Tag Archives: Tanner Pearson

Los Angeles Kings 2017-’18 Season Preview

Los Angeles Kings

39-35-8, 86 points, fifth in the Pacific Division

Additions: GM Rob Blake, F Mike Cammalleri, D Christian Folin, G Darcy Kuemper, Head Coach John Stevens

Subtractions: G Ben Bishop (traded to DAL), D Matt Greene (retired), GM Dean Lombardi, D Brayden McNabb (drafted by VGK), Head Coach Darryl Sutter

Offseason Analysis: If postseason berths were awarded based on goals allowed, Los Angeles would have been not only the third seed in the Pacific Division in 2017, but also the entire Western Conference. In fact, at 205 goals allowed, Los Angeles was the only non-playoff team in the entire league in the top-15 of the statistic.

Unfortunately for the Kings’ offense, that’s not the way this game works.

Last season, Los Angeles couldn’t score to save its life. Even with F Jeff Carter’s team-leading 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists), the Kings could only manage 201 markers – tying for the fifth-fewest in the league.

If a club is struggling on offense, what better place to find a scorer than the entry draft? That’s exactly where new GM Blake looked, selecting 18-year-old C Gabriel Vilardi (29-32-61 in the OHL) with the 11th-overall pick. Fans shouldn’t grow too attached to the idea of him wearing black and silver this year though, as Los Angeles’ top two center positions are locked up for at least the next five seasons (Carter will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022), barring a big trade. Both Nick Shore (6-11-17) and Nic Dowd (6-16-22) will be free agents following this season (restricted and unrestricted, respectively) and could open up a hole in the lineup for the youngster, but I’d be concerned about playing the potential future of the offense, should the scouting reports prove correct, on these more physical lines during his development. Vilardi will almost certainly be back in Windsor trying to win his second-straight Memorial Cup this season.

And that leads us to a major problem with the Kings: they are returning almost an identical roster as last year. That is just fine for the Pittsburgh Penguins or Nashville Predators, but teams like the Kings that are trying to capitalize on a two-time Cup-winning goaltender still in his early 30s – like Jonathan Quick – should be doing all they can to help him out.

General Managers in all sports face the tough job of building a competitive team, keeping a balanced budget, appeasing the owner and making the fans happy. It’s a touchy situation that often doesn’t have clear right or wrong answers.

Unfortunately, Lombardi didn’t find the right balance between those things last season. Currently, the Kings have eight forwards signed to contracts through at least the 2019-’20 season for $1.6 million AAV, at minimum. Six of those are Lombardi’s responsibility, as his attempts to keep the 2014 Stanley Cup-winning gang together and hope they rediscover that magic ultimately led to him losing his job this offseason.

Then again, it doesn’t seem Blake learned from his predecessor’s mistakes, as he is responsible for signing 25-year-olds LW Tanner Pearson (24-20-44) and F Tyler Toffoli (16-18-34) this summer. My concern with these signings is not that these players aren’t worth their contracts, but that it has only added to the logjam of talent that will make it difficult for youths like Vilardi to make the team and could make it difficult to trade pieces in the future.

Offseason Grade: C+

The Kings added Cammalleri to replace unsigned Jarome Iginla and shored up the backup goaltending position (sorry Mr. Game 1 Jeff Zatkoff, but Kuemper is better and younger), but they’re returning almost an identical lineup as last season. Unless Stevens can find a way for the offense to increase production and Quick can add four more wins than Peter Budaj could manage in his absence last year, the Kings are on their way to another postseason on the couch.

2017 NHL Expansion Draft: Protected Lists

30 of the NHL’s 31 teams submitted their protected lists on Saturday by 5 p.m. ET. The protected lists were made public at 10:30 a.m. ET (originally scheduled for 10 a.m.) on Sunday. Additionally, the available lists of players to choose from were released.

The Vegas Golden Knights will now spend the next few days constructing their roster, with the full reveal set for Wednesday night during the NHL Awards Ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

To recap, here’s all of the protected players:

Anaheim Ducks

Forwards: Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Antoine Vermette

Defensemen: Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm

Goaltender: John Gibson

Arizona Coyotes

Forwards: Nick Cousins, Anthony Duclair, Jordan Martinook, Tobias Rieder

Defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn

Goaltender: Chad Johnson

Boston Bruins

Forwards: David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller

Goaltender: Tuukka Rask

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Evander Kane, Johan Larsson, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo

Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen

Goaltender: Robin Lehner

Calgary Flames

Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferlund, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Lazar, Sean Monahan

