Tag:San Jose Sharks Los Angeles Kings
Posted on: April 24, 2011 3:44 am

Niemi stumbles, yanked for second time in series

Antti Niemi at least mixed in a save before his latest playoff letdown.

The San Jose Sharks goalie who allowed the first two shots on goal get to the back of the net in Game 3 earlier in the week stopped one of the first three shots he saw in Game 5 Saturday night. Niemi eventually allowed three goals on four shots and was pulled after 8 minutes, 42 seconds.

While he was solid in Game 4 and he’s one of two goalies in the playoffs with a Stanley Cup title to his credit (Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury is the other), Contra Costa Times columnist Gary Peterson writes that it’s time for a change in net:
Instead of being able to shrug off Niemi's bad night by extolling his ability to rebound from adversity, coach Todd McLellan is faced with a decision that was unthinkable five games ago.

He needs to switch goalies.

Yes, Niemi was nails in the last half of the regular season, playing at the top of his game, and playing almost every game. Yes, he was helping the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship last year at this time.

That's old news as of Saturday night, when Niemi turned in his third sketchy effort in five starts.

"We came out, and we (stunk) from the start," Logan Couture said. "That's as simple as I can put it. Everyone made mistakes. You can't pin it on one guy."

That's what a good teammate says. But the brutal truth is, one man's mistakes stood out.

Antero Nittimaki didn’t allow a goal as he faced 18 shots in relief as the Kings earned a 3-1 victory Saturday. (He also earned the victory as he replaced Niemi in Game 3 as the Sharks posted a four-goal comeback to win 6-5 in OT.) But CSN Bay Area (and CBSSports.com contributor) Ray Ratto reports that McLellan didn’t sound as concerned as who’s in net as the skaters in front of them:

“The first one (by Wayne Simmonds) comes off a hell of a deflection,” McLellan said, reviewing the nails in his team’s crest. “The second one (by Kyle Clifford), he makes a great save off a 2-on-1 that shouldn’t exist (turnover by Dan Boyle), and the third one (by Dustin Penner), he’s a little deep in his net, and he knows that.”

But then he added a subtler but more damaging assessment, one that can’t be fixed by exchanging a Finn (Antero Niittymaki) for a Finn (Niemi).

“We have six (defensemen) dressed who are better than they showed tonight,” he said. “I probably don’t have to tell them, but I will remind them of that.”

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images

Posted on: April 22, 2011 2:14 am
Edited on: April 22, 2011 5:42 am

Murray: Heatley's trip in third period 'gutless'

LOS ANGELES --- Los Angeles Kings coach Terry Murray called  San Jose Sharks forward Dany Heatley's actions “gutless” minutes after his squad fell 6-3 in Game 4 of the first-round series at Staples Center on Thursday. 

Murray took issue with Heatley’s trip of Kings defenseman Alec Martinez that occurred with about three minutes left in the third period. Heatley was called for a tripping minor, although Murray said it was actually a slew foot – the act of using a leg or skate to kick another player’s legs out from underneath him. 

“That’s a very dangerous play,” Murray said. “That’s where you break your leg. That’s where you blow your knee out. I hate that play. That’s a gutless move in my mind. You just don’t do that in hockey.”

Slew-footing can result in a major penalty, an ejection and can subject a player to fine or suspension; the act can also be reviewed under the league’s supplementary discipline guidelines even if it's not called duirng the game.

San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who spoke to reporters immediately after Muray’s news conference, said he couldn’t comment on the alleged incident since he hadn’t seen the replay. 

And Murray wasn't done talking about Sharks players and penalties. 

He credited Sharks forward Scott Nichol for drawing Kings defenseman Drew Doughty into a coincidental rouging minor penalty in the second period. (Replays showed that Nichol was upset after a near knee-on-knee collision.) Ryane Clowe and Jason Demers scored on the ensuing 4-on-4 as the Sharks took a 2-0 lead. 

“You can’t lose Doughty to Nichol,” Murray said. “Give him credit. He’s the reason they won tonight. . . . You just don’t want to lose your top defenseman to a player of that stature.”

Doubt that was a knock on Nichol’s 5-foot-9 frame. Nichol is a fourth-line center with no points in the series. Nichol also drew a double minor when Kings defenseman Matt Greene clipped him with a high stick. Clowe scored his second goal of the game on the power play. 

--- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 21, 2011 5:31 am
Edited on: April 21, 2011 5:55 am

Can Kings regroup from Game 3 breakdown?

LOS ANGELES --- The man who capped the most dramatic playoff comeback in NHL history tried to put one of the game’s biggest collapses in perspective.

“Sometimes you need a little bit of a slap,” said Daryl Evans, who scored the game-winning goal in OT as the Los Angeles Kings overcame a 5-0 deficit in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers in 1982’s Miracle on Manchester. “You hate to say you need a wake-up call in the middle part of April in the playoffs, but sometimes you need that. I think the Kings have been a resilient team all year.”

Exactly how resilient is the question as the Kings take on San Jose Sharks at Staples Center for Game 4 of the first-round series tonight. The Sharks became the fourth team in playoff history to overcome a deficit of four or more goals on Tuesday en route to 6-5 overtime victory. 

“The bottom line, in the playoffs, is that we embarrassed ourselves,” Kings coach Terry Murray told reporters (via Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider). “We played a terrible game. Now what you have to do is, how do you deal with that kind of performance? We have to bounce back (Thursday) and we have to play our best game. It’s as simple as that.”

Evans, a broadcaster with the Kings for more than a decade, said it was fairly clear Los Angeles went away from their game plan that not only resulted in a 4-0 victory in Game 2, but a 4-0 lead early in the second period of Game 3. 

