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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 6:36 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

Greene brings big presence back to Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- From opening day to the end of April, the Los Angeles Kings' dressing room was quieter. They are not a chatty bunch to begin with, and when defenseman Matt Greene was gone, his deep tone was noticeably absent.

"He's a big voice in the locker room, and when he was missing this year, you could really feel it in the atmosphere in the dressing room," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "It's not something that is necessarily needed to play well, but it lightens the atmosphere and it keeps things loose, which is a big part of a season and the playoffs. It can't be serious all the time. We certainly missed him in that way, and certainly what he brings to us on the ice. We've missed his experience and leadership."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 3:55 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

Clifford likely starting on Kings' top line

LOS ANGELES -- The faces will be the same although some will be rearranged, so to speak, for Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

The Kings stuck with their new look at the morning skate, with captain Dustin Brown dropped to the third line and Kyle Clifford on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Wednesday that Clifford might not stay with the top line, but for now it appears he will -- at least at puck drop.

How will Clifford mesh with Kopitar and Williams?

"Ask me at the end of 10:15 [Pacific time]," Sutter said. "Or later."

Sutter said it wasn't really about Clifford so much as the need to get better play from all his forwards. The Brown-Kopitar-Williams line has two points in the series, which prompted a change.

San Jose coach Todd McLellan stuck with his same lines and said forward Martin Havlat is out for Game 5. "And we'll just go day-by-day with him," he said.

McLellan said he didn't know if it was an advantage to see an opponent make changes.

"It's probably best to answer that later on in the series," McLellan said. "We looked at our lineup after two games and wondered if we needed to move some people around. Sometimes injuries dictate that. You guys don't know what's going in our room as far as injuries and bumps and bruises. We don't know what's going on in theirs. Sometimes minutes are cut back … because guys are hurt. We really don't know what's going through either of the locker rooms, and I'm only worried about mine right now."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 7:12 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

Lack of scoring pushes Brown to Kings' 3rd line

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings were able to grind out a low-scoring first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the St. Louis Blues, but the past two second-round games against the San Jose Sharks have forced coach Darryl Sutter to make changes.

Kings captain Dustin Brown was dropped to third line right wing while Kyle Clifford took his spot on the first line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams at practice Wednesday.

Los Angeles has scored one goal in each of the past games, each a 2-1 loss to the San Jose in that evened the Western Conference Semifinal series at two games each.

Game 5 is Thursday at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN).

"We've scored two goals in 120 minutes, so I'm not surprised by any changes," Brown said.

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Posted On Monday, 05.20.2013 / 4:46 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

Clifford expects to return for Kings in Game 4

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kyle Clifford could return to the Los Angeles Kings' lineup for Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Jose Sharks when the series resumes Tuesday (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Clifford skated with the fourth line in practice Monday, with Brad Richardson and Colin Fraser, and indicated he will be in for Game 4.

"It definitely looks that way," Clifford said. "It feels good to get back in the lineup. Playing with those guys, it's going to be a lot of fun."

Coach Darryl Sutter said that "everybody that's on the ice is available. At some point it will be good to have him back."

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Posted On Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 6:04 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

Kings' Pearson pleased with NHL debut

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Tanner Pearson never thought he would play with the big club when the Los Angeles Kings called him up from Manchester of the American Hockey League.

Pearson thought he would simply play with the Black Aces and act as a sort of practice squad for the regulars. But he was told the day of Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks that he would make his NHL debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“It all came to reality when I first stepped on the ice to start the first with all the fans going crazy. It was pretty loud in that building but it was fun to be a part of it,” Pearson said Sunday.

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Posted On Sunday, 05.19.2013 / 6:02 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

Kings try to refocus for Game 4, but OT loss lingers

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A day passed for the Los Angeles Kings to let their emotions settle down, only to have reality set in.

Two late penalties drew all the attention -- and complaints from Kings players -- after a 2-1 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. That obscured that Los Angeles was uncharacteristically undisciplined, again allowed a lot of shots, yielded much offensive-zone time, and continued to see little production from its top line.

