Unless Dean Lombardi’s Middle Name Is “Houdini,” 2013-14 LA Kings Will Look At Least A Bit Different

LA Kings defenseman Slava Voynov is expected
to receive a pretty hefty raise in a
new contract this summer.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

EL SEGUNDO, CA — After the Los Angeles Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship, President/General Manager Dean Lombardi made good on his promise to bring back all of his players back for the 2013 National Hockey League season, giving them a solid chance to defend their championship.

One year later, the Kings advanced as far as the Western Conference Final, but only to be stopped in their tracks by the Chicago Blackhawks. But now, Lombardi is faced with that same challenge of trying to keep his team intact.

But can he? A huge obstacle in his path is the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which calls for a $64.3 million salary cap in 2013-14, considerably lower than the current $70.2 million.

“It’s unfortunate, the way this Collective Bargaining Agreement worked for us,” Lombardi lamented. “One of the by-products of going slowly was to be able to build this thing, and keep it together. We were clearly on that path, with $6 million in cap space this year, and we brought the whole team back.”

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Frozen Royalty Video: LA Kings Edged In Shootout At Anaheim, 4-3

ANAHEIM, CA — Corey Perry scored a breakaway goal and another in the shootout to lead the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings in front of a standing-room only crowd of 18,494 fans at Honda Center in Anaheim on April 7.

Ducks forwards Kyle Palmieri opened the scoring at 2:54 of the first period after Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr was unable to clear the zone along the left wing boards. Ducks forward Matt Beleskey got the puck to Palmieri, who skated past Kings left wing Jordan Nolan, who got caught flat-footed. Palmieri went in alone on Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who made the initial save. But the puck hit Palmieri’s skate, and bounced into the net.

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LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi Is Cautiously Optimistic About Young Defensive Corps – VIDEO

LA Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin.
(click to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

EL SEGUNDO, CA — With injuries to stay-at-home defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell to start the abbreviated 2013 season—Greene played in just the first game of the season, while Mitchell has not seen action yet this year—things have certainly not gone according to the plan for the Los Angeles Kings.

“You’ve seen the way we had planned this,” said Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi. “If you look at last year, we had a stopper with a puck mover, and obviously, that’s what we lost in Greene and Mitchell.”

Indeed, last season, the Kings had Rob Scuderi paired with Drew Doughty, Mitchell with Slava Voynov, and Alec Martinez with Greene. As Lombardi described, each defensive pair had a stay-at-home guy and a puck mover.

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LA Kings’ Darryl Sutter Issues More Challenges To Defense, Goaltenders

LA Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

EL SEGUNDO, CA — While many have pointed to a lack of goal scoring as an area of major concern for the Los Angeles Kings, head coach Darryl Sutter knows better.

In fact, Sutter isn’t even talking about his team’s offensive attack. Instead, he is primarily focused on defense and goaltending, given the fact that veteran blue liners Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell are out of the lineup, and now, Alec Martinez will be out for at least one week.

“It was just an innocent play [on] his second shift,” Sutter said, describing the play in which Martinez was injured. “[It was] nothing, just a real, easy play. He just got banged.”

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LA Kings Defenseman Keaton Ellerby Will Need To Get The Lay Of The Land Quickly

LA Kings defenseman Keaton Ellerby, shown here speaking to the media
following practice on February 13,
2013, at the Toyota Sports Center
in El Segundo, California.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Despite being acquired by the Los Angeles Kings just five days ago, defenseman Keaton Ellerby already seems like a Southern California native, at least a little bit, anyway.

“I went down for lunch in Hermosa [Beach] with [defenseman Jake] Muzzin and [right wing Jordan] Nolan, and then just waited around,” Ellerby said, describing what he did during the Kings’ day off on February 12. “I picked up some sushi last night, checked the beach out…”

Sounds a lot like what the locals might do on a day off, right? Not so fast, at least, not in this case, anyway.

“I toured around a little bit yesterday,” said Ellerby. “It’s going to take awhile to get used to everything, and all traffic, stuff like that.”

Ellerby started the day off getting some much needed extra rest.

“I kind of slept in,” said the 24-year-old, 6-5, 217-pound native of Strathmore, Alberta. “I came in, and did the whole tour of the [Kings practice] facility yesterday.”

After that, it was time to get the lay of the land…

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