Friday, June 13, 2014

Kings forward Williams wins Conn Smythe Trophy

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings forward Justin Williams added to his hockey-playing legend Friday by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I can't believe I won that," Williams said. "That will, I don't think, ever, ever sink in."

Williams, who scored the game-opening goal in a 3-2 double-overtime win against the New York Rangers in Game 5 at Staples Center, had two goals and five assists in the Stanley Cup Final. His seven points led the series.

Williams had nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points in the playoffs.

Williams isn't entirely comfortable with his budding legend. That status, he believes, is reserved for his favorite players growing up, Wayne Gretzky and Sergei Fedorov. He's a self-described gritty, feisty, competitive guy, another piece of the puzzle for the Kings.

"Up and down our lineup, you can make a case for any line, any [defense] pair. That's not just blowing smoke. That's the God's honest truth," Williams said. "To be singled out like that, have my teammates give me an applause, be genuinely excited for me, that was the most special thing."

The word may not fit Williams' description, but what he has accomplished in his NHL career is the stuff of legends. He cemented that Friday at Staples Center, when he became a Stanley Cup champion for the third time.

Williams won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. He has done it twice with the Kings in the past three seasons. In each run he's played a vital role, but never more so than this spring, scoring two goals and three assists in three Game 7 victories.

"You can throw all the stats out the window -- and he's had tremendous stats, especially in Game 7s -- because there's something else about him," Kings center Anze Kopitar said before Game 5. "He really glues this team together."

Kopitar, like defenseman Drew Doughty did earlier in the series, referred to Williams as an underrated player. But Kopitar isn't quite sure that's still the case.

Think about it; how can a player who has won the Stanley Cup three times, and now owns a Conn Smythe Trophy, be referred to as underrated?

Kings coach Darryl Sutter prefers to use another word to describe Williams: "Unique."

So unique, in fact, when Sutter was asked Tuesday to compare Williams to another player, the coach hemmed and hawed, delivered a few of his trademark facial expressions, then finally said he needed a day to think of one.

He was stumped, until Wednesday, when prior to Game 4 Sutter was asked if he had thought of a comparison to Williams. He did, but you could tell even he knew he was stretching.

"The only player I could come up with that was real similar in terms of big games and veteran experience and consistency, playing for a long time, playing on championships, was Martin Gelinas," Sutter said.

Gelinas played in the Stanley Cup Final four times, but his only championship came in his rookie season with the 1990 Edmonton Oilers. Williams is 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final.

Gelinas never had more than 15 points in a single postseason. Williams had at least 15 in each of his three championship runs.

"What's unique is, he's a consistent player every night, home and road, and he scores big goals and he understands his role," Sutter said of Williams. "A lot of times players like that don't understand their role. I think unique is another way of saying very consistent, very solid, understanding your role on a good hockey team."

Williams won't argue with any of that. All he ever wants to do is play his role and be a team guy. That's how he was raised in Cobourg, Ontario.

He was a first-round draft pick (No. 28 in the 2000 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers). He was a two-time 30-goal scorer with the Hurricanes. But never has Williams thought of himself as anything more than a piece of the puzzle.

"I don't do anything flashy out there," Williams said. "I'm not the fastest skater. I don't have the greatest shot. I just try and do the best I can out there with what I have. I feel my smarts and my instincts have gotten me where I am, and my competitiveness."

Kings center Jarret Stoll said, "He's a very fiery guy. You can see how much he cares, how much he loves his teammates and the game of hockey. He wants to compete so hard, so bad. The bigger the games get, he's always showing up, making the big play."

There are so many examples of that from this postseason.

Look at Game 7 against the San Jose Sharks. Williams took the puck down the right side and drew defenders to him before slotting a pass to Kopitar for the go-ahead goal at 18:39 of the second period. The Kings scored three more times in the third to win 5-1.

Look at Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks. Williams got the Kings started with a power-play goal at 4:30 of the first period. Los Angeles won 6-2.

And don't forget Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks, when Williams scored the game-tying goal in the first period then made the play behind the net to set-up Alec Martinez for the overtime winner in a 5-4 game.

Then Williams won Game 1 of the Cup Final in overtime, 3-2, by beating Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqivst on the stick side.

For good measure, Williams in Game 3 drew defenders toward him and made the pass to set up Jeff Carter for the first goal in a 3-0 victory. It came with 0.8 seconds remaining in the first period, and it was a dagger the Rangers couldn't pull out of their backs.

"He doesn't get enough credit for what he does," Doughty said of Williams.

He should now. He deserves it.

Williams is a three-time Stanley Cup champion, with a Conn Smythe Trophy. That's legendary.


Intense Sutter again guiding hand in Kings' Cup run

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell sported a wide grin before offering two words when asked earlier this week what separates coach Darryl Sutter from other coaches.

"Intense dude," he said, shaking his head for emphasis.

"He wants everyone to get the proper focus; that's the biggest thing," Mitchell added. "You're always prepared. He's a master motivator, knows when to push the buttons and how to push the buttons. Sometimes you don't like it, but look at his track record … it works."

It sure does.

For the second time in three seasons, there was Sutter, raising the Stanley Cup above his head, a rare smile crossing his face as the fans gave him a rousing ovation. His Kings had just earned a 3-2 double-overtime victory in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center in Los Angeles to win the best-of-7 series in five games against the New York Rangers on Friday.

This postseason, Sutter led his team to three straight Game 7 road victories, against the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and the defending Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

When the team rallied from a 3-0 series deficit against the Sharks, center Jeff Carter said there really wasn't anything different in Sutter's approach.

"I think all playoffs, no matter what situation we've been in, with the guys we have in the room, the leadership that we got from our coaching staff, it's never too high, never too low," he said. "Even when we were down three, we were still confident that if we played our game, did what we needed to do, that we could battle back and we could still win that series."