Defensemen: T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton

Goaltender: Mike Smith

Carolina Hurricanes

Forwards: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Elias Lindholm, Brock McGinn, Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen

Defensemen: Trevor Carrick, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy

Goaltender: Scott Darling

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Ryan Hartman, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews

Defensemen: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook

Goaltender: Corey Crawford

Colorado Avalanche

Forwards: Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto

Defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov

Goaltender: Semyon Varlamov

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards: Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, Alexander Wennberg

Defensemen: Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard

Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky

Dallas Stars

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Antoine Roussel, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza

Defensemen: Stephen Johns, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell

Goaltender: Ben Bishop

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg

Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Nick Jensen

Goaltender: Jimmy Howard

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Defensemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera

Goaltender: Cam Talbot

Florida Panthers

Forwards: Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck

Defensemen: Aaron Ekblad, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Keith Yandle

Goaltender: James Reimer

Los Angeles Kings

Forwards: Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli

Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin

Goaltender: Jonathan Quick

Minnesota Wild

Forwards: Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker

Defensemen: Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter

Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards: Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw

Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber

Goaltender: Carey Price

Nashville Predators

Forwards: Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen

Defensemen: Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, P.K. Subban

Goaltender: Pekka Rinne

New Jersey Devils

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, John Moore, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson

Goaltender: Cory Schneider

New York Islanders

Forwards: Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, John Tavares

Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock

Goaltender: Thomas Greiss

New York Rangers

Forwards: Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Nick Holden, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal

Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist

Ottawa Senators

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris

Defensemen: Cody Ceci, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf

Goaltender: Craig Anderson

Philadelphia Flyers

Forwards: Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Claude Giroux, Scott Laughton, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek

Defensemen: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning

Goaltender: Anthony Stolarz

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin

Defensemen: Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz

Goaltender: Matt Murray

San Jose Sharks

Forwards: Ryan Carpenter, Logan Couture, Jannik Hansen, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney

Defensemen: Justin Braun, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Goaltender: Martin Jones

St. Louis Blues

Forwards: Patrik Berglund, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko

Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo

Goaltender: Jake Allen

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos

Defensemen: Braydon Coburn, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman

Goaltender: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards: Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, Matt Martin, James van Riemsdyk

Defensemen: Connor Carrick, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly

Goaltender: Frederik Andersen

Vancouver Canucks

Forwards: Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter

Defensemen: Alexander Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Christopher Tanev

Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom

Washington Capitals

Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson

Defensemen: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov

Goaltender: Braden Holtby

Winnipeg Jets

Forwards: Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler

Defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba

Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck

March 13 – Day 145 – West is wild

It’s another Manic Monday in the NHL, with 16 teams in action this evening. Like it usually does, tonight’s festivities start at 7 p.m. with two games (Tampa Bay at the New York Rangers [TVAS] and Columbus at Philadelphia [SN1]), followed half an hour later by Carolina at the New York Islanders (NBCSN). 8 p.m. marks the puck drop of Winnipeg at Nashville, which precedes Pittsburgh at Calgary by an hour. A trifecta of matchups (Boston at Vancouver, Colorado at Arizona and St. Louis at Los Angeles) act as tonight’s tri-nightcap, as the all drop the puck at 10 p.m. All times eastern.

Things have really tightened in the Western Conference wild card race, and that competition will be on full display tonight when the eighth and ninth-place teams square off in the Staples Center!

 

 

 

 

 

St. Louis enters tonight’s game with a 35-27-5 record, which is good enough for fourth in the Central Division and eighth in the Western Conference. It’s been an up-and-down season for the Blues, but they’re definitely riding an “up” right now with their four-game winning streak.

When St. Louis is winning like it is right now, it’s usually due to its offense. Having notched 185 tallies in 67 games, the Notes are tied for the 11th-best scoring rate in the league. As you’d probably guess, the engineer behind most of that scoring is Vladimir Tarasenko, who has an impressive 61 points to lead the team.

Even more impressive? His goal total, which currently stands at 32. He ties for third in the NHL in scores, and is on pace for seven more before the season comes to a close.

St. Louis is especially effective on the power play, as its 22.3% success rate ties for fourth best in the league (and best in the west). Although Tarasenko leads the team with 20 power play points and eight power play goals, he has not been very effective of late with the extra man. In his past five games, he’s only registered one point – albeit a goal – with the man-advantage.

Special teams seem to be a point of emphasis for Mike Yeo, because the Notes are also very strong on the penalty kill. Led by Captain Alex Pietrangelo‘s 29 shorthanded blocks, the Notes have successfully defended 83.6% of their penalties, the eighth-best rate in the NHL.

