Monday, Sept. 17
After Sunday’s large roster move, the Kings' roster was trimmed to 39 players (22 forwards, 13 defenseman and four goaltenders). On Monday, the team switched up the schedule, doing one large practice loaded with drills and then a second specialized practice in the afternoon, focused more on special teams.
The practice will be mostly focused on the penalty kill, an area the Kings struggled with last season (see below). The focus is to identify the guys that have the proper ‘instincts’ to be a good penalty killer.
SPECIAL TEAMS NEEDS TO BE SPECIAL THIS YEAR
'Instinct' was the word of the day at Kings Training Camp on Monday. Crawford and his staff are evaluating players that might be on the Kings radar for PK duties in 2007-08, looking to improve on a unit that finished last in the NHL killing off penalties at a 77.86% clip. Vancouver finished first with an 86.3% rating, so there is room for the Kings to improve.
In fact, last season, in the top-10 in terms of PK%, only Edmonton, Philadelphia and Carolina did not qualify for the playoffs and only the Oilers, Flyers, Blackhawks and Bruins did not finish .500 or better amongst the top-20 on the penalty kill.
Kings television color analyst Jim Fox sees three groups of potential penalty killers at camp…the proven penalty killers, a group led by Michal Handzus and Jon Klemm who have excelled in that area throughout their careers; the returners from last year, consisting of Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar et al, whom they want to continue to give opportunities to get better. Then there is the group that are going to get a look on the unit, Ladislav Nagy, Patrick O’Sullivan, Scott Thornton, Jeff Giuliano, John Zeiler, Marc-Andre Cliché and Trevor Lewis.
How some of the players in that last group pick up the PK, could go along way on who makes the roster.
“It could also factor in to the decision on who makes the roster on some of the position that there are battles for,” Fox said. “If for whatever reason they spot something in a Brady Murray, John Zeiler or a Jeff Giuliano, on the penalty kill, then yes, that could get them on this team.
“If someone excels on his understanding of the PK, Crow’s big word today was instinct, as most guys have an understanding of a forecheck or a back check, but PK is a different animal. It is a read all the time. If one of those guys has that instinct and does everything they ask of him on the PK, he ends up on this team.”
UPDATE ON THE YOUNG DEFENSEMEN
Brian Boyle, Joe Piskula and Richard Petiot highlight a group of young defenseman that has been getting a good look from Kings management and performing well at camp thus far.
Head coach Marc Crawford gave a short quote on each player to the media today.
On Boyle, “He is getting better and better each day.”
On Piskula, “He is not far away.”
And on Petiot, “He has had a good camp.”
KINGS LEGEND MEETS POP LEGEND
Who knew Rob Blake was such a Justin Timberlake fan? With Timberlake performing at STAPLES Center this weekend, Blake and his wife Brandy, took in the concert. Prior to the show, Blake and Timberlake did a meet and greet with Blake presenting the new King of Pop with a personalized Kings jersey.
…SPEAKING OF BLAKE
Blakey is the only Kings player that appeared in both of the first two preseason games with the club. The Ducks Jason King also skated in both of the Kings-Ducks games this past weekend. On Tuesday, Blake was paired with Peter Harrold, while seeing action with Drew Bagnall on Saturday night at STAPLES.
PRESEASON STATS LEADERS
Now that other teams have begun playing games on Sept. 16, Kyle Calder still leads the NHL in goals with two, tied with Carolina’s Erick Cole, the Ducks King and Atlanta’s Erik Perrin. Lubomir Visnovsky and Derek Armstrong both are tied for second in the league with two assists.
Practice – Non Playing Group: 9:15 – 10:30 a.m.
Pre-Game skate: 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Game at STAPLES Center vs. San Jose 7:30 p.m.
The team will fly to Denver after the game.