“They chased the puck,” Evans said. “That’s not the way the Kings usually play. Terry Murray has them very structured defensively, but they started to chase the puck and chase the game. . . . You have to give San Jose a lot of credit. They could have packed it in early and they didn’t. That goes to show you the experience they have and the veteran players they have.”

Now, it’ll be up to Drew Doughty, Dustin Penner, Dustin Brown and the other Kings players can get past Tuesday’s defeat. A victory tonight, while it won’t erase what happened Tuesday, will get the series back up to the Bay Area tied 2-2. 

"I think we learned our lesson. I'd like to believe we have," Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell told The Los Angeles Times.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 20, 2011 3:27 am
Edited on: April 20, 2011 5:55 am

The other side of Miracle on Manchester

LOS ANGELES ---Miracle on Manchester meet Failure on Figueroa.

Twenty-nine years after Marcel Dionne and the Los Angeles Kings in those purple and gold jerseys overcame a five-goal deficit against the Edmonton Oilers, the Kings returned the favor --- or at least very close to it. Long gone from their Forum digs on Manchester Avenue in nearby Inglewood, the Staples Center here on Figueroa Street was the site of a four-goal collapse, or comeback depending on your viewpoint. 

Devin Setoguchi shoveled the puck into the net three minutes into overtime to seal a 6-5 victory for the San Jose Sharks Tuesday, a game the rival Bay Area team trailed 4-0 at one point. It was the fourth time in NHL history a team has overcome a deficit of four or more goals in the playoffs and the first time in 26 years. 

“It was crazy,” Setoguchi said. “Before the game, I was looking at the TV and it was a ‘History will be made” commercial. It was the 5-0 (Kings) comeback. So, that it was kind of ironic we came back from 4-0 tonight. I give these guys a lot of credit. We worked hard.”

There was certainly a commercial in there somewhere. It’ll just be a little grating for the Kings, who looked like they were 40 minutes away from easing to a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 first-round series.  Up 3-0 after the first period, Kings forward Bard Richardson chased Sharks goalie Antti Niemi with a marker 44 seconds into the second period. (Niemi allowed four goals on 10 shots.) 

In came Antero Niittymaki, who hadn’t seen a playoff game in five years, and Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said afterward there was still plenty of time left.

“We were talking and the feeling was that we were going to (come back),” Pavelksi said. “We just wanted to keep it simple and stay together. We talked about how much we needed to rely one another out there.”

Patrick Marleau, Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture scored 10 minutes apart and suddenly it was a 4-3 Kings lead. And the momentum didn’t sway after Ryan Smyth made it 5-3 as the Sharks answered with another Clowe tally followed by Pavelksi’s equalizer with 31 seconds left in the period. 

“That’s as bad as it gets in the second period for sure,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. 

Five goals in one period and the Sharks had the momentum and another promising season may have been salvaged from another postseason disappointment. 

“You could feel it on the bench,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “The more we did it, the more we believed it could happen. It ended up on our favor.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 16, 2011 3:41 pm

Sharks' White eyes a Game 3 return

San Jose Sharks defenseman Ian White told reporters Saturday that he hopes to be back in action by Game 3 of the first-round series. 

White was concussed after he absorbed a check from Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll on Thursday. Stoll was suspended by the NHL for one-game Friday, although no penalty was called at the time of the collision. 

 “It’s fortunate that it’s not going to knock me out for the rest of the postseason, and hopefully I’ll miss just this one game,” White said (via CSN California’s Brodie Brazil). 

White said he will undergo more tests under the league’s protocol standards. 

“If it goes good I’ll probably take some time out there on the ice,” White added. 

The series between the in-state rivals cotninues tonight. Game 3 is Tuesday at Staple Center. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 14, 2011 11:38 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 3:04 am

Could Kings's Stoll be in line for suspension?

Jarret Stoll may become the latest Los Angeles Kings forward forced out of the lineup, although it won't be by injury. 

Stoll elbowed San Jose Sharks defenseman Ian White with 25 seconds left in the first period, a hit that sent White's head off the glass and left him wobbly.  White, who had a bloody nose, was assisted to the locker room by the Sharks' medical staff, likely to a dark, quiet room mandated by new concussion guidelines.

Here's a look at the hit:

Stoll was not called for a penalty on the collision, although that may not be the end of it.

"I don't like it," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun. "I didn't like it the first time around, and I don't like it on the replay."

LeBrun reports league officials in Toronto were reviewing the play.

"They should," said Boyle. "I don't know that Stoll is that kind of a guy but that's exactly what we're talking about and trying to eliminate (from the game). The guy's head is this far from the boards and you drive your forearm and elbow in there? That's what they're trying to get rid of. I didn't like it." 

Stoll said there was no intent to injury on the play, The Associated Press reports.

"I hope he's all right," Stoll said. "You hate to see a guy get hurt in the regular season or playoffs and I definitely wasn't trying to hurt him. ... There wasn't a penalty on the call so I'm not expecting anything."

Beside the video evidence, it doesn't help things that Kings coach Terry Murray all but predicted a bruising game earlier in the day. Here's what Murray said after the morning skate via Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider:

“We know it’s going to be a real revved-up series, a real hard series. Everything I read, from the San Jose players talking, it’s going to be a bit of a gong show, with fighting. I’m reading about Clowe’s bloody nose and Ben Eager all over the place and Mayers fighting. So we’re going to gear ourselves up for that kind of a game. We’ll keep Westgarth in the lineup. That’s the way they’re setting it up, so we’re going to be ready to battle.”

-- A.J. Perez
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com