Playing host this evening are the 33-28-6 Kings, the fifth-best team in the Pacific Division and ninth-best in the West. Winners of their past two contests, Los Angeles‘ biggest struggle this season has been scoring, as their 166 goals is the eighth-lowest total in the league. That being said, the Kings have have managed to score a dozen goals in their past four games, so perhaps Darryl Sutter has finally found a solution for his club.

Although offense has been tough to come by for the club as a whole, Jeff Carter has been having a fantastic season. He’s notched 31 goals for 59 points, both totals that lead the team. It’s quite the resurgence for him, as – if he stays on pace – he’ll have the best campaign of his career since his 46 goal, 84 point effort with Philadelphia in 2008-’09.

But beyond Carter, scoring has been a struggle for Los Angeles. To put things simply, it’s not a good sign when the second-best scorer on the team – Tanner Pearson – has only 22 goals. Excluding those two, no other Kings have more than a dozen tallies.

The Kings have found their success this season on the defensive end of the ice, and that is no more apparent than when they’re on the penalty kill. Refusing to yield a goal on 84.9% of its infractions, Los Angeles ranks fourth-best in the NHL when down a man. Alec Martinez deserves a lot of credit for that prosperity, as his 28 shorthanded shot blocks lead the team.

To make this game even more important, it acts as a rubber match for the season series between these clubs, as they’ve both one of their previous two meetings. The Blues last visited the City of Angels on January 12 when they fell 5-1.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Los Angeles‘ Carter (31 goals [tied for seventh-most in the NHL]) and St. Louis‘ Tarasenko (32 goals [tied for third-most in the league]).

I’m not surprised that Vegas favors Los Angeles to win tonight, but I am surprised the Kings have a -145 advantage. Both teams enter the game hot, but I like Los Angeles to pull together a victory on the back of their solid defense and their newfound explosive offense.


Sparked by two quick first period goals to chase Devan Dubnyk, Chicago fought within a point of the Western Conference lead by beating the Wild 4-2 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

Who else to get the Blackhawks on the scoreboard than Second Star of the Game Patrick Kane? Assisted by Artemi Panarin and Johnny Oduya, he scored a wrist shot only 51 seconds into the game to give the Hawks an early 1-0 lead. That differential doubled to two when Panarin (Kane and Niklas Hjalmarsson) scored a snap shot 3:47 later. Minnesota pulled back within a tally with 9:30 remaining in the frame when Eric Staal (Nino Niederreiter and Marco Scandella), but could not level the game before the first intermission.

5:28 into the second period, Trevor van Riemsdyk (Marcus Kruger and Jordin Tootoo) expanded Chicago‘s lead back to two goals with a wrister that proved to be the game-winner. Even though the Wild fired 20 shots on goal in the second period, they could not break through First Star Corey Crawford.

Once again the Wild pulled within a goal when Mikael Granlund scored an unassisted wrister 46 seconds after starting the third frame, but once again Minnesota couldn’t pull even. They couldn’t manage another goal for the rest of the game, and Marian Hossa (Third Star Duncan Keith) made sure a comeback would be difficult by setting the score at 4-2 with 6:18 remaining in regulation.

Crawford saved 42-of-44 shots faced (95.5%) to earn the victory, leaving the loss to Darcy Kuemper, who saved 18-of-20 (90%). Kuemper came into the game in relief of Dubnyk, who was pulled after allowing two goals on two shots. Dubnyk earned no decision after 4:38 of play.

With that victory, home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series have finally reclaimed an advantage, even if it is only by one point, over the roadies with a 74-52-21 record.

February 27 – Day 131 – Qui(c)k Trip to Minnesota

This Monday in the NHL is no different than many of the others in that there aren’t too many games on the schedule this evening. The staggered starts begin at 7 p.m. with Montréal at New Jersey (RDS), followed half an hour later by Ottawa at Tampa Bay (RDS2). Finally, tonight’s nightcap – Los Angeles at Minnesota (NBCSN/TVAS) – drops the puck at 8 p.m. All times eastern.

Jonathan Quick‘s triumphant return to the ice Saturday has significantly increased Los Angeles‘ chances of making the playoffs, but they face a stiff test against the Wild tonight. What better way to see if they’re up to the task for a magical run?

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Just as I was prepared to count the Kings out of this year’s edition of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Quick reemerged from injured reserve and proved he is more than capable of resuming the high quality play we know he’s capable of. He proved that by allowing only one tally against the Ducks.