Sutter passed Scotty Bowman and Pat Burns for the most Game 7 wins in NHL history with seven and is 10-1 in the past 11 playoff series dating back to 2012, playing in an NHL-leading 64 postseason games during that span.

"What I learned under [Sutter] was to be prepared to play every night and don't let your game slip because if you let your game slip then you're not going to be happy with his decision," Kings rookie forward Tyler Toffoli said. "That's what keeps me motivated to keep working as hard as I can and keep pushing even when I'm tired."

Kings forward Dwight King knows that under Sutter no one player is more important than the one right next to you.

"He knows when to motivate and when to lay off," King said. "He's an intense guy when it comes to the hockey, but away from hockey he's an easy-going guy. He's very emotional and can judge and gauge the direction of the team pretty easily, which is something only a coach can do and what he does extremely well."

Mitchell indulged a few of the media members on hand by telling the story of Sutter's pregame ritual outside the locker room for most home games at Staples Center.

"He usually shows up two hours before puck drop and he'll be in the hallway in a half squat, leaning side to side, getting ready for the game," Mitchell said. "He's got an intense look on his face, and I'm looking at him like, 'Geez, you got two hours until game time, Coach.' I'm playing in the game and I'm looking at him and he's doing that.

"I guess everyone has that moment when they turn the switch and get that intensity."

Kings forward Justin Williams, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy, said Sutter is all work and, well, not much play.

"I think with Darryl, you probably all realize this, it's mostly all business," he said. "There's not much toying around, playing around. We've been through a lot together. It's a team that I remember Drew [Doughty] saying at the start of playoffs, hates to see another team get the better of them. I think our coach is the exact same way."

Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene acknowledged that the players see a different side to Sutter than the one shown during pre- and postgame press conferences.

"If you had a good game the night before, that's over and done with," Greene said. "You have to move on. It's the same if you had a bad night. So it's always kind of stay in the moment, you're always looking forward to the next game, and the coaches do a good job of that for us."


Fantastic finish for Kings' tandem of Toffoli, Pearson

There was a time not too long ago when Los Angeles Kings forwards Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson snarled at one another as opponents in the Ontario Hockey League.

On Friday night, the two rookies got the chance to raise the Stanley Cup on the ice at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The Kings defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 in double overtime in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to win the best-of-7 series. Toffoli got the primary assist on Alec Martinez's Cup-winning goal.

It was a run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs the rookie tandem will never forget.

"If someone told me this was the way my career would go, I would have taken it in a heartbeat," Pearson said prior to Game 4 of the Cup Final.

Pearson was in junior B in 2009-10, had a pedestrian season with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League the following season, and was passed over in the 2010 and 2011 drafts. He had a breakout 2011-12 for Barrie, and the Kings selected him No. 30 in the 2012 NHL Draft, 11 days after Los Angeles became the first organization in League history to win the Stanley Cup as the eighth seed.

While it was a delayed entry to the NHL for Pearson, he did have a bit of an early connection to the Kings. On his NHL Central Scouting questionnaire, filled out early in the 2011-12 season, he listed Kings teammate Mike Richards as the NHL player to whom he most likely would be compared.

Toffoli, who made his mark with the Ottawa 67's for four seasons, was selected by the Kings in the second round (No. 47) of the 2010 draft. On his Central Scouting questionnaire in his draft year, Toffoli listed New York Rangers right wing Rick Nash as his favorite NHL player.

Pearson and Toffoli each played key roles for their OHL teams and faced off a few times in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. They made a bigger impact together for the Kings.

"It has been a crazy couple of years for me," Pearson said. "First being drafted after the wait, playing that one game in the playoffs [in 2013] for the Kings, and then getting a chance to play this year and win the Stanley Cup."

Pearson made his Kings debut May 18, 2013, playing right wing on the fourth line in a playoff game against the San Jose Sharks, a 2-1 overtime loss.

Before joining the Kings this season, Toffoli and Pearson were teammates in the American Hockey League for the Manchester Monarchs in 2012-13.

"I think the Kings [organization] knew what I was capable of and they had the confidence in me at the next level," Pearson said. "I had a lot of confidence in my second year [in Barrie] and was able to transfer it over to the pro level. It took me a while to find it in the NHL, but I think I found the groove."

Toffoli and Pearson raised their games when Kings coach Darryl Sutter placed them on the wings with veteran center Jeff Carter in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a line that has been dubbed "That 70s Line" due to all three wearing jerseys with numbers in the 70s. Toffoli led all rookies in the playoffs in goals (seven) and points (14); Pearson was second in points (12) and first in plus/minus rating (plus-10).

Carter didn't do too bad skating between them, totaling 10 goals and 25 points.

How much did having a veteran like Carter mean to Toffoli and Pearson?

"I think a lot," Sutter said. "Jeff Carter is a top player in the National Hockey League. Anytime you get to play with a top player, either you elevate your game or you don't play with them."

Pearson agreed.

"Playing with [Carter] is pretty easy," he said. "He's a pure goal-scorer. All we need to do is get him the puck and let him do his thing. We just kind of use our speed and skill assets to our edge."

Kings left wing Dwight King said Pearson and Toffoli not only paid their dues, but were being rewarded for jobs well done this season.

"They played extremely well and chipped in with offense and defense in pretty much every category," he said. "When you have guys like that with fresh, fast legs who have been able to put the puck in the net for us, it's huge."

Pearson was recalled from Manchester on three separate occasions in 2013-14, all the while never wavering in his desire to get better. He finished the regular season with three goals and seven points in 25 games.

