Tag:Justin Williams
Posted on: December 12, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 11:02 am
 

Report: Kings prepping to fire coach Terry Murray

By Brian Stubits

There have already been four coaches fired this season in the NHL. According to the L.A. Times a fifth could be coming this week.

The report in the Times says the Kings are preparing to fire coach Terry Murray. There is no replacement lined up, so the job would likely go to assistant John Stevens on an interim basis.

At no point were the Kings expected to be fourth in their own division -- which has been subpar as a whole -- and 12th in the Western Conference. Moreover, even with the defensive style that Murray runs, the Kings really have no business being the worst team in the league at scoring. Their 2.24 goals per game is the lowest in the NHL, even below Anaheim.

An offensive cast of Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Simon Gagne, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll and Dustin Penner supported by Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson should be scoring more. Jonathan Quick can only stop so many shots.

Here is what Brown told the Times over the weekend about the way the team has been playing of late.

"We have to be more desperate right now. We have to be more desperate the rest of the year," Brown said Saturday. "We aren't playing with enough intensity or enough desperation. We are a good team and now we are not playing like one."

That never is a ringing endorsement for a coach. Fair or not, players not playing up to their potential will always fall on the bench boss' shoulders. We've seen it a few times already this season. When a team isn't living up to its potential -- or at least the potential that everybody thinks they have -- it's going to be time for the coach to go.

Fair or not, that's the way it works in sports. It's funny to me that in most professions, if the employees aren't getting the job done, it's them who will be fired. Obviously the world of contracts and high-priced ones at that alter the dynamics, so the manager takes the fall.

Adding to the confounding nature of L.A.'s start, so far they have only played 11 road games compared to 18 at home. You wouldn't figure that bodes too well for a team that would like to catch up in the standings.

But the good news for any new coach that takes over in the case Murray is fired? Despite being 12th place in the Western Conference, the Kings are only three points behind the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes for the Pacific Division lead. That doesn't fit anybody's definition of insurmountable.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 11, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 5:36 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Ducks searching for wakeup call

By Brian Stubits

Weekend schedule: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

You know it's bad when we're still early in November and the Anaheim Ducks call a closed-doors meeting. It stinks almost as much as the Avalanche calling Thursday's tilt against the Islanders a "must-win game." They did, barely (4-3 in OT).

But desperate times call for desperate measures. And right now, things are getting close to desperate in Orange County. The Ducks are the coldest team in hockey having lost six in a row. In a world without the overtime loser point, Anaheim is 5-10. That is not good.

"You have to eliminate any confusion, any doubt before you can take the next step forward," Carlyle said about the meeting.

"A lot of times coaches are talking and nobody says a word and you go to the ice and say, 'Well, I don't think that's work[ing]," Teemu Selanne offered. "It's important that the players can give their input also about the situation. It was really good. It was really honest conversations. I think it was a huge step forward."

They better get things figured out quickly. With Dallas playing as well as it is and San Jose in the division, the Ducks could dig themselves a hole too tough to get out of. They have the fewest goals scored and the most goals surrendered in the Pacific Division. In 15 games they have 29 goals, that's less than two goals per game.

How can a team with Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Selanne be struggling to score this much? Well presumably that's what the closed-door meeting was for.

I can't help but think it's the lack of power of the mustache. Since the month of Movember came around and the Ducks all began growing out their best 'staches, the team hasn't won a game. This is making me rethink my entire stance on the world. Here I was holding the mustache in such high esteem.

Or maybe it could be more rationally explained by figuring out where Lubomir Visnovsky has gone? The defenseman who had 18 goals and 50 assists last season has just four points (1-3=4) in 15 games and is a minus-9. Him finding his game would go a long way in helping the Ducks remove the ugly from their game.

So who do they get to try their presumably new tactics against first? How about the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night? Just the team for a struggling squad to face (the still-not-invented sarcasm font was on there).

But that's not all for the weekend. On Sunday the Ducks welcome the last team they beat, the Minnesota Wild. Of course since that win, these two teams have flipped their fortunes. The Ducks have become the coldest team this side of Columbus while Minnesota has been red hot.

SoCal struggles, Part II: This was supposed to be the season the Los Angeles Kings stepped forward, made a run for the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship. It obviously still could be, the season is only a short way in. But right now they could use a swift kick in the rear to get in gear.

Los Angeles has followed a 5-1-1 start with a 2-5-2 stretch, including a five-game losing streak that has people wondering if the boot isn't being polished up before delivering the kick. After all, the Kings have not scored more than three goals in 13 of their 16 games. For a team that acquired an offensive talent like Mike Richards to go with a solid group already, that's not going to cut it.

