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Dean Lombardi: Anze Kopitar Must Learn To Handle Success

LOMBARDI ON KOPITAR: Los Angeles Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi talks about his star center, Anze Kopitar, and his struggles this season after starting the year on fire. Part 2 of a series. Look for part 3 early next week.


LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings started the 2009-10 season on fire, as did center Anze Kopitar.

The Kings were scoring goals in bunches, as the line of left wing Ryan Smyth, right wing Justin Williams and Kopitar were torching just about every opponent they faced.

Kopitar was largely responsible for that, as he opened the season on a serious tear with fourteen goals and seventeen assists for 31 points in the team’s first 21 games (October 3 – November 14, 2009).

Indeed, with Smyth going hard for loose pucks and consistently parking himself in front of the opposition’s net, Kopitar found himself with more room to maneuver in the offensive zone, giving him more scoring chances.

But it was much more than Smyth that made Kopitar the scoring terror that he was early in the season.

Off-season conditioning and strength work added muscle and endurance to Kopitar’s 6-3, 222-pound frame. That gave him more speed and power to get past defenders and to help him win more loose puck battles. Read more of this post

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Los Angeles Kings: A Mixed Bag After Two Games

LOS ANGELES — Two games into the 2009-10 season, the Los Angeles Kings are right where most everyone expected them to be, sporting a 1-1-0 record.

But that did not happen, to coin a phrase, according to Hoyle.

Indeed, the Kings were expected to easily defeat the bankrupt, owner-less Phoenix Coyotes on October 3 and then lose three days later to the class of the Pacific Division, the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Kings looked more like the Keystone Kops than a National Hockey League team in an embarrassing 6-3 loss to the Coyotes and then turned right around and defeated the Sharks on October 6, 6-4.

Against the Coyotes, one word describes the Kings’ performance.

Disastrous. Read more of this post

2008-09 NHL Playoffs – Joe Thornton: Too Little, Too Late…Again

LOS ANGELES — When San Jose Sharks superstar center Joe Thornton dropped the gloves with Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf just two seconds into Game 6 of their Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series, it was too little, too late.

Thornton, who scored just one goal and contributed four assists in the six-game series, failed to show any fight in his game until it was too late, helping lead his team down the drain, losing the series in six games.

The Sharks have a reputation of being playoff busts, failing to get out of the second round in four straight seasons. This is also a team that reached the Western Conference Finals in 2003-04 and has been among the elite teams in the conference since then. Read more of this post

The Hard Is What Makes It Great: Sharks: 2, Kings: 1

LOS ANGELES — In the 1992 movie, A League Of Their Own, about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that played during World War II when Major League Baseball was shut down temporarily, there is a scene where Geena Davis, who played Rockford Peaches star catcher Dottie Hinson, leaves the team to return home to Oregon with her husband, who had just returned from duty in Europe.

In that scene, Tom Hanks, who played former Major League star and Peaches manager Jimmy Dugan, tells Davis that she will miss playing for the team. When Davis denies it and tells Hanks that her situation became too hard to deal with, Hanks replied, in part, “…the hard is what makes it great.”

Fast forward to 2008 and that phrase is being applied to the Los Angeles Kings, who dropped a 2-1 decision to the white-hot San Jose Sharks in front of an announced crowd of 16,784 fans at Staples Center on Tuesday night. Read more of this post

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