Toffoli's totals in the playoffs set the franchise rookie record for goals in one playoff year, and he set the rookie record for points. Daryl Evans had five goals and 13 points as a rookie for the Kings in 1982, and Warren Rychel had six goals and 13 points in 1993.

"They've each been through their own adversity where they've gone down [to Manchester] and worked a little bit and then have been recalled," King said of Toffoli and Pearson. "It shows in their character because things like that grow on a person. But it helps them prepare for moments like this."


Kings' trip to the Stanley Cup wasn't a smooth one

The Los Angeles Kings' journey to winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons was anything but scenic. In fact, their run was all but over at the beginning when they trailed the San Jose Sharks 3-0 in the Western Conference First Round.

It was during those situations that the Kings were the most dangerous. Los Angeles rallied to beat the Sharks, becoming the fourth team in NHL history to win a best-of-7 series after trailing 3-0.

The heavy lifting didn't end with their first-round escape. The next two series, against the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks, each went the full seven games. The Kings became the first team in League history to play all 21 possible games in the first three rounds and advance to the Cup Final, and also the first to win three Game 7s on the road in one postseason.

They needed five games to beat the New York Rangers in the Final, but three of the four victories came after regulation. Alec Martinez, who got the series-winner in OT against Chicago in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, scored the Cup-winner at 14:43 of the second overtime in Game 5 of the Final to win the Cup.

For coach Darryl Sutter and the Kings, their way is the hard way, and their tried-and-true method for reaching the promised land worked again.

"Most players, coaches, trainers never get any chance, zero [to win the Stanley Cup]. So when you get the opportunity … it’s always a testament to the group you have and to understand how tough it is," Sutter said.

Here's a game-by-game look at the Kings' path to championship glory:


June 13, 2014

Stanley Cup Final Game 5

KINGS 3, Rangers 2 (2OT)

The Kings were looking at a return trip to New York after the Rangers scored twice late in the second period to take a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes. But ex-Ranger Marian Gaborik's third-period power-play goal forced overtime, and after more than 34 minutes of racehorse hockey in OT, defenseman Alec Martinez hammered a rebound into the net to give the Kings the second championship in three seasons.

June 11, 2014

Stanley Cup Final Game 4

Rangers 2, KINGS 1

Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves and the Rangers got goals from Benoit Pouliot and Martin St. Louis to stave off elimination in the Stanley Cup Final. Lundqvist allowed a breakaway goal to Kings captain Dustin Brown in the second period, but stopped the final 26 shots he faced, including 15 in the third, when the Kings held the Rangers to one shot on goal.

June 9, 2014

Stanley Cup Final Game 3

KINGS 3, Rangers 0

With the series shifting to Madison Square Garden in New York, Jonathan Quick made 32 saves and the Kings got goals from Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards to move within one victory of winning the Stanley Cup. Carter's goal with 0.7 seconds left in the first period gave Los Angeles its first regulation lead of the series.

June 7, 2014

Stanley Cup Final Game 2

KINGS 5, Rangers 4 (2OT)

Kings captain Dustin Brown deflected Willie Mitchell's shot under the left arm of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 10:26 of the second overtime to give Los Angeles a 5-4 victory and a 2-0 series lead. The Kings became the first team in NHL history to win three straight Stanley Cup Playoff games after falling into two-goal deficits.

June 4, 2014

Stanley Cup Final Game 1

KINGS 3, Rangers 2 (OT)

Justin Williams' goal 4:36 into overtime lifted the Kings past the Rangers at Staples Center. Williams beat Henrik Lundqvist stick side for his eighth goal of the postseason. Los Angeles outshot New York 20-3 in the third period to become the first team with 20 shots in a Stanley Cup Final period in 16 years.



Kings hold off Blackhawks rally to take series in seven

June 1, 2014

Western Conference Final Game 7

KINGS 5, Blackhawks 4 (OT)

The Kings rallied three times against the Blackhawks, capped by Alec Martinez's goal 5:47 into overtime, as the Kings won at United Center. Los Angeles became the first team in League history to play all 21 possible games in the first three rounds and advance to the Stanley Cup Final, and the first to win three Game 7s on the road in one postseason.

May 30, 2014

Western Conference Final Game 6

Blackhawks 4, KINGS 3

Patrick Kane set up the game-tying goal and scored the winner in the third period for the Blackhawks, who rallied for the series-extending win at Staples Center. Kane scored twice for Chicago to force a third straight series with a Game 7 for Los Angeles.

May 28, 2014

Western Conference Final Game 5

Blackhawks 5, KINGS 4 (2OT)

Michal Handzus scored at 2:04 of the second overtime to lead the Blackhawks past the Kings at United Center. Patrick Kane had four assists for Chicago, including the secondary assist on Handzus' game-winner.

May 26, 2014

Western Conference Final Game 4

KINGS 5, Blackhawks 2

The Kings scored the first four goals, including two on the power play, in Game 4 to defeat the Blackhawks at Staples Center and move one win away from a return to the Stanley Cup Final. Los Angeles had scored 15 of 20 goals since Chicago led 2-0 late in the second period of Game 2.

May 24, 2014

Western Conference Final Game 3

KINGS 4, Blackhawks 3

Jeff Carter had a goal and two assists to help the Kings defeat the Blackhawks at Staples Center. Tanner Pearson added an assist and Tyler Toffoli scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period.

May 21, 2014

Western Conference Final Game 2

KINGS 6, Blackhawks 2

Jeff Carter's hat trick and an assist was part of a six-goal outburst in less than 20 minutes that sparked the Kings at United Center. Tyler Toffoli and Jake Muzzin added goals in Los Angeles' five-goal third period to hand Chicago its first postseason loss on home ice.