He resumes control of a team 30-27-4 Kings team that is currently three points outside a playoff spot, as it’s only fifth-best in the Pacific Division and ninth-best in the Western Conference. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Quick’s return probably will have little impact on the offense, where it needs the most help. The Kings have managed only 149 goals  in 61 games this season, which ties for the sixth-worst scoring rate in the NHL.

The issue becomes immediately apparent when one analyzes the Kings‘ individual performances. Jeff Carter has had an incredible season and is far-and-away Los Angeles‘ brightest spot as his 30 goals and 55 points are both team-highs. But he leads second-best Tanner Pearson by 11 tallies and 18 points, a wildly large disparity.

Compare that same differential to Minnesota‘s much more well-rounded attack. Mikael Granlund, the Wild‘s leading point-scorer, has 55 points to his name, only nine more than Mikko Koivu. Similarly, he and Nino Niederreiter – who both have 19 tallies – lead Jason Zucker‘s effort by only one goal.

Not surprisingly, the offense continues to struggle even when presented with the man-advantage. Even with Carter’s 16 power play points and nine extra-man goals, the Kings have found success only 16.7% of the time, the seventh-worst rate in the league.

What’s kept Los Angeles alive this season is that as bad as the power play has been, the penalty kill has been good. Led by Alec Martinez‘ 26 shorthanded shot blocks, the Kings have properly defended 84.5% of opposing power plays, the fifth-best effort in the NHL.

Of course, no matter how good Quick looked against Anaheim, the Wild is a far superior opponent. Even more alarming, it’s not even the offense that makes this team the best team in both the Central Division and the West. Instead, it’s the incredible play of their netminder, who has allowed only 136 goals against – the second-fewest in the league.

To put things simply, 32-11-3 Devan Dubnyk has been one of, if not the best goaltender in the NHL this season. Not only is his .933 save percentage and 2.01 GAA the best in the State of Hockey, but they’re also the best and second-best marks, respectively, in the league.

His effort is made only more impressive by the fact that he faces an average of 31 shots-per-game, the (t)10th-highest rate in the NHL. Jared Spurgeon has done all he can to limit his netminder’s work with 106 shot blocks, but he’s the only skater with more than 80 to his credit. But, with as well as Dubnyk, is playing, I doubt Bruce Boudreau will hear him complain too much.

The Wild continue to be an impenetrable force even when they’re down a man, as their 83.1% penalty kill rate is 10th-best in the league. Just has he does at even-strength, Spurgeon headlines the penalty kill, as his 15 shorthanded blocks lead the club.

The Wild‘s penalty kill is good, maybe even great, but their power play is even better. Actually, to be more specific, it’s tied for best in the league with Toronto, as both are successful on 22.8% of attempts. Granlund headlines that attack with his 17 power play points, but it’s Niederreiter who will keep Quick on his toes. The Swiss wing has buried eight extra-man goals, the most on the squad.

On January 7, the Wild made their annual trek to the Staples Center to face Los Angeles, and they almost came away with two points. Instead, Pearson scored an overtime winner to give the Kings a 4-3 victory.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Los Angeles‘ Carter (30 goals [tied for second-most in the league]) & Minnesota‘s Dubnyk (32 wins on a .933 save percentage [both best in the NHL] and a 2.01 GAA [second-best in the league], including five shutouts [tied for fourth-most in the NHL]), Granlund (+29 [seventh-best in the league]), Koivu (+30 [sixth-best in the NHL]), Spurgeon (+32 [tied for second-best in the league]), Ryan Suter (+33 [best in the NHL]) and Zucker (+32 [tied for second-best in the league]).

With Minnesota favored -145 by Vegas, I’d be very surprised if the Kings manage to even force overtime this evening. Abysmal might be a compliment for this offense, and it will be made only worse by the overpowering play of Dubnyk. The Wild should continue to fight for the Western lead with relative ease this evening.

Hockey Birthday

  • Braydon Coburn (1985-) – Currently playing his third season in Tampa Bay, this defenseman was originally selected eighth-overall by Atlanta in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Most of his 12-season career was spent in Philadelphia, and he was a member of that 2010 Flyers team that won the Eastern Conference from the seven-seed.
  • Dustin Jeffrey (1988-) – Drafted in the sixth-round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by Pittsburgh, he last appeared in the league with Arizona in the 2015-’16 season.

Twice scoring two goals in a period, the Columbus Blue Jackets took it to the Rangers in Madison Square Garden in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day, winning 5-2.

Only 1:02 into the game, First Star of the Game Alexander Wennberg (David Savard and Oliver Bjorkstrand) got the Jackets‘ attack started with a tip-in tally. Rick Nash (Jimmy Vesey and Derek Stepan) pulled New York back even with his snap shot 3:05 later, but a Second Star Cam Atkinson (Sam Gagner and Zach Werenski) power play snapper at the 6:47 mark once again gave the Blue Jackets a lead. That 2-1 score held into the first intermission.

