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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
The Kings returned to the ice following the team’s eighth-straight loss, 3-2 to San Jose on Wednesday night. The Kings practiced for a hard hour at Toyota Sports Center on Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon.

Much has been made this season of Rob Blake’s plus/minus rating and a perceived lack of scoring production out of the Kings captain. But a closer look at the numbers shows that the Blakey of old is starting to emerge.

In addition to his power-play goal and assist vs. San Jose on Dec. 26, Blake also peppered Evgeni Nabokov with eight shots on goal, a season high and his most since Dec. 12 of last year, also vs. the Sharks.

His scoring outburst vs. San Jose extended his points streak to three games (1-3=4) and gave him 2-6=8 over his last nine contests with an even rating over that span. Blake now has 3-14=17 on the season, ranking 15th amongst NHL defensemen in assists and 24th in points.

The veteran defenseman has now scored 217-471=688 in 1,094 career games, 155-325=480 of which were scored with the Kings. His goal on Wednesday moved him to seventh all-time in Kings history, passing Jim Fox and he is now nine games away from passing Mattias Norstrom for the most games played by a Kings defenseman (Norstrom played 780 games) and five goals away from passing Bob Berry for 10th all-time in franchise history (Berry had 159 goals).

After scoring just one goal over the first 36 games of the season, Lubomir Visnovsky has now tallied goals in back-to-back games after lighting the lamp vs. Nashville on Dec. 22 and San Jose on the 26th. Interestingly, his power play goal vs. the Sharks was his first power-play goal of the year and his first goal against a team not from Tennessee, having scored his first two goals against the Predators.

The goal lifted Visnovsky’s season totals to 3-19=22, his 19 points rank eighth in the NHL amongst defensemen and his 22 points ranking 10th.

Visnovsky’s goal was scored by the Kings with an extra skater on the ice, pulling J-S Aubin in favor of an extra attacker as the Kings cut the deficit to 3-2 with less than a minute remaining.

Wednesday night was just the second such goal for the Kings with the extra attacker this season, as Blake also converted with an extra attacker vs. Minnesota on Dec. 15.

The NHL released an update on All-Star voting and with a week remaining it appears as if the starters are in place for the Western Conference. Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg (291,952) and Pavel Datsyuk (262,619) and Calgary’s Jarome Iginla (213,258) round out the top-three in voting amongst forwards with Colorado’s Joe Sakic on the outside looking in with 150,103 votes. Michael Cammalleri is fifth with 147,940 and Anze Kopitar has received 59,035 votes.

The defense parings will most likely be Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom (420,436) and Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf (275,395) both having a healthy lead over Anaheim’s Chris Pronger (181,529). Rob Blake is fourth with 155,391 and Lubomir Visnovsky has been picked 48,296 times.

The Canuck’s Roberto Luongo is all but assured of starting in net with 228,583 votes, well ahead of Pascal Leclaire of Columbus and his 165,499 votes.

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