May 18, 2014

Western Conference Final Game 1

Blackhawks 3, KINGS 1

Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist, Corey Crawford made 25 saves and Duncan Keith's tiebreaking score in the second period led the Blackhawks in Game 1 at United Center.



Game 7 rout sparks Kings to Western Conference Final

May 16, 2014

Western Conference Second Round Game 7

KINGS 6, Ducks 2

The Kings claimed the first postseason Freeway Faceoff series and advanced to the Western Conference Final for the third straight season. Justin Williams, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Tanner Pearson all had goals, and goalie Jonathan Quick made 25 saves.

May 14, 2014

Western Conference Second Round Game 6

KINGS 2, Ducks 1

The Kings got goals from Jake Muzzin and Trevor Lewis, and 21 saves from Jonathan Quick, to force a Game 7 with a win at Staples Center. Los Angeles had lost the previous three games of the series before controlling Game 6 by shutting down Anaheim's power play (0-for-5) and surviving a frantic push in the final seconds.

May 12, 2014

Western Conference Second Round Game 5

Ducks 4, KINGS 3

The Ducks used another strong performance from rookie goalie John Gibson (39 saves) and two goals from Devante Smith-Pelly to defeat the Kings at Honda Center and push Los Angeles to the brink of elimination. Anaheim also survived a third period in which it was outshot 14-2.

May 10, 2014

Western Conference Second Round Game 4

Ducks 2, KINGS 0

John Gibson stopped all 28 Kings shots, and Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist to lead the Ducks to a win at Staples Center. Devante Smith-Pelly also scored, Corey Perry had two assists and Gibson, 20, became the youngest goalie in NHL history to have a shutout in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut.

May 8, 2014

Western Conference Second Round Game 3

Ducks 3, KINGS 2

Teemu Selanne's goal late in the second period broke a 1-1 tie and earned the Ducks their first win of the series while snapping the Kings' six-game winning streak.

May 5, 2014

Western Conference Second Round Game 2

KINGS 3, Ducks 1

The Kings grabbed a 2-0 series lead despite getting outshot 37-17. Marian Gaborik, Alec Martinez and Dwight King scored for Los Angeles, which also received 36 saves from Jonathan Quick to win its sixth straight postseason game.

May 3, 2014

Western Conference Second Round Game 1

KINGS 3, Ducks 2 (OT)

Kings forward Marian Gaborik was front and center of a dramatic Los Angeles victory to open the first-ever Freeway Faceoff series at Honda Center. Gaborik forced overtime with 7.0 seconds remaining and then scored the game-winner at 12:17 of the extra session. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Gaborik became the first player in Stanley Cup Playoff history to score a tying goal in the final 10 seconds of regulation and then score in overtime.



Kings mount historic comeback to oust Sharks

April 30, 2014

Western Conference First Round Game 7

KINGS 5, Sharks 1

The Kings completed the fourth comeback from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-7 series in NHL history by beating the Sharks at SAP Center. Anze Kopitar's goal late in the second period gave the Kings a 2-1 lead and they scored three times in the third to put them in the history books alongside the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942, New York Islanders in 1975 and Philadelphia Flyers in 2010.

April 28, 2014

Western Conference First Round Game 6

KINGS 4, Sharks 1

Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar each had two goals and the Kings scored three times in 2:46 of the third period to win at Staples Center. L.A. became only the ninth team in League history to force a Game 7 after trailing a series 3-0.

April 26, 2014

Western Conference First Round Game 5

KINGS 3, Sharks 0

After giving up 16 goals in the first three games, Jonathan Quick (30 saves) shut out the Sharks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth time in his career to lead the Kings to a win at SAP Center. Tyler Toffoli, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter scored as Los Angeles trimmed its series deficit to 3-2.

April 24, 2014

Western Conference First Round Game 4

KINGS 6, Sharks 3

Justin Williams and Marian Gaborik each scored two goals to help the Kings stave off elimination in Game 4 at Staples Center. Dustin Brown added a goal and an assist and Tyler Toffoli scored on his 22nd birthday during a three-goal second period.

April 22, 2014

Western Conference First Round Game 3

Sharks 4, KINGS 3 (OT)

Patrick Marleau's shot went off the stick of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and past goalie Jonathan Quick 6:20 into overtime to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Rookie Tomas Hertl tied the game with 10:43 left in regulation en route to the Sharks' fifth consecutive overtime playoff win.

April 20, 2014

Western Conference First Round Game 2

Sharks 7, KINGS 2

Second-period goals from Sharks forwards Mike Brown and Raffi Torres erased an early two-goal deficit and opened the floodgates in Game 2 at SAP Center. The Sharks also got goals from Justin Braun, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Joe Thornton to overcome a two-goal deficit after the first period of a playoff game for only the third time in 26 tries. San Jose also matched a franchise postseason record for most goals in one game.

April 17, 2014

Western Conference First Round Game 1

Sharks 6, KINGS 3

Five straight goals to open this series got the Sharks going en route to a series-opening win at SAP Center. Six different players scored for San Jose and Antti Niemi made 31 saves.

Wheat Kings' Quenneville, Hawryluk surge up ranks

Forwards John Quenneville and Jayce Hawryluk have gained accolades playing different styles, but there's no denying the chemistry exhibited as linemates in the turnaround of the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2013-14.

Each player no doubt bolstered his draft stock during the second half of the season and is a prime candidate to be selected in the early rounds of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27-28.

"Prior to the home stretch, both players had missed time due to injury and it was impressive to NHL scouts how both of them elevated their game throughout the playoffs to lead their team," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr told "It bodes quite well for Brandon's future to have two high-character players that can lead them both on the ice and on the score sheet."

Quenneville, second cousin to Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, is No. 23 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the draft. Hawryluk is No. 37.