The same man to strike first in the opening frame took credit for the lone tally of the second. Wennberg’s (Bjorkstrand) 12th goal of the year was a backhanded shot at the 9:47 mark of the period, and proved to be the eventual game-winner.

The Wennberg-Atkinson pattern continued 4:12 into the final frame, as Atkinson (Brandon Dubinsky) buried a snapper to give Columbus a 4-1 lead. With 24 seconds remaining in the game, Josh Anderson (William Karlsson and Scott Hartnell) scored the Jackets‘ final tally of the night, followed by Jesper Fast‘s (Marc Staal and Oscar Lindberg) goal with a second remaining on the clock.

Third Star Sergei Bobrovsky earned the victory after saving 28-of-30 shots faced (93.3%), leaving the loss to Henrik Lundqvist, who saved 21-of-26 (80.8%).

It’s been nine days since a road team in the DtFR Game of the Day series has lost. That incredible streak has given the 69-43-21 visitors an 11-point lead over hosts.

Pearson wins it in Overtime for the Kings, Now Trail in Series 2-1

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-3Los Angeles Kings forward, Tanner Pearson didn’t let anyone wait too long into overtime before he found the back of the net and scored the game winning goal at 3:47 of the overtime period in Game 3 to defeat the San Jose Sharks 2-1 at SAP Center on Monday night.

Jonathan Quick made 29 saves on 30 shots faced for a .967 SV% in the win, while Martin Jones turned aside 22 shots out of 24 shots on goal for a .917 SV% in the loss. Entering Game 3, Quick had a 3.08 GAA and a .870 SV% through Games 1 and 2 thus far. It was the fourth time in the history of all four playoff matchups between the Sharks and the Kings that Game 3 was decided in overtime.

Monday night’s action was also just the sixth overtime playoff game between San Jose and Los Angeles overall, with the Sharks having entered the night 5-1 overall versus the Kings in playoff OT.

Joe Thornton kicked the scoring off early for the Sharks on the game’s first shot on goal, 30 seconds into the first period. Thornton’s first goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs gave San Jose the 1-0 lead and was assisted by Tomas Hertl (1). Thornton’s goal was also the 2nd fastest playoff goal in franchise history for the Sharks, barely missing Dany Heatley’s goal 28 seconds into the action on April 14, 2011. It was also the 2nd game in a row where San Jose scored on their first shot on goal.

Brayden McNabb was sent to the box for hooking Hertl at 5:33 of the first period, but the Sharks were unable to convert on their first power play of the night. Tommy Wingels took a hooking penalty a couple of minutes later at 7:50 of the first to give the Kings their first power play opportunity of the night.

Twenty seconds was all it took for the Kings power play to go to work and for Jake Muzzin to move the puck to Milan Lucic who found Anze Kopitar for the game tying goal at 8:10 of the opening frame of regulation. Kopitar’s goal was his first of the playoffs and just his 2nd point of the series so far, despite having put up 74 points in scoring during the regular season. For Lucic and Muzzin it was their 3rd and 2nd assists respectively on the goal.

Los Angeles’ success on the power play was short lived, though, as they were unable to convert on the rest of their man advantage chances the rest of the night, failing to yield full momentum at 11:50 of the first period on Nick Spaling’s tripping penalty.

By the end of twenty minutes it was 1-1, with the Kings outshooting the Sharks (13-7) and winning faceoffs (17-8), while San Jose led in hits (20-19), giveaways (8-4), takeaways (3-2) and blocked shots (8-5).

Aside from wasted power play opportunities for both teams in the second period, not much happened in the game. The pace had begun to settle in and both Quick and Jones were in their best goaltending matchup of the series thus far.

After forty minutes of play, the score was still 1-1 and the Kings led in shots (19-18), hits (37-30), faceoff wins (28-17) and blocked shots (14-10). The Sharks led in giveaways (14-4) and takeaways (6-3).

UnknownThe third period worked its way slowly through the course of action as Lucic was sent to the box for slashing Justin Braun at 9:40 of the period, which the Sharks failed to convert on the ensuing power play.

Tanner Pearson sent the puck straight over the glass for a delay of game penalty at 14:04 of the period that puck the Kings on the penalty kill, but San Jose was unable to get many pucks on Quick as the Kings PK-unit began to block shots like crazy.

Finally at 19:06 of the third, Hertl and Dustin Brown roughed one another up and were sent to the box with coincidental roughing minors that would carry into overtime, should neither team score before then.

