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Posted On Wednesday, 07.04.2012 / 10:16 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Bowman: Hawks made 'impressive offer' to Parise

The Chicago Blackhawks didn't get Zach Parise -- this summer's top free-agent forward opted to sign with Minnesota on Wednesday -- but GM Stan Bowman said it wasn't for lack of trying.

"We made a very impressive offer to Zach. It came down to a family decision. You have to respect that," Bowman said during a conference call Wednesday night. "Our objective is not to make 'a splash.' Our objective is win hockey games. You can't look past the group we already have."

Bowman said that missing out on Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter -- who also signed with the Wild -- won't stop the Hawks from trying to get better.

The one thing Bowman said he couldn't offer was the chance to play at home.

Posted On Friday, 06.29.2012 / 9:46 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Report: Schultz to make decision on Saturday

Blue-chip defense prospect Justin Schultz reportedly will decide on Saturday which team he'll sign with.

According to a tweet from TSN's Bob McKenzie, "Free agent defenceman Justin Schultz will decide tomorrow where he's signing." He cannot actually put his name on a contract until Sunday, when free agency begins.

TSN's Darren Dreger reported Friday that the Edmonton Oilers, one of the teams reportedly on Schultz's short list, brought in a couple of big guns to make their case -- both Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey talked with him.

Posted On Tuesday, 06.12.2012 / 1:40 AM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Kings wrap up a spring to remember

It took the Los Angeles Kings 45 years to win their first Stanley Cup. But when they did, they won with a flourish.

The Kings completed their run to the Stanley Cup on Monday night by routing New Jersey 6-1 in Game 6 of the Final, capping a postseason in which they went 16-4. That leaves L.A. in a four-way tie for the fewest games needed to win the Cup since 1987, when the NHL adopted a best-of-seven format for all rounds of the playoffs.

The 1988 Edmonton Oilers won in 18 games (16-2), the fewest any team has needed to win the Cup in the last 25 years. The Kings are tied with the 1993 Montreal Canadiens, the 1995 New Jersey Devils and 1997 Detroit Red Wings for second place -- all won in 20 games.

Posted On Monday, 06.11.2012 / 11:41 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Six is lucky number for Kings

Not only did the Los Angeles Kings win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, they found a way to do it that no team had ever done before.

L.A.'s 5-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night gave the Kings their first championship since entering the NHL in 1967. The Kings became the first team ever to win the first three games of the Final, lose the next two and take the Cup by winning Game 6. Of the previous 25 teams to take a 3-0 lead, 20 finished off the sweep, three needed five games to win, the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs won in seven and the 1942 Detroit Red Wings lost in seven -- the only time that's happened in the Final.

The Kings also became the lowest-seeded team to take home the Cup -- they were 13th in the overall standings during the regular season. Before this year, the lowest-seeded team to win it all was the 1995 Devils, who were ninth -- just as they were this season. L.A. also became the first No. 8 seed to win the Cup since the current format was adopted in 1994.

Los Angeles became the first team since 2007 to win the Cup at home -- the Anaheim Ducks did it five years ago by beating Ottawa -- and ended a four-game losing streak by teams that had a chance to win the Cup in front of their own fans.
Posted On Saturday, 06.09.2012 / 11:56 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Kings impressive road win streak snapped

Because the longest road winning streak in Stanley Cup history is over, the Los Angeles Kings will have to try again on Monday to win their first championship.

The Kings brought a 10-0 record on the road this spring and a 12-0 mark during the past two seasons into the Prudential Center on Saturday night. They left with both streaks ended after a 2-1 loss that cut their lead in the series to 3-2 and sent everyone heading back to the West  Coast for Game 6 on Monday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

The Kings didn't make history because they couldn't defy it -- none of the three teams that won the first three games of the Final and lost Game 4 at home have won Game 5. That scenario hadn't happened since 1945, when Toronto won the first three games only to lose Games 4, 5 -- and 6 -- before winning Game 7 on the road. In the other, Detroit won the first three games in 1942, only to see the Leafs win the next four.
Posted On Thursday, 06.07.2012 / 8:57 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Kings not worried about going on the road again

They'd rather have spent Thursday celebrating the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. But the Los Angeles Kings weren't wasting any time Thursday wondering what might have been.

The Kings missed a chance to wrap up the first Stanley Cup in franchise history when they lost 3-1 to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Instead of celebrating, the Kings spent the day flying -- to Newark for Game 5 on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

But with a 10-0 record in road games during this spring's playoffs, the Kings were anything but worried about having to make another trip to Prudential Center.

"We just don't let any distractions bother us. We go in, we play our game," forward Justin Williams said before the Kings' flight to Newark on Thursday. "We know the Prudential Center's going to be rocking, just like when we had to go back to Phoenix and play Game 5, go back to Vancouver and play Game 5. The arena's are going to be rocking, and we'll have to be ready for them."

The Kings are just 1-3 in Game 4s this spring, losing three times at home when they've had the chance to complete a series sweep. But they're perfect so far in Game 5s -- L.A. has completed series victories with wins at Vancouver in the opening round and at Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals.

"We feel comfortable on the road," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "It's unfortunate we couldn't close it last night. But we'll try to do it on Saturday."

Not that it will be easy.

"Elimination games -- I don't know, the teams you play against are there for a reason," forwards Trevor Lewis said. It's not supposed to be a sweep all the time. You're not supposed to win every game.

"We know the fourth game is going to be the hardest," Lewis added. "It's the Stanley Cup Final here. It's pretty tough to sweep. We've got to make sure we're prepared and get ready for Game 5."

Posted On Wednesday, 06.06.2012 / 11:45 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Once again, Kings can't close the deal

The Los Angeles Kings have done almost nothing wrong this spring. Their only failing continues to be an inability to complete sweeps.

The Kings are the first team ever to go up 3-0 in all four series in a single playoff year, and they're also the only one to miss out on three chances to sweep in the same spring -- all at home. L.A. lost Game 4 to Vancouver in the opening round, did it again against Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals -- and dropped Game 4 for a third time on Wednesday when they allowed three third-period goals in a 3-1 loss to New Jersey that sent the Stanley Cup Final to a Game 5 in Newark on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Los Angeles was the 26th team to take a 3-0 lead in the Final -- and just the sixth that failed to complete the sweep. The last one was the 1981 New York Islanders, who lost Game 4 to the North Stars in Minnesota before winning Game 5 at home. Before that, you have to go back to 1957, when Boston won Game 4 in overtime at home against Montreal, which won the Cup at the Forum in Game 5.

The last eight teams that had the chance to complete a sweep in the Final had done so, until Wednesday.
Posted On Monday, 06.04.2012 / 11:28 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Kings make history, poised to make more

The Los Angeles Kings made some history on Monday night. They're ready to make even more on Wednesday.

The Kings' 4-0 victory against New Jersey in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final was the 15th of the 16 they need to bring the Cup to L.A. for the first time in franchise history. At 15-2 through 17 games, they've tied the 1988 Edmonton Oilers for the best mark ever at this stage of the playoffs -- and they became the first team since the playoffs went to an all best-of-seven format in 1987 to take a 3-0 lead in all four rounds.

L.A. is showing the value of getting through the early rounds as quickly as possible. The Kings could win the Cup in just 18 games, the same number the Devils played in winning three rounds just to get to the Final.
Posted On Sunday, 06.03.2012 / 12:39 AM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Kings stay perfect on the road

Teams spend six months battling for the home-ice advantage. The Los Angeles Kings continue to turn that strategy on its head.

The Kings made it 10 wins in as many playoff games away from Staples Center this spring when Jeff Carter's overtime goal gave them a 2-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. The 10 road wins match the record held by the 1995 and 2000 Devils and the 2004 Calgary Flames -- but L.A. is the only one of those teams to reach 10 road wins without a loss.

Kings of overtime -- Four of the Kings' 10 victories have come in overtime, including their wins in Game 1 and 2 of the Final. All four of the OT victories have come on the road -- a big reason that the guys in the white sweaters are now 16-9 this spring.

Counting their five-game loss to Montreal in 1993, the Kings have played seven games all-time in the Stanley Cup Final -- and five of them have gone into overtime. L.A. lost Games 2-3-4 to Montreal in OT 19 years ago.
Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 12:25 AM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Road teams continue to thrive in overtime

When it comes to winning in overtime during the Stanley Cup Final, it pays to wear the white sweaters.

Anze Kopitar
Center - LAK
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 16
SOG: 52 | +/-: 14
The Los Angeles Kings continued their own success away from home this spring as well as extending the success of visiting teams in the Stanley Cup Final by beating New Jersey 2-1 in OT on Wednesday in Game 1. Anze Kopitar's goal at 8:13 of overtime improved road teams' record in Final games that go past regulation to 6-1 since 2004 and 17-5 since 1990, when Edmonton's Petr Klima scored at 55:13 of extra time in Game 1 to win the longest game in Final history.

Overall, the visiting team has won 44 of the 74 Final games to go past regulation (not counting a pair of ties).
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It's an incredible feeling just to see it go in and see the Joe go pretty crazy.  Ever since the introduction there, I was kind of feeling the nerves, and to put that one home, I started to feel comfortable and I thought my play started to pick up.

— Nineteen-year-old Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin after scoring a goal in his NHL debut
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