"Hawryluk was spunky and had a good work ethic; he's undersized [5-foot-10, 190 pounds], but plays big and with grit," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald said. "He has decent hands and good instincts, and definitely had a tremendous second half."

Hawryluk, who compares his feisty style to that of Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins or Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens, had nine goals, 19 points and a plus-6 rating in the final 14 games of the regular season to finish with 24 goals, 64 points and a plus-16 rating in 59 games. He then had five goals and 12 points in eight Western Hockey League playoff games.

Marr compared Hawryluk to Jaden Schwartz of the St. Louis Blues or Justin Williams of the Los Angeles Kings.

"He's a very dependable two-way player capable of putting up some numbers, being effective playing along high-skilled players and capable of rising to the occasion at key points," Marr said.

The NHL Scouting Combine was a big moment for Hawryluk, who was out to prove to NHL general managers and scouts that the events that transpired March 26 were behind him. After scoring three goals and adding an assist in a 5-4 victory against the Regina Pats in Game 3 of their best-of-7 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, Hawryluk was hospitalized after collapsing in the locker room from dehydration.

Hawryluk came back the next game but wanted to show anyone who didn't believe him that he was 100 percent.

Not only did he survive all 11 fitness tests, but he did so in impressive fashion, finishing in the top 10 in a number of events. He completed 12 pull-ups, second to Windsor Spitfires forward Joshua Ho-Sang, who had 13. He did 14 repetitions on the 150-pound bench press, tied for ninth. He also showed how strong his legs were with a 111-inch standing long jump, the ninth farthest.

"It was tough after that [Regina] playoff game because Jayce had a great game and we were all excited for him," Quenneville said. "Then what happened scared all of us; it was devastating. We were so high for the game and then we were at an ultimate low, but we're happy everything turned out fine."

Quenneville had 25 goals and 58 points in 61 games this season, his second season in the WHL.

In addition to the Chicago coach, Quenneville is the nephew (through marriage) of Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk.

"I would compare Quenneville to a David Perron (Edmonton Oilers) or Jason Pominville (Minnesota Wild); an offensive-minded player with the speed, skills and finishing touch," Marr said. "As he continues to physically mature and gain more experience, he can be that consistent specialty player that helps on the power play."

Scouts like the fact Quenneville has good hands, a hard shot and tremendous motor.

"Quenneville can play center or wing, but I think he's a much more effective player on the wing," MacDonald said. "Injuries slowed him down through the season but he came back strong in the end and had a tremendous finish and exceptional playoff.

"He turned into a leader for his team and is more a natural talent than Hawryluk, who is more of a take-charge player."

Quenneville had nine goals, 21 points and a plus-13 rating in the final 22 regular-season games, then had five goals, 13 points and a plus-4 rating in nine playoff games.

"I made sure I was in good shape heading into the season and was physically ready to go and in a good state of mind," Quenneville said. "I just played hockey and had fun. My team was very good and we improved during the course of the season."

The top line of Quenneville centering right wing Hawryluk and top 2015 draft-eligible left wing Jesse Gabrielle accounted for 13 goals and 31 points in the WHL playoffs. The trio likely will remain intact to start the 2014-15 season.

"When Johnny came in as a rookie [in 2012-13], he didn't play as much as he would have expected. But this season he was one of the most important guys on our team," Hawryluk said. "He came to the ice, was a leader and worked hard. He came to camp probably in the best shape of any player on our team and that showed right from the start that he was in it to win it."

After finishing with the worst record in the Eastern Conference and missing the 2013 WHL playoffs, the Wheat Kings not only earned the seventh seed in the East this season but upset the second-seeded Pats in the opening round in four games.

"The win in the first round of the playoffs against Regina was my most memorable hockey moment so far," Quenneville said. "That meant a lot to our team since we didn't make the playoffs last year. We're going to be a really good team moving forward, and I think winning that first series as a member of the organization meant a lot for us, especially for me."


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dorsett: Rangers focused on winning one game

New York Rangers forward Derek Dorsett will be blogging for throughout the Stanley Cup Final, offering his insight on what is happening inside the walls of his team's locker room and within the confines of the rink.

NEW YORK -- The last couple of days have been frustrating around here, as you could imagine. We had some down time and I've done a lot of thinking. Obviously no one is happy. The mood hasn't been very good.

When you're in the Stanley Cup Final and you're down 3-0 it's hard to turn your mind off from it. There are a lot of sleepless nights, tossing and turning.

It was real quiet around here yesterday. We had a team meeting and some things were said. Guys did a lot of thinking. I don't know if it was soul-searching, but searching for something. Today it seems like guys are energized and ready to bring our best game to try to get a win to stay alive.

And that's all we can do -- worry about one game. We can't look further. We have to put our best effort in front of us, win one game and go from there.

Yesterday was a tough day, but I came to the rink and played some soccer with the guys to get a sweat going. You don't want to have a full day off where you do nothing, so I got a sweat going during the optional skate and then I met my brothers Mike and Chad, and my cousins.

We had lunch at my place and then we just walked around to get some fresh air. We were down on the west side at Chelsea Piers and we saw the putt-putt and said, 'Let's go play.' We had a little competition. It was good. It gave me a chance to get away and recharge my batteries.

However, getting away from everything is definitely hard to do now. There's a big buzz around the city. Everywhere you go you see Rangers signs and people wearing Rangers apparel. There are people coming up to you, still supporting you, walking down the street and telling you that they still believe. You just tell them that we do too.

We have to win one game. That's where our focus is. You can't think about anything else.

It's been a frustrating week with the position we're in, but I think Marty St. Louis said it best yesterday when he said there are 28 other teams that wish they could be in our situation. Now we have to come with the best effort we've had all year and win the game.