After regulation, the Sharks were leading in shots on goal (27-22), giveaways (16-7) and takeaways (9-4), while the Kings led in hits (56-39), faceoff wins (36-28) and blocked shots (25-17) after 60 minutes of play.

Upon an 18-minute intermission, both teams were raring to go at the commencement of overtime.

It didn’t take long before Pearson beat Jones and found the back of the twine and Vincent Lecavalier and Dustin Brown picked up the assists on the game winning goal that sent San Jose fans at SAP Center unhappily home. Los Angeles had won Game 3 and extending the road team’s winning streak in the series to three games.

After everything, the Sharks led in shots on goal (30-24), giveaways (17-8) and takeaways (11-5), while the Kings led in hits (61-39), faceoff wins (39-30) and blocked shots (27-18). Los Angeles went 1/5 on the night on the power play and San Jose went 0/5.

Of note, Kings forward, Kyle Clifford returned to the lineup for Game 3 and defenseman, Alec Martinez was still out of the lineup with an undisclosed injury. Milan Lucic was also bumped up to the first line for the game, alongside Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. The Sharks lineup was unchanged.

Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday night at SAP Center in San Jose at 10:30 PM EST on USA Network in the United States and CBC as well as TVA Sports in Canada. The Sharks now have a 2-1 series lead heading into Wednesday night on home ice.

Pavelski, Couture, Sharks Up 2-0 in Series Versus Kings

By: Nick Lanciani

UnknownJoe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Martin Jones led the way for the San Jose Sharks to their 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night in Game 2 of their 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One matchup. The Sharks now have a 2-0 series lead, having won both games on the road at Staples Center, before heading home to the SAP Center for Game 3.

Jones made 26 saves on 27 shots against, yielding a .963 SV% en route to the win, while Jonathan Quick made 21 saves on 23 shots faced in the loss with a .913 SV%.

Saturday night was the first game back from injury for Los Angeles Kings forward, Marian Gaborik, while it was the first game that defenseman, Alec Martinez missed with an undisclosed injury. Jamie McBain was inserted on LA’s blueline in Martinez’s place and Gaborik wound his way up in the top-six forwards, while Milan Lucic was bumped down to the Kings’ third line. Game 2 was also San Jose’s 16th consecutive playoff game against Los Angeles.

Pavelski kicked off the scoring at 3:37 of the first period with his 3rd goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pavelski’s tally was assisted by Brent Burns and Joe Thornton and gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead that they would hold until the first intermission.

By the end of twenty minutes of play, San Jose was outshooting Los Angeles 7-5 and leading in blocked shots (7-6), while the Kings were leading in hits (17-16), faceoffs (15-10) and giveaways (5-1). Both teams were tied in takeaways (0-0) and were unsuccessful on the power play (San Jose was 0/2, while Los Angeles was 0/1).

The second period saw more domination of the pace of the game from the Sharks as both teams swapped chances, but Jones and Quick stood tall in goal. Tyler Toffoli and Lucic took penalties at 8:14 of the second period and were sent to the penalty box for roughing and charging, respectively.

Thirty-seconds was all it took for San Jose to score on the ensuing 5-on-3 power play opportunity as Couture found Quick way out of position and was able to snap the puck home with ease. Couture’s goal gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead and was assisted by Pavelski and Patrick Marleau. The Kings were clearly shaken by the goal, but could not find a way to try to take back the momentum that was fully tilted in San Jose’s favor.

Unknown-3What seemed to be a rarity on the night, next occurred with under nine minutes to go in the 2nd. Tommy Wingels was flying up ice on a breakaway and Quick remained square to the shooter, instead of getting out of position— outside of the crease— thereby denying Wingels and providing a huge save in what might have otherwise all but sealed the deal for the Sharks.

San Jose took a couple more penalties as the second period went on at 12:18 (Matt Nieto for hooking) and 18:17 (Nick Spaling for holding), but the Kings were powerless on the power play, unable to convert on either opportunity.

At the end of forty minutes of play, the fans at the Staples Center began to grow restless, with the Sharks beating the home-team Kings, 2-0, and leading in shots on goal (16-14).

San Jose also led in takeaways (2-0) and blocked shots (16-13), while Los Angeles had a 28-16 faceoff win advantage, despite leading in giveaways (6-3). Hits were even at 31-31 and the Sharks were 1/4 on the power play after two, while the Kings were 0/3.

The third period began with a bit of a slow start, but the Kings were starting to press, given that they were down by two and in the final twenty minutes of play, unless they had anything to do about it.