L.A. gave San Jose five power plays in Game 3, its most times shorthanded since Game 1 of the quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues. Prior to that, the Kings had not given the opposition five power plays since Feb. 17.

"I'm not happy taking that many penalties," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Sunday. "It doesn't matter if we agreed with the calls or not. It doesn't have any impact on anything."

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 6:12 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

Kings looking to improve on road

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It was easy for the Los Angeles Kings to joke and shrug off a dangerous-looking facial injury to Anze Kopitar a day later.

Kopitar said he needed about 20 stitches to close a cut near his mouth after he was hit by the puck on a shot by teammate Dustin Brown in the third period of Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinal series Thursday night.

"There goes the modeling career," coach Darryl Sutter joked. "Best looking Slovenian athlete."

Informed of Sutter's comment, Kopitar said, "I think that ship has sailed long time ago."

Kopitar returned to the "Rocky" theme song at Staples Center, and the Kings delivered one of the franchise's greatest comeback wins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they erased a 3-2 deficit in the final two minutes for a 4-3 win against the San Jose Sharks.

Modeling jokes aside, the Kings must put on a serious face as the best-of-7 series moves to HP Pavilion for Games 3 and 4. L.A. leads, 2-0, but it is somewhat misleading given it was largely outplayed in both games.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.16.2013 / 3:41 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

No Torres, Stoll means line shifting for Sharks, Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Joe Pavelski will take Raffi Torres' spot, at least at the start, when the San Jose Sharks play the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinal series Thursday night.

San Jose coach Todd McLellan also moved Scott Gomez up to third-line center and will insert Tim Kennedy on the fourth line. Torres faced an NHL hearing in New York on Thursday for his hit on Jarret Stoll of the Los Angeles Kings and will not be available.

"We discussed a lot of different options, and I don't know if this is written in stone by an means," McLellan said after the morning skate. "We've got to start somewhere and see where it goes. The majority of their scoring from the Kings have come from their top two lines -- eight of their 14 [goals]. The odds are that they're going to continue to have an impact in games going forward.

"We like [Pavelski] there, we think he's a responsible two-way guy, and he has an ability to help out in the faceoff circle against a [Anze] Kopitar or a [Mike] Richards for the most part, so we think that's important."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 6:31 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

Richardson will take Stoll's place for Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Lost in the wonder of the Los Angeles Kings’ stomp through the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs was how healthy they stayed. Los Angeles basically used the same lineup, with the exception of injured Kyle Clifford.

This season is entirely different, and the latest adjustment will be the absence of Jarret Stoll after he was knocked out of Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal series Tuesday night.

San Jose Sharks Raffi Torres delivered the hit and was scheduled for a hearing with the NHL.

Stoll presumably has an upper-body injury, and coach Darryl Sutter said Wednesday, "He’s missing in action” and day-to-day. Asked if it’s a long-term injury, Sutter said, “How long is the series?”

Game 2 is Thursday at Staples Center, and Game 7 is scheduled for May 28. The Kings lead 1-0 after a 2-0 win in Game 1.

Torres hit Stoll at the end of the second period. Stoll did not return to the game, and Torres received a charging penalty.

Sutter said, “I thought [the hit] was careless” and wouldn’t comment on if he thought it was a suspendable offense.

“Who are we to even talk about that stuff?" Sutter said. "Totally leave it to the League and principals to look at those things. It’s just frustrating to see that, that’s all.”

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Posted On Monday, 05.13.2013 / 5:11 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Kings-Sharks series blog

Kings happy with rare home-ice advantage

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The sexy Southern California matchup dissipated into the warm air here, but the Los Angeles Kings still will have their hands full with an in-state divisional rival.

The Kings gathered at their practice facility with an opponent and a date: Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Jose Sharks is Tuesday at Staples Center.

The alternative would have been playing an epic inaugural Stanley Cup Playoff series against the rival Anaheim Ducks.

"I would have liked to have played the Ducks," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "I think we match up well with them, and it would have been good for California to have that rivalry because everyone kind of makes that rivalry so big around California. But to us, we haven't really had to battle with them like a playoff series so I think a playoff series would have made that rivalry a lot deeper."

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This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares