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Posted On Sunday, 06.03.2012 / 7:11 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

L.A.'s power-play ineffectiveness one of few worries

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Killing penalties has been a great strength for the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
 
They have erased 92.1 percent of their foes' opportunities, which is tied with the St. Louis Blues for best among the 16 postseason participants. They are also perfect in two games against the New Jersey Devils in the Cup Final.

Still, it is a concern for the Kings that they have put New Jersey on the power play so much -- eight times in two games, more than twice the number of man-advantage situations they have earned.
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Posted On Sunday, 06.03.2012 / 6:18 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Kings comfortable playing in tight games

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The obvious knock on the Los Angeles Kings for most of the season was that they were stellar defensively to stay in games, but didn't have enough offense to close it out a victory.

Even after Darryl Sutter was hired on Dec.21, the Kings struggled to score for two months. However, they still managed to go 25-13-11 under Sutter.

That last number is telling. Los Angeles played in 24 overtime or shootout games in the regular season, tied with the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks for the second-most in the League. The Kings also played in 46 one-goal games (the New Jersey Devils played in 37). L.A. is 6-0 in one-goal playoff games, while New Jersey is 6-4.

So did the experience from playing in all those close games carry over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where the Kings are 4-0 in overtime games?

"It would be interesting to see how many one-goal games we've played the last three years," Dustin Brown said.

That's a reflection of former coach Terry Murray, who was instrumental in molding the Kings into the defense-first team that is the foundation of this edition's juggernaut. L.A.'s lack of offense got him fired, though, and Sutter made them more aggressive without compromising that defense.

It also helps to have a unique mix of veterans and young stars, too.

"It's part of the makeup of our team and how we play," Brown said. "I think we're definitely comfortable in tight games, and that's due to some guys having a lot of big game experience and some guys playing here the last few years have been in a lot of those situations."


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Posted On Sunday, 06.03.2012 / 1:39 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Depth plays huge role for Kings in Game 2

NEWARK, N.J. -- Jonathan Quick is the constant, the bedrock of the Los Angeles Kings machine.

He makes the engine go, but the guy or guys who have helped Quick lead the Kings to victory after victory this postseason has been a rotating cast of characters. Trying to figure out who that guy is going to be is probably futile -- the Kings certainly don't who it is going to be.

They just expect it to be someone, and it is hard to argue with that belief after this incredible playoff run.

"It is the depth on our team," Jarrett Stoll said. "We've got a lot of guys that can put the puck in the net. We've got a lot of guys that come up with big plays. That's what you need. I don't think you can win with one or two lines and a couple D, or just a goaltender. You've got to have good depth and guys who chip in, whether it is offensively scoring a goal or killing penalties or blocking shots or taking a hit to take a play. There are so many things that go into it, but right now there a lot of guys doing a lot of good things."

Jeff Carter was the hero Saturday night, whipping a shot through a mass of bodies in overtime to give the Kings a 2-1 victory and a 2-0 series lead. Carter hasn't been a star for the Kings in this postseason, but they haven't needed him to be.

He's got five goals and 10 points, which has made him a solid secondary option. Game 2 has been Carter's time in this postseason. He had a goal in Game 2 against St. Louis, and he had a hat trick in to help the Kings to a 2-0 lead in the conference against Phoenix.

"You should come in every game expecting to win -- every game, regardless if you're home or away, thinking you're going to win," Justin Williams said. "We have that. The first two games could have gone either way. We've had a different hero step up, and tonight it was Jeff."

Anze Kopitar was that guy in Game 1 against the Devils. Dustin Brown has been that guy on a few occasions.
It hasn't always been the stars, though. Stoll sealed the first-round victory with a Game 5 overtime goal. Dustin Penner added an OT winner in Game 5 against the Coyotes. Dwight King, who was in the American Hockey League until February, and has spent most of this postseason as a bottom-six forward, has five goals for Los Angeles.
Every night it might be someone different, and the Kings are two wins from the Stanley Cup in part because of that.

The other part is Quick, who is now 14-2 and the Kings have scored a total of one goal in his two losses.
He fumbled the puck a few times early in Game 1, which might have just been Cup Final nerves, but Quick was outstanding late in that contest throughout Game 2. He's allowed two goals in two games -- one went off a teammate and in, and the other was tipped and veered at a sharp angle.

"He was on his game the whole time," Matt Greene said. "Game 1 you can say it was nerves or it wasn't, but he was there when we needed him and he's been a force all playoffs. ... We haven't had the best games [against New Jersey] in front of [Quick], but he's kept us in it and allowed us to get the wins."

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Posted On Sunday, 06.03.2012 / 1:35 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Devils' power play struggles again

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils' power play had three shots in four empty chances in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night. Not only were the Devils inept with the man-advantage, they allowed the Kings two shots while they were killing penalties.

The final power-play opportunity came late in regulation with the game tied, and while the Devils didn't get a shot on goaltender Jonathan Quick, forward Ilya Kovalchuk ripped a shot that hit the crossbar. That was about as close as the Devils came to scoring on the power play in a game they would lose in overtime 2-1 to fall into a 2-0 series hole.

"It's embarrassing the way we played," Kovalchuk said about the power play. "We have to work harder on the power play. We just think it'll be easy, but they have a great penalty kill for a reason. We have to be sharper and work, support each other everywhere, because I don't think we got a shot on net in three power plays."

The Devils are now 0-for-6 in the series, which shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Monday night. During their first power play, which came early in the first period, the Devils never generated a sustained attack. Instead, the Devils allowed two scoring chances to forwards Mike Richards and Trevor Lewis, sapping the strength of a strong start.
Less than two minutes after that first power play didn't bear fruit, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty gutted the Devils' defense for a highlight-reel goal that made it 1-0.

"I don't know if it's our PP or their PK," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "They're killing really aggressively and making a lot of good plays. They're not taking any chances and we're having a hard time getting to our setup. It's definitely something we have to work at and make sure we're a little better."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Sunday, 06.03.2012 / 12:39 AM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 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.
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Posted On Saturday, 06.02.2012 / 4:10 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Top marks for goalies during Combine fitness test

TORONTO -- With the fitness testing portion of the 2012 NHL Scouting Combine over, one of the things the results show is the next wave of goaltenders that come into the NHL will be big and very well-conditioned.

Goalies took the top six spots in the wing-span measurement, topped by 6-foot-5 Anthony Stolarz of Corpus Christi in the NAHL. His 81-inch wing span was three-quarters of an inch longer than Jon Gillies of Indiana (USHL), who measured 80.25 inches. Malcolm Subban of Belleville, NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked North American goalie, was third at 79.5 inches. Andrey Vasilevskiy of Ufa in Russia, Central Scouting's top-ranked European goalie, was sixth at 78 inches.

Matt Tomkins of Sherwood Park (AJHL) tied Calgary Hitmen defenseman Kenton Helgesen for the lowest percentage of body fat at 7.0. Kitchener goalie Frank Palazzese was third at 7.3 percent.

Subban and Jake Paterson of Saginaw (OHL) tied for third in the vertical jump at 30.5 inches, just behind leader Chris Calnan of the Nobles School (Mass.) at 32.5 inches, and London's Andreas Athanasiou (32.0). Tomkins was sixth at 29.8 inches.

Here is how the prospects fared in some of the other tests held Friday and Saturday at the Toronto International Centre:

Anaerobic fitness, peak power output: Sarnia forward Alex Galchenyuk -- who missed all but one regular-season game after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in October -- showcased how well he was healed by leading this category, which measures how explosive a skater he is. His high peak output could be the difference in gaining 2-3 strides on a defenseman on a breakaway. Kitchener forward Matia Marcantuoni and Muskegon center Matthew DeBlouw finished second, with Plymouth forward Thomas Wilson and Calnan rounding out the top five.