Nick Spaling was sent to the box for tripping Los Angeles defenseman, Drew Doughty, at 10:59 of the 3rd, but once again the Kings were unable to convert on the power play as less than a minute later, Jeff Carter was sent to the penalty box for slashing at 11:28 of the period.

Yet the result of a slashing minor against Melker Karlsson at 14:06 of the third period resulted in a Los Angeles power play that sparked some high intensity desperation back into the game. In a frenzy of bodies and pucks loose in front of the net and with Martin Jones out of position in the crease, Vincent Lecavalier was able to find the puck and send it home with a backhand on the power play at 14:59 of the 3rd.

Lecavalier’s goal cut the Sharks lead in half to 2-1 and was assisted by Jake Muzzin and Tanner Pearson.

With about 90 seconds left in regulation, Kings head coach, Darryl Sutter, pulled Quick for an extra attacker but the effort was ultimately for naught. The Sharks downed the Kings 2-1 on road ice trailing in shots (27-23), hits (47-40), faceoff wins (41-27) and giveaways (14-7) to Los Angeles. San Jose finished the game leading in blocked shots (28-17) and takeaways (2-0). Both teams were 1/5 on the night on the power play.

Jones became the 2nd goalie in Sharks history to win his first 2 career playoff starts— the other being Wade Flaherty on May 17, 1995 and May 19, 1995. Per Elias Sports, San Jose also took a 2-0 series lead in a best-of-7 format via two road wins for the 3rd time in franchise history (with the previous two times being the 1995 Western Conference Quarterfinals and the 2013 Western Conference Quarterfinals).

The series now shifts to the SAP Center in San Jose, California on Monday night at 10:30 PM EST for Game 3 and can been seen on NBCSN nationally in the United States and on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada.

San Jose at Los Angeles – Game 1 – Pavelski and the Sharks steal Game 1

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Who would’ve guessed that a one-goal third period would be the difference in this one?

The first goal was struck after only 2:53, courtesy of Jake Muzzin on a tip-in, assisted by Second Star of the Game Milan Lucic and Tanner Pearson.  After collecting a deflected shot, Lucic was taking the puck behind the net, put a puck into the exposed crease for Muzzin to send home.  Anze Kopitar quickly followed that tally with a trip to the box for interference with 14:14 remaining in the first, which First Star Joe Pavelski capitalized on with a slap shot to level the game.

Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the remaining 13:35, and the game leveled out in that time.  Neither team managed more than eight shots fired (Los Angeles only fired the puck five times), which was further improved by the Sharks‘ five blocks.

The second period was one of power plays, with five being awarded, and three of those penalties against San Jose.  Brent Burns gave San Jose a one-goal lead at the 6:50 mark with a long range slap shot from the face off dot assisted by Third Star Joel Ward, who followed the play by interfering with Dustin Brown.  The lead lasted only 40 seconds before Jeff Carter scored on the ensuing power play.  Muzzin committed a hooking penalty 2:17 after Carter’s goal, giving the Sharks a power play, which they almost capitalized on, but they were hurt by an iffy no-call on a potential Alec Martinez trip on the San Jose shooter.  Trevor Lewis gave the Kings their second lead of the night at the  17:18 mark on a stunning shorthanded roofer of a slap shot, but it lasted only half a minute before Tomas Hertl returned the favor at the completion of Drew Doughty serving his time for hooking Ward.  After all the action, which also included tons of hits, the second period ended three-all.

Only 17 seconds after returning to the ice, Pavelski connected on a wraparound for his second of the night.  Los Angeles certainly upped their pressure in the remaining time, but Martin Jones stood tall to earn the 4-3 victory.

Jones made 21 saves on 24 shots faced (87.5%), while Jonathan Quick takes the loss, saving 19 of 23 (82.6%).

These squads will meet again Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. eastern, which can be viewed on NBCSN, CBC and TVAS.

March 21 – Day 158 – Los Angeles wants to replace Garth Brooks as the King of Country

Even with the four goal offensive explosion in the second period, these squads needed a shootout before Minnesota could earn the 3-2 win.

The first score didn’t find the back of the net until the 20:50 mark, courtesy of Minnesota‘s First Star of the Game Erik Haula, whose snap shot was assisted by Nino Niederreiter (his 22nd helper of the season) and Justin Fontaine, which was just the start of an exciting second period.  Niederreiter gave the Wild an insurance goal 6:14 later, assisted by Jordan Schroeder and Mikael Granlund (his 29th helper of the season).  It was an insurance goal they needed, as Third Star Andrew Shaw, assisted by Artemi Panarin (his 38th helper of the season), scored 1:34 later to pull the Hawks within a goal.  With 6:39 remaining in the period, Richard Panik leveled the game with a fancy wrap-around goal, assisted by Andrew Desjardins and Duncan Keith (his 34th helper of the season).  Neither team was able to score in the remaining time in the period and took their two-all tie into the second intermission and through the third and overtime, leading to a shootout.