I haven't packed for L.A. yet, but I imagine there will be a duffle bag in my future, that's for sure.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kings want to finish Rangers as quick as possible

NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Kings know what it's like to trail 3-0 in a best-of-7 series. That's why they have no intention of taking their foot off the gas in the Stanley Cup Final.

In the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the Kings became the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after losing the first three games when they rallied to beat the San Jose Sharks. On Wednesday they'll attempt to complete a sweep of the New York Rangers in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"It wasn't easy for us to come back from 3-0 in the first series against San Jose," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said Tuesday. "We know how it can happen. All it takes is one game, one momentum shift. The [other] team can run with it, the other team can be down in the dumps.

"That's why this next game is so important for us. We can't let them back into the series. We have to take it to them. They're going to have their best effort without a doubt and we need to have ours as well."

In the Western Conference First Round, the Kings fell behind 3-0 to the Sharks when Patrick Marleau scored in overtime. On Tuesday, Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter reflected on the opening game of that series, when goaltender Jonathan Quick was pulled in favor of Martin Jones after allowing four goals on 20 shots through the first two periods. The Kings allowed 13 goals in the first two games of the series and then lost the heartbreaker in Game 3.

"I don't remember our mood after Game 3 [against the Sharks]," Sutter said. "I recall our mood the third period of Game 1 when we put Martin Jones in. We could see we're not a team somebody says, 'Go away,' and we go away. We're a team that's going to respond.

"[It] doesn't mean you're always going to win, but you're going to respond. The other team is going to know they played you. I saw that in period one of Game 3. We knew we were winning the series; it just took a little bit longer."

It took a bit of time for that confidence to develop. Kings center Jarret Stoll admitted it wasn't easy to shake off Marleau's overtime goal, which put Los Angeles on the brink of elimination. Slowly but surely, though, shock turned into belief.

That belief carried into the second round when the Kings again had a three-game losing streak, falling behind the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in the Western Conference Second Round before winning back-to-back games to advance.

Twice the Kings have rallied so they know it's possible. But now it's their turn to not allow the Rangers to get up off the mat.

"Right away I was like, 'Geez, are we really down 0-3 here?'" Stoll said of their first-round deficit. "But then very quickly after, you just realize you've got to win Game 4. Just win one game, start putting a little bit of pressure on them. You win one game, you go into their building for Game 5, and that was kind of the turning point I thought for that series for our team. Going in there and winning, it put a lot of doubt in their minds.

"That's exactly what we do not want to do in this series. We want to have a killer instinct and play the right way and play determined, and not let any of that stuff happen and think about it."

Quick made 32 saves in Game 3 on Monday, a throwback to how he performed for much of the 2012 postseason. This year has been a little bit different for Los Angeles, which saw Quick struggle at the start of the playoffs. The Kings have needed more of an all-hands-on-deck approach to reach this point.

The battle for the Conn Smythe Trophy remains very much up in the air with four players having reached the 20-point plateau, while Doughty has 17 points and is averaging 28:18 of ice time per game this postseason. The Kings have scored 11 goals against the Rangers, each by a different player.

That first-round series against the Sharks seems like a distant memory now, but it's important the Kings keep it fresh in their minds when they try to finish the Rangers on Wednesday and win their second championship in three years.

"The guys that we have in the room and the relationship we've got with our coaching staff, it's never get high, never get low," said forward Jeff Carter, who has 10 goals and 14 assists in 24 playoff games. "When we were down three [to San Jose], we were still confident that if we played our game and did what we needed to do that we could battle back and we could still win that series.

"This series, being up 3-0, we're a confident group again. It's about us going out and playing our game and executing our game plan."


Five things Rangers must do to avoid being swept

NEW YORK -- The looks on their faces told the story of one end of this Stanley Cup Final. They were looks of disbelief, of disgust, of dismay. And they were looks that shouldn't have surprised anyone who made their way into the New York Rangers dressing room Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm not going to lie to you, it's pretty much impossible to be upbeat," Rangers center Brad Richards said. "But you have to be professional. The series is not over."

Not yet anyway. Maybe soon, though.

The Los Angeles Kings lead the best-of-7 series 3-0 heading into Game 4 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). They are one win away from their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons.

For the Rangers, the questions they face now are hard to deal with, particularly because the answers aren't easy to find. They've instead complained about puck luck not being on their side, about bounces going against them.

"We've had will, we've wanted to win all three games we've played in, but sometimes it just doesn't happen," Richards said. "I can't tell you honestly that we feel we should be down 3-0, but it doesn't really matter if I say that or not because we are. We've played a lot of good periods, a lot of good hockey, and this is the situation we're dealt. We're grown men. We've gotta face it."

Richards then said the Rangers have to come to work Wednesday and put their best foot forward. How can they do that? How can they extend this series?

Here are five ways:

1. Stop blaming the bounces

The Rangers are not in a 3-0 hole because of bad bounces against them. They blew four separate two-goal leads in Games 1 and 2 and got shut out in Game 3. That's why they're down. Bounces are just part of it, as they were in Game 3.

The Kings' first two goals deflected in off Rangers players. The third came after Ryan McDonagh did all he could to defend a 2-on-1, only to have the puck hit him in the skate and bounce right back to Kings forward Mike Richards, who quickly deposited it into the net.

"You can't draw that up," Richards said.

No, but you can avoid the mistakes that led to the bad breaks.

L.A.'s first goal came on a poorly defended rush in the dying seconds of the first period. The third goal came off a 2-on-1 created by an ill-timed pinch by defenseman Dan Girardi and poor coverage by Martin St. Louis, who should have been higher in the zone to cover for Girardi.

The Rangers aren't doing enough to create their own breaks. That's the problem. They need to recognize that.

