The Kings returned to the ice for practice on Thursday at Canmore Recreation Centre after taking Wednesday off to conduct a team-building exercise in Canmore, AB…more on that later. Some notes on the Los Angeles Kings, winners of three straight overall, three straight on the road and six-of-nine overall.
QUITE THE REBOUND FOR LABARBERA
Take a look at Jason LaBarbera’s last three games since being yanked after surrendering three goals on just seven shots in just under seven minutes in the Kings 7-0 loss to Nashville on Jan. 8:
Stopped a career-high 48-of-50 in the Kings 5-2 win over Toronto
Made 23-of-26 saves (one highlight reel save 700K) and three-of-four in the 4-3 shootout win over Dallas
Tuesday’s 32-of-33 performance in 3-1 win over Edmonton.
Overall, LaBarbera is 3-0-0, stopping 103-of-the-last-109 pucks that came his way (not including 3-of-4 on the shootout vs. Dallas), good enough for .944 SV% and a 1.94 GAA and most importantly, three straight wins.
SACRIFICING THE BODY
LaBarbera has stopped the shots that have gotten to him, but a closer look at the stats shows the Kings are blocking a lot of shots of late. The Kings have blocked 52 shots (to the opposition’s 26) during the last three games. Los Angeles had 25 blocked shots alone Tuesday at Edmonton. Rob Blake leads the Kings with 103 blocked shots and Jack Johnson is second with 76.
SPEAKING OF BLAKE
Blake has points in six of the last seven games (1-7=8) and has 16 points overall in the last 18 games (3-13=16). The team captain passed Mattias Norstrom Tuesday in Edmonton for the most games played by a Kings defenseman (781, which is fourth most overall). He is four goals from passing Bob Berry for 10th all-time in franchise history and is seventh all-time in franchise points. Blake is already the Kings all-time leader among defensemen with 156 goals, 332 assists and 488 points. Blake is only 12 pts away from 500 as a King and four away from 700 in his career.
Though "Mush" is not the most common term used in dog sledding, the term that is most commonly used, "Hike," is more of a football term than a hockey term. Terminology aside, Head coach Marc Crawford and staff put the squad through another team-building exercise on Thursday.
"It was really cold," LaBarbera said. "It was good at first because I was driving and I built up quite a sweat but that caused me problems later because I was wet when I was riding in the sled and it was cold.
"It was a cool experience I had never done anything like that before. It was nice to see the mountains like that and the cool part was seeing how the dogs worked as a team. I had Modry and Visnovsky with me, so we had a good group."
Not so according to Dustin Brown.
"I really enjoyed watching the dogs work together, we had six dogs pulling three of us uphill, so that shows just how strong they are," Brown said, but added, "I don’t know if we had fast dogs or what, but we were right no Barb’s group's tail. Our dogs were right on Vish’s ankles the whole time."
The team took shuttles to Canmore, AB, located about 70 miles West of Calgary and known for its scenic setting and a trio of peaks called the Three Sisters. The players were divided into 10 teams, with 2-3 Kings players on each sled and six to seven sled dogs pulling each sled. From all accounts, it was very cold but was a lot of fun and very scenic. Kings Vision will have more about this in the future.
"It was pretty cold up there," Brown said. "But it was a fun experience."
SULLY STEPPING IT UP
Patrick O’Sullivan tallied a goal and an assist vs. the Oilers on Tuesday and has 16 points in the last 18 games (7-9=16). He has 26 points overall (12-14=26) in 47 games this season. He had five points (3-2=5) in his first 25 NHL games and has 40 points (14-26=40) in his last 66 games.
Ted Purcell, whom Dean Lombardi plucked as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine back in March, made his NHL debut Tuesday night in Edmonton. Late last week, Purcell was named to the AHL All-Star team, after having scored 14-39=53 in 40 games played at Manchester this season.
Looking at his stat line from his NHL debut on Tuesday, Purcell finished the evening scoreless with three shots on net and an even rating, in 12:26 TOI, after being recalled on an emergency basis.
STREAKY KINGS STAY HOT
The Kings 3-1 win over Edmonton was their third straight win overall and their third straight road win. This was the first time the Kings had won three straight on the road this season, they did earn points in three straight (2-0-1) from Oct. 19 - Nov. 13, however. It was the first time the Kings had won three straight away from STAPLES since winning four straight from Dec. 6-21, 2005, a span of 84 road games. Prior to this three-game road winning streak, the club had dropped six straight road contests (Dec. 5-22).
Overall, the club has won three straight games, the team's third winning streak of three or more games this season, with a high of four straight from Oct. 19 - 27. In addition, the club has won six of nine games for the second time this season (Oct. 16 - Nov. 3), which of course they followed up with a win and an OT loss for a run of 7-3-1 over an 11-game span.