when it’s clear they are the best line for either team. We also flip it on its head and take a look at why the defense is struggling, especially with players like Drew Doughty.

Don’t forget, you can subscribe on iTunes, so you can get the podcast before anyone else does. And don’t forget to like the show on Facebook. The Hockeywood Insider, bringing your exclsuive playoff podcasts that you just can’t hear anywhere else.