"There's always more you could do in a loss," Girardi said. "All three goals went off one of us and then into the net, there's nothing you can change about that, but we also had a ton of chances for ourselves to get the lead or tie up the game. We are not blaming our losses on bounces. We've gotta work that much harder to create our own puck luck. That's definitely not an excuse for us."

2. Better Lundqvist

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has a 3.13 goals-against average and .892 save percentage in the series. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has a 1.68 GAA and .938 save percentage in the series.

Those numbers need no analysis.

"I know I have to play really well for us to win," Lundqvist said.

He hasn't been terrible. Some of the goals he has given up have been of the tough-luck variety.

Lundqvist said he feels he's tracking the puck well, that he's in position, that he feels good on the ice. But he also knows better than anyone that he hasn't been good enough, and that has to change.

"I'm going to need my best [Wednesday]," Lundqvist said.

3. Get everyone involved

The Rangers got to the Stanley Cup Final by being a four-line team. They've been a one-and-a-half or two-line team in each game of the series. That's not going to cut it, especially against the Kings, who have gotten contributions from up and down their lineup.

The Kings have 11 goals in the series from 11 different players. All four of their lines and two of their three defense pairs have contributed at least one goal.

Three of the Rangers' four even-strength goals have come from the same line (Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello). They have one goal from a defenseman (McDonagh) and two goals on special teams (Carl Hagelin shorthanded, St. Louis on the power play).

Beyond the production, the Rangers have not had a game yet in this series when all four of their lines were forechecking well, getting the puck behind the Kings' defense, making them run around in their own zone and creating chances.

The fourth line of Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore and Derek Dorsett did a lot of that in Games 1 and 2, but not much in Game 3. Hagelin was excellent in Game 1 because of his speed, but he hasn't been the same since. Rick Nash was a dominant power forward in Game 3, but not in Games 1 and 2. Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Richards and St. Louis haven't been effective enough.

The Rangers need them all to play their best game of the series in Game 4.

"I don't think it's one issue," defenseman Marc Staal said. "Bottom line is we haven't done enough to win a hockey game against these guys. Pick what you want to pick at, we haven't done enough."

4. Get the puck, get it deep, use the entire zone

Jumping on the Kings early won't be the difference in the game, but it will give the Rangers confidence they belong on the same ice surface as L.A. That confidence has to be waning in the wake of Game 3. They need it back.

To get it, the Rangers have to get pucks in behind the Kings' defense and win them back. They have to play below the dots because that will draw the Kings down and open the high part of the zone. But they can't forget about using the high part of the zone too.

As much as the Rangers want to crash and bang into the crease, they have to be conscious about having too many guys below the dots. The 2-on-1 that led to Mike Richards' goal in the second period Monday was a result of the Rangers having four players down low.

Girardi was deep in the zone and St. Louis went to the puck instead of the high part of the zone. Had he gone to the high part of the zone he would have been able to intercept Kyle Clifford's chip pass up to Richards. He would have stopped the 2-on-1 before it started.

So the key for the Rangers is to get the puck in deep to draw the Kings back. That will open space higher in the zone, which if used properly will give New York a chance to get shots through and still have players at or around the net to create traffic and second-chance opportunities.

5. More Nash

Nash had his best game of the playoffs in Game 3. He might have even scored had it not been for a smart hooking penalty by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty in the second period. Doughty hauled Nash down as he was going for an open wrap-around attempt.

Even when Nash scored in the Eastern Conference Final he wasn't as powerful and as forceful as he was Monday night. The Rangers need him to play that way again. In fact, they need him to play that way all the time.

It's not clear why Nash doesn't always play with the same type of power and aggressiveness he displayed in Game 3, but at least coach Alain Vigneault noticed he had it going and tried to take advantage of it.

Vigneault smartly put Nash on the power play in the second period and gave him a total of 2:18 of ice time on the power play in the game. The power play was New York's most dangerous weapon. Nash played a combined 26 seconds on the power play in Games 1 and 2.

Vigneault will leave Nash on the power play in Game 4 provided Nash shows him he's going to play with the same type of aggression he had in Game 3. Nash has no reason not to play that way. He has no reason not to play that way all the time.


Rangers focused solely on winning Game 4 vs. Kings

NEW YORK -- After a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the New York Rangers woke up Tuesday to face the reality that only one other team had come back from a 3-0 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final to win, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.

Their attempt to become the second team began with an optional skate Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was one of the few Rangers regulars to take the ice. With a night's sleep and a leisurely skate behind him, Lundqvist faced the seemingly insurmountable mission with poise and confidence.

"It was a tough day today," he said. "It was a tough night [Monday]. You have to move on. You understand how serious the situation is and how tough it is for us to try to turn it around. Now we're only looking at [Game 4] and we'll try to win that game. Then you take it from there."

When the Rangers face the Kings in Game 4 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), they'll be staring at a reminder of exactly what is possible in the face of intimidating odds. The Kings overcame a 3-0 deficit in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, winning four straight against the San Jose Sharks.

"I think both teams know it's possible to turn this around," Lundqvist said. "They've done it and we know we can do it. It's not like we've been outplayed; that has not been the case. They've been good but I think we've been playing pretty good as well. It comes down to a couple of plays that have been the difference in each game. But it starts with your belief and how you approach this game. They know it's possible and we know it's possible."

The majority of the Rangers regulars stayed off the ice Tuesday, instead taking a day to recover from the sting of their most frustrating loss of the season. New York outshot Los Angeles 32-15 in Game 3, and each of the Kings' goals derived directly from an unfortunate bounce. Los Angeles' first two goals bounced off Rangers players, and Mike Richards scored the third goal after Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh made a strong defensive play to break up a 2-on-1 break. The loose puck went back to Richards, who gave L.A. a 3-0 lead and put the game out of reach with 2:46 left in the second.