Only one attempt found the back of the net, but it was all Minnesota needed.  After Second Star Devan Dubnyk made the save on Jonathan Toews, Charlie Coyle fired the Wild‘s first attempt past Scott Darling.  Dubnyk followed that with a save on Patrick Kane and Panarin to earn the victory.

Dubnyk earns the win after saving 29 of 31 shots faced (93.5%), while Darling takes the shootout loss, saving 32 of 34 (94.1%).

It’s the second straight win for the road teams under our observation, and it sets the DtFR Game of the Day series at 70-41-17, favoring the home squads by 29 points over the roadies.

It’s a light Monday tonight as only four games will be played, starting with Florida at the New York Rangers at 7 p.m. eastern.  Half an hour later, two more games drop the puck (Philadelphia at the New York Islanders [NBCSN/TVAS] and Calgary at Toronto), followed at 8 p.m. eastern by this evening’s nightcap: Los Angeles at Nashville.

Philadelphia at New York is the only divisional rivalry being played this evening, but there are two games between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Florida at New York and Los Angeles at Nashville).

While the FloridaNew York game is important for the Rangers and their efforts to get home ice for the first round, I’m more interested in the preview of the highly probable first round matchup between the Kings and Predators.

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Tonight’s game will be Los Angeles‘ seventh appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 3-3-0 record.  Their most recent game featured was March 9, a 4-3 overtime winner over the visiting Capitals.  Nashville has been featured nine times before this contest, and own a 5-3-1 record in the series, with their most recent being Thursday’s 4-2 victory over the Islanders on home ice.

The 44-22-5 Los Angeles Kings currently rank best in the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference, although a win tonight could change that – more on that later.  To get to that position, the Kings have given up the least goals in the NHL, paired with the 11th best scoring offense.

Led by Alec Martinez’ 168 blocks, the Kings have allowed only 1959 shots to reach 37-17-4 Jonathan Quick and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.2% for only 160 goals against, the fewest in the league.  Although they’ve had overall defensive success, the penalty kill has been barely better than average, neutralizing 81.53% of their infractions for 46 power play goals against, only the 14th best rate in the league.

Led by Jeff Carter’s 199 shots, Los Angeles has fired the puck 2274 times, but only 8.5% have found the back of the net for 196 goals (led by Tyler Toffoli’s 26 tallies), 11th most in the league.  The special team that really takes the cake in the City of Angels is the power play, as their 21.05% success rate, good for 44 power play goals, ranks seventh best in the NHL.

The Kings come into tonight’s game riding a four game winning streak, with their most recent being Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Bruins on home ice.  With a win this evening, Los Angeles would not only pull themselves into a tie with the Stars, but also win the games played tiebreaker to take the lead in the Western Conference.

The 36-23-13 Nashville Predators currently occupy fourth in the Central Division and seventh in the Western Conference, qualifying them for the first wildcard spot.  To get to that position, they’ve played an incredibly well-rounded game, playing both the 10th best offense and defense.  A more in-depth analysis of Nashville‘s game can be found within Thursday’s article.

Nashville‘s last game was Friday, a 4-1 loss in Washington.  A win tonight by the Predators would pull them within four points of the Blackhawks with a couple weeks left in the regular season.

As it stands right now, Los Angeles would host Nashville in a Western Conference Quarterfinal, although a Kings win this evening would completely alter that.  Los Angeles has already won the season series 2-0-0, but both previous games ended in overtime.  These squads last met February 20 on this surface, with both teams scoring a lone goal in regulation before Tanner Pearson earned the Kings the bonus point.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Los Angeles‘ Drew Doughty (+23 [tied for ninth best in the league]), Anze Kopitar (+31 [tied for league lead] and 65 points [10th most in the league]), Milan Lucic (+23 [tied for ninth best in the league]), Quick (37 wins [second most in the league], 2.14 GAA [fourth best in the league] and four shutouts [tied for sixth most in the league]) and Toffoli (+30 [third best in the league]) & Nashville‘s Pekka Rinne (four shutouts [tied for sixth most in the league] and 29 wins [tied for ninth most in the league]).

The season series is a good indication of how well these two squads match up against each other.  That being said, I’m expecting the Kings‘ defense to lead them to yet another victory over the Predators and the conference lead.