"The offense, certainly myself at the top of the list, should be scoring more, getting to the net," Justin Williams said following Thursday's loss.

So do you put the blame for the struggling stretch on coach Terry Murray? After all, head coaches are always the first scapegoat. I find it hard to blame Murray. He's trying all that he can, mixing and matching the lines to try and create a spark. But as they always say, you can't really fire the players. I mean you can, but it's a lot more difficult.

One of the issues right now is the play of Jonathan Quick. Remember that shutout streak back in October? That's a thing of the past. In his last six starts, Quick has zero wins. He is giving up nearly three goals per game in that stretch.

About the only thing going well right now for L.A. is the play of Drew Doughty. His game has been on point recently with five points in the last three games.

Like their SoCal neighbors in the O.C., the chance to get on the right track will come against the Wild, Saturday night at Staples Center. Oh, Minnesota enters the game having won five of the last six.

What the ....? You know who's not struggling? The first-place Florida Panthers. Yes, you read that right, first-place Panthers.

Dale Tallon threw together a team that everybody anticipated would struggle to jell, but it came together like jell-o. The Panthers have tallied a point in six consecutive games, including back-to-back wins on the road in Toronto and Winnipeg.

If they want to make it seven straight, they will have to get through the Flyers, who are in Sunrise on Sunday.

This is where I'd like to spread a little love on Kris Versteeg, the forward who is on his fourth team in a two-year span -- the one before the Panthers being the Flyers. He has apparently found the right fit and is scoring at a pace of better than a point per game, leading the Cats with 17 points in 15 games. Brian Campbell hasn't been too shabby either with 15 points in 15 games.

The surprises are all around on one of the NHL's biggest surprises this season. Jason Garrison is a sniper from the blue line? Who knew? But he's tied with Nicklas Lidstrom in the NHL lead for goals among defensemen with six. Jose Theodore can still be effective as a No. 1 goalie? Just talk to the folks in the Washington press box to see how hard that is to believe.

There's no telling how long this will last. First place in a division with the Capitals is asking a lot. But with a start like this, they can at least dream of ending that 10-year playoff drought in Florida.

Texas two-step: Want to know if the Dallas Stars are really as good as their 11-3-0 record indicates? Other than the fact that you are what your record says you are, as Bill Parcells would say, the Stars are in the midst of about as tough a three-game road stretch you can conjure up in the NHL.

They already went through the Capitals, handing them their first loss in D.C. this season. Now they have back-to-back games starting Friday in Pittsburgh. The game was viewed as a potential return date for Sidney Crosby, but that's not happening now. However it is still the top two teams in each conference and James Neal vs. the team that traded him.

If that's not enough, Dallas will take the trip to Detroit where the Red Wings await on Saturday.

I'm not sure how many more tests the Stars have to pass before this start and this team is believed to be for real by the masses. It might be already. I know I'm a believer. But just to be safe, a few more points in this weekend double-dip couldn't hurt.

The Bruins got their groove back: It only took a month, but now the Boston Bruins are showing the form the hockey world expected. After all, ask Boston fans and they will tell you last season was just a whole heaping of bonus -- this was the season when they were expected to be legitimate Cup contenders.

The team that in the early going couldn't score now can't stop scoring. Especially in bunches. Five times in the month of November the Bruins scored two goals within 49 seconds of one another. Five times!

Without a doubt, the most impressive player has been Tyler Seguin. The sophomore is showing why there was such a debate between himself and Taylor Hall before the 2010 draft. He is so quick and always seem to get his stick on the puck near the net.

The above items considered, it should come then as no surprise that the Bruins have won four games in a row and are streaking into their game against Northeast Division foe Buffalo.

The question there is which Sabres goalie will be entrusted with slowing down this now potent Bruins attack? That’s the question every day now in Buffalo where at the moment -- and I stress at the moment -- the goaltending job is a 50/50 proposition between Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth. If Miller gets the call, it could be a tough situation to find a slump-busting performance.

Defense rules

The Tampa Bay defense, specifically the 1-3-1 trap that coach Guy Boucher loves to use, is the topic of the week in the NHL. The crux of the issue: people want to see more scoring, less stalling.

If that describes you, maybe you should find something else to do on Saturday night when the Lightning and St. Louis Blues meet. Offense might not be too plentiful.

With Ken Hitchcock now on the St. Louis bench and his preference to play a defensive-minded game, it could be a pretty slow and plodding game. Nothing as bad as the scene on Wednesday night, but still not offense friendly. In the two games under Hitchcock, the Blues have given up two goals.

Of course after all this you can now expect for the teams to hit the over.

