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LA Kings Have Re-Discovered “Kings Hockey,” Perhaps Just In The Nick Of Time

AUDIO: Includes audio of media interviews with Matt Greene, Jake Muzzin and head coach Darryl Sutter after practice on Feburary 23, 2015.


LA Kings defenseman Matt Greene, shown here during a recent practice.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — After winning seven straight games to move themselves, for at least one day, anyway, into third place in the Pacific Division, the Los Angeles Kings are firing on all cylinders, and as previously reported in this space, they’re doing it by playing Kings Hockey, a term used by the players off and on since last season.

Kings Hockey is when they smother opposing teams in the defensive zone, recovering pucks and breaking out quickly from their zone. That allows the Kings to generate speed through the neutral zone on attack. That speed is critical to their ability to beat opposing defensemen to loose pucks deep in the attacking zone, allowing them to get in on the forecheck, and create scoring chances off of that.

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Despite Predicament, LA Kings See Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Los Angeles Kings forward Justin Williams, shown here
during a recent practice.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — With a 2-3-0 record on their annual Grammy road trip, the Los Angeles Kings came up well short of what they needed to do, given their precarious position in the standings.

Despite that, ending the trip with two wins is something they can and hope to build on.

“We were able to salvage a road trip,” said right wing Justin Williams. “It could’ve gotten really ugly.”

“It seems like we’re a team that puts itself in a lot of holes,” added Williams. “We’ve put ourselves in a big one now, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. We see it. We’ve won a couple of games, and we know if we win the next few, we’re right back in the mix of making the playoffs. But the hardest part is getting in, and we’ve got to make sure we do that in order to defend [as Stanley Cup Champions].”

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Is LA Kings Rookie D Brayden McNabb Finding His Game Just In The Nick Of Time?

LA Kings rookie defenseman Brayden McNabb (right), shown here during a recent practice with Martin Jones
in goal and forward Andy Andreoff (left) just barely in the picture.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

 

EL SEGUNDO AND LOS ANGELES, CA — Rookie defenseman Brayden McNabb was in his coaches’ doghouse.

Indeed, he was a healthy scratch in four of the Los Angeles Kings’ last seven games, and in three straight games prior to returning to the lineup on January 10, in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets at Staples Center in Los Angeles. But the 23-year-old, 6-4, 208-pound native of Davidson, Saskatchewan took quite the leap forward on January 12, and perhaps just in the nick of time, helping the Kings shutout the Toronto Maple Leafs, 2-0, at Staples Center.

Against the Maple Leafs, McNabb played what was, arguably, his best game of the season with solid positional play, smart reads, good, quick decisions and strong physical play.

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You Might Be Wondering, “What Now,” But Not The LA Kings

LA Kings center prospect Nick Shore, shown here with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Blake Gumprecht

EL SEGUNDO AND LOS ANGELES, CA — After losing right wing Tyler Toffoli to mononucleosis, seeing left wing Tanner Pearson slide, feet first, into the end boards, suffering a fractured fibula, and knowing that the Los Angeles Kings are not playing well in their own zone, many are probably wondering…

What now?

But the Kings are not asking that question, at least, not publicly.

“It hurts losing those guys,” said defenseman Jake Muzzin. “They bring a lot of energy and a lot of offensive ability, but we’ve got other guys who can step up, no problem.”

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It’s Time For LA Kings To Back Up Words With Action, Results

LA Kings defenseman Alec Martinez
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO AND LOS ANGELES, CA — One look at the National Hockey League standings will instantly tell you that the Los Angeles Kings are currently in the Western Conference playoff picture. But they will also show that they are just about as close to being out of playoff contention as they are to being in the thick of it.

On January 8, the Kings will play their 41st game of the season (against the New York Rangers, 7:30 PM, Staples Center), the halfway mark, and given their precarious playoff position, the time is now for them to back up their words with action and results, something they’re well aware of.

“We really need to turn it around quickly here,” said defenseman Drew Doughty. “We’re not happy with how we’re playing. It’s halfway through the season, and we’re just barely in a playoff spot. We want to have a lot more ground in front of other teams.”

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