VO2 Max test duration: Rogle defenseman Hampus Lindholm lasted longest in the toughest endurance test at the Combine, staying on the bike for 14:40. The Swedish blueliner is No. 4 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters. That time was more than a minute longer than Everett defenseman Ryan Murray (13:32), Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked North American skater. Edmonton forward Henrik Samuelsson (13:25), Wilson (13:11) and Exeter School right wing Brian Hart (13:11).
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Posted On Saturday, 06.02.2012 / 3:46 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Lukas Sutter learned from watching Brayden Schenn

Saskatoon Blades center Lukas Sutter certainly picked a good time to have a career-season with so much attention on him during his draft year.

In addition to being a feisty and agitating player to go up against, Sutter, the son of former Philadelphia Flyers forward Rich Sutter, also proved to be an extremely valuable asset on the score sheet. He connected for career highs in goals (28), assists (31) and points (59). He also tied for second on the team with nine power-play goals and sported an impressive plus-15 rating.

Why all the success in his sophomore campaign with the Blades?

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Posted On Saturday, 06.02.2012 / 12:00 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Tallinder ready, could make appearance in Final

NEWARK, N.J. -- A blood clot in his left leg kept Henrik Tallinder out of the Devils lineup since Jan. 17, but the 33-year-old defenseman is now healthy enough to board a plane to Los Angeles during the Stanley Cup Final.

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said he has no reservations about putting Tallinder in his lineup, although that won't be the case in Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final against the Kings on Saturday night (8 p.m. NBC, CBC, RDS). DeBoer had some concerns about letting Tallinder take a six-hour flight due to his blood-clotting condition, but the team gave him clearance.

"Sure, you worry about it," DeBoer said. "Our doctors, trainers and him have a comfort level or he wouldn't be traveling with us. It's definitely an issue. I think a lot of people point to airplane flight as the cause for that."

Tallinder wasn't available Saturday to discuss what precautions he'll need to take in order to fly, but he once again skated with the team's black aces. He has been healthy enough to play for about two weeks, and DeBoer has fewer worries about putting Tallinder back in the lineup after such a long layoff after seeing forwards Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson seamlessly jump back into game conditions after lengthy absences.

You're never sure. I do know this -- he's kept himself in great shape," DeBoer said. "He looks good in practice. Before he went out, he was a top-two defenseman for us. You miss two, two and a half months. It didn't hurt Zajac coming back in. I know you're jumping into the Stanley Cup Final, not into the last week of the regular season.  But Josefson jumped in last round against the Rangers coming off six weeks out with a broken wrist, and it didn't hurt him.

"You hope you get the desired result, but you never know."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Saturday, 06.02.2012 / 11:40 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Devils to stick with same lineup for Game 2

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Peter DeBoer said Saturday morning that there will be no lineup changes for New Jersey in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) at Prudential Center.

The Devils will look to break even in the series after losing Game 1 in overtime, 2-1, on Anze Kopitar's breakaway goal 8:13 into the extra session.

Here is the Devils expected lineup for Game 2:

Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Patrik Elias - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Saturday, 06.02.2012 / 9:31 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Combine just part of the Draft Soup

TORONTO -- To Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney, the decision on what to do at the draft is like cooking a meal. You need all the ingredients, but too much of one thing can spoil the meal. That's why he enjoys the annual NHL Scouting Combine, but he told NHL.com it's important not to put too much emphasis on the event.

"It's like a soup," he said. "There's 20 ingredients and you have to make sure how much emphasis you put in certain areas."

Maloney, who said he didn't do a lot of amateur scouting this season, said he allows his scouts to run things in the interview room. He said the Coyotes talked to about 75 prospects during the four days of interviews, and for most of them he was a spectator.
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Quote of the Day

Because of the way they play and their skill set I don't think they're fourth-line players, so in my mind I'm looking at one of those guys I'll have to move over to the wing.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on his four-player battle for second-line center