Photo: US Presswire

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 11:59 pm
 

Report: Hunter gets tryout with Kings

Hunter

By: Adam Gretz

After the New York Islanders traded him to the New Jersey Devils this summer in exchange for Brian Rolston, a move that had very different salary cap intentions for the two teams, Trent Hunter had his contract bought out, making him a free agent. As of Tuesday evening the veteran forward will reportedly be a part of his third organization in the past three months, agreeing to a tryout contract with the Los Angeles Kings according to Katie Strang of ESPN New York and Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register.

Injuries have really limited Hunter in recent years, appearing in just 133 of a possible 246 games, scoring 26 goals over that stretch. For his career he's scored 99 goals, all of which have come with the Islanders after he was acquired by the team back in May of 2000 from the Anaheim Ducks for a draft pick.

The July trade that sent Hunter to the Devils helped the Islanders reach the salary cap floor due to Rolston's sizable contract, while the deal, and eventual buyout of Hunter, helped New Jersey save a few million in cap space under the cap ceiling.

If Hunter earns a spot in training camp he'll likely be a bottom-six winger/penalty killer, as the the Kings top lines would seem to be set with players like Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Simon Gagne and Dustin Penner. Earlier in the offseason the Kings added some depth to their bottom lines when they signed Ethan Moreau to a one-year deal.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: March 28, 2011 10:11 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Kings' Anze Kopitar to have ankle surgery



Los Angeles Kings forward Azne Kopitar will reportedly undergo surgery to repair torn ligaments caused by a high ankle sprain suffered Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche

Coach Terry Murray initially told reporters that Kopitar had a broken ankle that would keep the Kings’ top scorer out six weeks. (Here’s a look at the play where Kopitar was injured.) The diagnois apparently changed after an MRI Monday revealed more damage that will keep Kopitar off the ice until the middle of the summer, according Rich Hammond of lakingsinsider.com

Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. 

"It's just going to be a good test for this young hockey club,” Murray told the website. "We'll be better when we come through it. There's no question about it. Guys are going to be in a higher situation, more important situation, and they'll grow immensely through this opportunity."

The Kings are already without Justin Williams, who could miss the rest of the season after he separated his shoulder a week ago. That leaves the Kings minus their two top scorers heading into the stretch run.  

-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Associated Press
Posted on: March 26, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2011 8:21 pm
 

Kings' Anze Kopitar breaks ankle in win



The Los Angeles Kings are now without their two top scorers for several weeks.

Center Anze Kopitar broke his ankle during the Kings' 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Kopitar got his skate caught on the ice as he battled along the boards with Avs defenseman Ryan O'Byrne. (A replay of the injury is below.)  As he lost his balance, Kopitar's lower leg twisted awkwardly and he was unable to get up on his own. 

King coach Terry Murray told reporters that Kopitar would be out at least six weeks. 

"He's our best player. We’ve got to find a way either way," Kings captain Dustin Brown told Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times. "Injuries happen during the year. You don’t want to have your best player go down, but if that’s the case, we’ve got to shoulder the responsibility collectively and find a way because no other team is going to feel sorry for us.

"It’s an opportunity for someone else to step up. It’s going to be tough to match Kopi’s play both defensively and offensively, and we’ve got to find a way. The staple of our game is defense, and he’s a big part of that when he’s on the ice. Ultimately it’s a five-man, six-man game for us."

Kopitar was assisted off the ice and went straight to the dressing room after the injury. He's scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday. He shares the team lead in goals with Brown (25) and leads in assists (48).

Justin Williams, second on the team in scoring, separated his shoulder in a game against the Calgary Flames on Sunday, an injury that could mean the end of his season



-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 22, 2011 5:03 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 5:23 pm
 

Kings' Justin Williams could be done for season



The Los Angeles Kings will be without the services of Justin Williams for the rest of the regular season, although some reports claim that the 29-year-old forward won't be back for the playoffs either. 

Kings coach Terry Murray told reporters Tuesday that Williams could return in three to four weeks if his recovery from a shoulder separation goes well, according to Rich Hammond of lakingsinsider.com. He suffered the injury via a check from Calgary's Robyn Regehr during Monday's game. Williams will attempt to rehab the shoulder before he opts for surgery. 

TSN.ca and ESPNLosAngeles.com report, citing unnamed sources, that Williams is through for the season. 

Williams, who won the Stanley Cup as a member of Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, is second the Kings in goals (22) and has 35 assists. He recently signed a four-year contract extension worth $14.6 million. 

The Kings recalled Oscar Moller from the club’s AHL affiliate to take Williams’ spot on the roster. 

-- A.J .Perez

Photo Getty Images
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com