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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 11:19 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Kings of Europe

Young defenseman Martinez has been gaining notice

Although he did not find his way on to the score sheet Friday night in the 3-2 overtime victory against the New York Rangers in Stockholm, it was hard to ignore young defenseman Alec Martinez, who is entering his second full season with the Los Angeles Kings.

On most of the 24 shifts he took Friday night -- combining for 19:44 of ice time -- he did something positive to catch the eyes of the coaching staff and spectators alike. At other times, he was not noticeable at all -- which is also good for a defenseman because it means he is not making mistakes.

Less than 15 hours removed from that performance, Murray had some high praise for Martinez, who played his college Hockey at Miami University and made his NHL breakthrough this past season, appearing in 60 NHL games, as well as the Kings' first-round playoff loss to the Sharks.

"He's the kind of player that you have to make room for and you want to see grow and you want to see get more minutes in a game," Murray told NHL.com. "He's got great mobility, vision, he jumps up in the play and he can score goals and defends very well because of his agility and mobility.

"He's a young guy that still has some stuff to figure out in the defending part of the game, especially the down-low part of the game. But we want to keep pushing and demanding more of him so his game will continue to improve and he can contribute more in the critical situations. "

One of the things that makes Martinez so noticeable is his ability to handle the transition game and get the puck to the right places, allowing the Kings to get into that quick counter-attacking mode they favor. Plus, he can do it either with the puck on his stick, lugging it to the offensive zone, or with the quick pass.

"It is the way the game is evolving, with the speed now and the necessity for defenseman to be able to carry the puck, move the puck through the middle of the ice," Murray said. "We see a tremendous upside with him and we just hope that he is going to be able to handle the workload that we're going to ask of him."

Martinez's workload is approaching 20 minutes per game despite the fact that he plays a similar style to franchise cornerstones Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty. All three like to look for offense and all three still need to work extra hard in their own end to make up for deficiencies there. But Murray says Martinez has earned the extra playing time and he will continue to get it until his play suggests otherwise.

"You do have to have four (defensemen) that play a big part of it," Murray said. "You are looking for your shutdown guys that are going to match up against top lines and your PK guys like Matt Greene and Rob Scuderi. The other players -- particularly with Martinez, I don't think is a problem with putting more of a workload on him. He's able to handle it -- we have seen it in the minors and we have seen it in training camp.

"I'm just excited for him because he's a player that really surprised us last year whenever we called him up. He's become a pretty important player for us."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 9:47 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Kings of Europe

Murray says Premiere experience has been positive

For the Kings, their European adventure is almost complete.

After arriving in Hamburg on Monday for a Tuesday night game against the Freezers of the DEL, the Kings settled in Stockholm for three days. That stay was finished off Friday night with a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers in the first of two 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere games the Kings will play.

The team arrived in Berlin in the wee hours of the morning Saturday and will play the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1 victors against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday in Helsinki, Finland, on Saturday night at the O2 Arena here. After the game, the Kings fly to the United States for an extended stay on the East Coast before Thursday night's game in New Jersey.

Despite some obvious travel hardships, coach Terry Murray says his team's Premiere experience has been all the team could want.

"It's been a great week here (in Europe)," Murray told NHL.com. "To me, everything was really well done with the planning part of it. It's an incredible amount of work done by a whole lot of people. There's so many details. Our training staff has been phenomenal in getting done what they needed to get done in moving us around and having everything in place for the players.

"From the League standpoint, everything was exactly what we needed. There were plenty of people to give us whatever information we needed, to help us out to move around. I don't think you can ask for anything better than that actually."

Murray raved about Friday night's game in Stockholm, and not just because his team emerged victorious thanks to Jack Johnson's dramatic goal in overtime.

"Overall, I think the experience has been tremendous, giving back to the European fans," Murray continued. "The energy in the building (Friday) night was really good. It was a lot of fun playing in Stockholm. There are a lot of great Swedish players over the years, a lot of them in attendance (Friday night). That part of it was great and we are just looking forward to finish it off tonight in Berlin."

As mentioned, the Kings will charter home Saturday night after the game, arriving in the States in the early-morning hours of Sunday morning. After a rest-and-recuperation day Sunday, the team will hit the ice Monday to begin preparation for Thursday's game against the Devils. The team then plays the Flyers on Saturday night before heading home for next Tuesday's home opener against The St. Louis Blues.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 9:42 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Kings of Europe

Penner will miss second straight for Kings

Dustin Penner will not play in Saturday's 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere final against the Buffalo Sabres at O2 Arena, missing his second-straight game with an unspecified injury, coach Terry Murray stated Saturday morning.

"Every day that he is off the ice, he's going to get better, he's going to recover more," Murray told NHL.com at the team's Berlin hotel. "We'll get him through another day here with some treatment and then we'll get back over to East Coast after the game tonight and then we have four days before we play again. That's going to be good for him. We'll get him back on the ice on Monday and work on getting his conditioning back up. Three days of hard work and hopefully he'll be ready for the Devils."

Penner missed just the seventh game of his career since becoming a full-time player in the NHL during the 2006-07 season.

Murray also revealed on Saturday morning that Jonathan Bernier will get the start in goal for Saturday night's game. Jonathan Quick was the goalie in Friday's 3-2 OT win against the Rangers in Stockholm, stopping 24 of 26 shots. But Murray has decided to shuffle the deck, in part because of the hard travel conditions to get to Berlin post-game. The team did not arrive at the hotel until after 2 a.m. local time.

"It's back-to-back games and it was a very late night last night," Murray said. "Getting here, that is too hard. That's part of it and the other part of it is both goalies are looking good; they are fresh and we'll give Bernier his opportunity tonight."

Bernier is 15-11-3 in his 32 career appearances, posting a 2.56 goals against average, a .911 save percentage and 4 shutouts.

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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 3:55 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Kings live blog

Kings' power play comes through with winner

The Kings' stagnant power play finally came to live in overtime, giving the Kings a 3-2 victory when jack Johnson scored on a rebound with 52 seconds left in OT.
 
Anze Kopitar started the play with a shot on Henrik Lundqvist that resulted in a rebound. Mike Richards was alongside the crease and he shoveled it on Lundqvist for a second save, but Jack Johnson, pinching from the point, made no mistake as he roofed the rebound over Lundqvist, who was brilliant throughout.

The Los Angeles' power play had been 0-for-4 before that goal.

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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 3:36 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Kings live blog

Overtime next for Kings, Rangers

The Kings had an excellent chance to win the game in the dying seconds of regulation as Brian Boyle committed an unnecessary interference penalty with just 2:03 remaining in regulation.

The Kings had two excellent chances -- including a hard shot from Dustin Brown -- but could not solve Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Kings are 0-for-4 on the power play so far.

We are heading to overtime as regulation ends with a 2-2 tie.

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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 3:31 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Kings live blog

New King Richards ties game

Well, that was short-lived, as the Kings have come back and tied it 2-all late in the third period.

Mike Richards beat Michael Del Zotto to position in the slot and got his stick down to tip a sweet pass from linemate Brad Richardson over the shoulder of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist with 4:59 remaining in the game.

Kings coach Terry Murray's hunch certainly paid off there as he decided to put Richardson onto that line when Dustin Penner (undisclosed injury) could not go. In doing so, Murray talked about his late-season surge of confidence and the world-class speed that allows Richardson to gain separation on defenders. Both were on display on that goal.

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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 3:29 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Kings live blog

Gaborik goal puts Rangers ahead

For the Swedish fans that wanted a tense affair with their local heroes playing a big part, that wish has come true through the game's first 50 minutes.

Marian Gaborik scored to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead with 9:32 remaining in regulation. Gaborik scored on a goal-mouth scramble when he received a shovel pass from Brandon Dubinsky and wristed a shot that ricocheted off Jonathan Quick and into the net. Brad Richards earned his first point as a Ranger with the secondary assist on the play, a centering pass from behind the net.

Plus, the fans have watched local hero Henrik Lundqvist put on an absolute clinic -- especially in the first period, when he kept a sluggish Rangers team in a game in which it was being out-shot at a 3-to-1 margin.

The Rangers, thought have overcome the early doldrums and has taken the play to Los Angeles as often as not in the past 30 minutes.

Ryan Callahan has been the impetus for that revival. He already has 10 shots in this game.

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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 2:44 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Kings live blog

Rangers, Kings tied 2-2 after two

The action continued in a back-and-forth manner in the second half of the second period -- again without a score, though.

The Rangers, however, had their first power play as Simon Gagne took a roughing penalty on Ryan Callahan, who has been New York's top player through two periods -- the Rangers had four shots in the first period and Callahan had three of them. On this play, it was going hard to the net that resulted in Gagne's retaliatory foul.

The Rangers couldn't capitalize on the man-advantage, though, as Quick did some good scrambling to deny a great chance by Marian Gaborik.

As the period progressed, the hitting picked up as both teams seemed to find their legs.

However, the score remains 1-1 heading into the third period.
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 2:23 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Kings live blog

Rangers picking up the pace

The Rangers have found the right gear here in the second period to make things a bit more even.

The highlight of the early part of the period was a spirited fight between the Kings' Kyle Clifford and Brandon Prust of the Rangers, which was received enthusiastically by the crowd.

Shortly after that, the Rangers gave up a third power-play to the Kings, who had a few chances. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, however, made two big saves to deny the Kings on a third-straight man-advantage situation.

New York's best chance in the first half of the second came from Artem Anisimov, but Quick swallowed it up.
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 1:23 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Kings live blog

Kings, Rangers tied 1-1 after one period

The Los Angeles Kings dominated the first period of Friday's 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere game against the New York Rangers, but the game was tied 1-1 after one period.

Kings forward Anze Kopitar opened the scoring with a laser-beam of a shot over the glove of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist after a bad turnover by Artem Anisimov. Justin Williams jumped on the loose puck just inside the Rangers blue line and was able to slip a pass to Kopitar in the slot for the quick release.

The Rangers struggled mightily to generate offense in the first and did not manage a shot on goal until right before the tying goal by Ryan Callahan at the 15:22 mark. The scoring play started with a turnover and an initial save by Jonathan Quick on Callahan. But Callahan re-acquired the puck, on a pass from Anisimov, and fired a bad-angle shot -- from the goal line -- over Quick's shoulder and inside the far post.

The pro-Rangers crowd at the Globe Arena cheered wildly for the Rangers, particularly Lundqvist and Norway's Mats Zuccarello, who played several years in Sweden before joining the Rangers. Lundqvist actually provided the period's biggest highlight with a lightning-quick glove save on Kings captain Dustin Brown in the high slot.

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic