The Kings practiced this morning at 10 a.m. after a well-deserved day off following their sweep of a three-game home stand against Dallas, Minnesota and Vancouver.
Playing the second of a home and home against the Canucks in Vancouver on Friday, the Kings are looking ahead to playing 12 of their last 16 regular season games on the road.
Sean O’Donnell is scheduled to play his 1,000th NHL game this Saturday in San Jose, where he will become the 16th player to reach that milestone as a Los Angeles King.
GREENE GETS HIS HEAD IN THE GAME
Kings defenseman Matt Greene currently leads the team with 140 blocked shots, including one off of his face.
On Monday night, with six seconds left in the game against Vancouver, Canucks left wing Alex Burrows took a hard shot to try for the tying goal and his second of the game, but instead of the net he found Greene’s right temple.
“I blocked the first one and I was getting my head up to see where the puck went. Once I looked up I saw the shot coming right back at me, so I tried to get my face out of the way but it didn’t work.”
After blocking Burrow’s shot, Greene stood up and congratulated Jonathan Quick and his teammates on the win before heading off to the locker room for seven stitches.
“I just got up and didn’t really realize what it was, what it looked like. Maybe I was just punch-drunk but I was just trying to get off the ice; that was about it.”
To Quick the move was inspirational.
“He is an animal. It shows the kind of character that we have in the locker room here, how far the team will go to get a win. Just looking at him stand up with blood coming out of his forehead it showed what kind of competitor he is. It’s great to have a guy like that on your team.”
LA KINGS BUILD A PLAYGROUND
Kings captain and all-star Dustin Brown, who leads the Kings (third in the NHL) with 232 hits, is donating $50 for every hit this season to KaBOOM!, a non-profit who envisions a playground within walking distance of every child in America.
Today, the rest of the team and Kings organization are joining Brown in his support of KaBOOM! by building together a playground for the YMCA in the city of Bellflower.
“This is pretty cool for me to see how it is all done,” said Brown. “This is the LA Kings playground so it is a warm-up for me doing my own one. I think it is a good experience for everyone here, because all we are here is big kids playing a game. So to go and see how it can affect the community in a positive way with a playground and a place to play for kids is a good experience.”
The project started on Dec. 16 when Brown, his wife Nicole, Derek Armstrong and Bailey met 20 kids from the YMCA to draw their dream playgrounds, which were then used to determine the final design of the playground.
“We sat down with the kids and they had all sorts of creative ideas. Taking their ideas, at least the ones that we could use and putting it together will be cool.”
To complete the playground, the Kings are going to mix over 20,000 pounds of concrete, the equivalent of 41,600 pucks, and move almost 40,000 square feet of safety surfacing, enough to cover over two full-sized ice rinks.
“It is pretty cool to get involved with children,” said Armstrong. "We lead such a life in a bubble where everything is kind of handed to us. We obviously work hard, but it is nice when we can give back. I got a couple kids myself and any time we can make them laugh or see them chuckle it warms your heart.”
For more information log onto www.lakings.com/kaboom.
POWER PLAY, PENALTY KILL CLICKING THIS YEAR
Since going two for seven on the power play against Vancouver on Monday, the Kings are now 19-for-66 in their last 13 games (28.8 percent). They have converted on the power play in 19 of their last 22 games and in the last six straight.
During their latest home stand, the Kings were perfect on the penalty kill, going a solid nine for nine to shut down their opponents completely. In fact, the penalty kill is a full four percent better this season than at the same point in 2007-08, and over seven percent better than 2006-07.
Last three year comparison:
66 GAMES INTO 2008-09
66 GAMES INTO 2007-08
66 GAMES INTO 2006-07
62-302 (20.5 percent)
57-307 (18.6 percent)
62-358 (17.3 percent)
231-281 (82.2 percent)
194-248 (78.2 percent)
249-332 (75.0 percent)
IVANANS JOINS PRACTICE
Raitis Ivanans, still on the injured reserve, joined practice today and skated with John Zeiler and Brad Richardson. This was his first full practice since he was injured on Feb. 27 against Detroit.
Justin Williams skated during practice but did not stick handle or join in drills, wearing a yellow no-contact jersey and staying on the ice after practice to work with Kings Assistant Coaches Jamie Kompon and Mark Hardy.
KINGS ROOKIES PUTTING UP NUMBERS
The Kings have on their team two of the top rookies in the NHL with goaltender Jonathan Quick and defenseman Drew Doughty.
With the win on Monday night, Quick racked up his 16th win, bringing him up to third in the NHL amongst rookie goaltenders with 2.60 GAA, three shutouts and a .909 save percentage.
“I am not really thinking about that, or looking at the stats as much as I could,” said Quick. “Right now the team focus is just getting into the playoffs, that win the other night was critical as far as our playoff push goes. We are four points out now so that win will help a lot going down the road.”
Doughty, selected second overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, leads all rookies and the Kings in ice time with 23:49 average time-on-ice. He had a season high of 29:04 against Colorado on Nov. 22 and has played over 20 minutes in 61 of 65 games this season.
The Kings have had one Calder Trophy recipient in club history when Luc Robitaille won the award in 1986-87.
KOPITAR STAYS HOT
Anze Kopitar is one of the Kings keys to success lately, as the team is 15-3-2 this season when Kopitar scores a goal and 38-18-8 all-time when he scores a goal.
Looking to build on a five-game point streak (4-4=8), on Friday Kopitar hopes to get one game closer to his career high of eight games.
“It just seems like I am in the right spot at the right time,” he said. “I think it is always like that, when you are on a hot streak the puck comes to you a lot more than it usually would and when you are on a cold streak you try a little too much and it usually goes the other way. So I am just keeping it simple, putting pucks on net and trying to make plays.”
He has now scored over 20 goals in each of his first three NHL seasons. The last King to start his career with three straight 20-goal seasons was Luc Robitaille, who scored 20-plus goals his first eight seasons from 1986-97 to 1993-94.
“It feels pretty good to be compared to Luc. I think that it is a pretty good accomplishment and I am trying to go for a couple more now. But to be in the same position that Luc was years ago, it is a compliment for me.”