The Rangers still were coming to terms with the loss 12 hours later.

"There wasn't much sleep in this room last night, probably," forward Brad Richards said. "Today is a tough day. Your mind is racing at 1,000 different things that you can do differently. You get home tonight, get a good night's sleep, wake up and get right back into a game day. It's still an unbelievable situation to be in a Stanley Cup Final. We have to remember that. There's a lot of players that would love to be here. It’s not over."

After almost two months of reciting post-game clich├ęs through these playoffs, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was done talking. The only thing left to do is regroup, revisit the game plan and win Wednesday.

"Whatever talk you may use, at the end of the day it's about one game," Vigneault said. "That's as simple and logical and realistic as I can put it. We need to focus on one game and that's what we're going to do. Everybody is going to come out [Tuesday] and say all the right things. All that is just talk. What needs to happen is the actions on the ice. So far I like the way we've played. We've played some good hockey but we haven't found a way to win. That's what we've got to do."

Stuck in a deep hole against a strong competitor, the Rangers' chances for a historic comeback hinge on what they hope will be a season-saving effort Wednesday.

Rangers trying to look on the bright side

At this point, the odds are heavily stacked against the New York Rangers. They haven’t proven yet that they can seal the deal against the Los Angeles Kings when they have a two-goal lead and now they have to beat them four times in a row.

At a time like this, it’s important for the New York Rangers to look at the bright side. And what is that at this point? Well, the fact that they even have a game scheduled for June 11th is a good start.

“There’s 28 teams that would love to be in our place right now,” Rangers forward Marty St. Louis said, per’s Brian Compton.

“It’s still an unbelievable situation to be in a Stanley Cup Final,” Brad Richards told’s Dan Rosen. “We’ve gotta remember that.”

It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come often. Richards and St. Louis made it to the Cup Final in 2004 and they had to fight for another decade before they could get back. And making it this far twice in their careers makes them two of the lucky ones.

The fact is, the Rangers might as well fight into the bitter end, not just because that’s what they’re supposed to do or because that’s how they got this far in the first place, but because every player on the roster realizes that, even down 3-0 in the series, they might not get a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup than they have right now.

“It’s not like we’ve been outplayed here. That’s not been the case,” Henrik Lundqvist insisted, according to the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno.

The Rangers certainly have been the better team at times, but not nearly often enough. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was asked what they could do differently and he bluntly said “score,” but that won’t be enough.

The Kings have found different ways to beat them and along the way, they have furthered their reputation as the most resilient team in this year’s postseason. The Rangers have to take that title from them because nothing short of that will be sufficient.

Marek vs. Wyshynski Podcast: Glenn Healy of HNIC; Kings prepare for sweep


LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

It's a Tuesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

• The Kings go up 3-0 on the Rangers.

• Conn Smythe Watch.

• The competition committee's hit and misses.

Question of the Day: What's the best news to come out of the competition committee meeting? Email or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

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Game 3 matchup: Quick equal to greater workload

A huge part of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final will be the battle between 2012 Cup winner Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings and Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers . Those two elite goalies will go a long way in determining which team will raise the Stanley Cup later this month.

Who has the upper hand? scouted the goalies before the series and will track their performance during each game, identifying trends affecting each goaltender. correspondent Kevin Woodley, managing editor of InGoal Magazine, will use the 360 Save Review System software from Double Blue Sports Analytics to chart the goals and shots against each goalie in each game of the Stanley Cup Final. Here are his findings from Game 2, a 5-4 double-overtime victory by the Kings, which gives them a 2-0 lead in the best of-7 series.

Jonathan Quick

Quantity and quality: The highlight-reel saves will get the most attention, and deservedly so given the degree of difficulty on many, but this also was the busiest, and according to the shot chart toughest, game of the Stanley Cup Final for Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.

Using the "home plate" area in front of the goalies as the qualifier, 19 of the 32 shots Quick faced were Grade-A scoring chances in Game 3, compared to 10 in Game 1 and 12 in Game 2, both of which went to overtime. Quick faced more than 12 Grade-A shots in the final two periods of Game 3 alone, including eight of 17 shots in the second period, five of which were near the edge of his crease.

The types of chances also got tougher in Game 3, with seven screened shots being more than he saw in the first two games combined, and the four rebounds the Rangers turned into shots matching the total combined from the first two games. The number of sharp-angle attacks from directly near or below the goal line decreased to six after reaching 21 in the first two games, perhaps an indication the Rangers determined that line of attack wasn't working.

Aim high: Those dead-angle plays accounted for many of the nine saves Quick made with his stick, but for the most part the Rangers stuck with pre-series scouting indications that high shots are necessary to score on the Kings goalie. Fifteen of the Rangers' 32 shots in Game 3 were in the mid to high range. However, the way Quick was tracking pucks off the stick of Rangers players Monday hardly made it seem to matter. Even on the rare occasions he didn't see the puck, Quick put himself in position for it to hit him. Quick's game seemed more controlled in terms of his tactical aggression.

Well known for playing above the top of his crease even on in-zone chances, Quick was inside the blue paint on the two saves which led to both rebound chances by Derick Brassard. That positioning gave Quick a chance to come across compact to get a pad on the first chance and allowed him to reach back with the paddle of his stick on the second. Even the diving paddle save on Mats Zuccarello came after he tried to make a save inside the top edge of his crease. Any further out, where Quick often is, and that diving save might come up short of the post.

Henrik Lundqvist

Does it Matter Where? It's hard to use the goals as an indication of where the Kings may have been shooting as two of the goals Monday went in at a different location than originally intended. Lundqvist appeared to moving himself into Jeff Carter's shot during a 2-on-1 before it hit the skate of a sliding defender and deflected the other way and over his glove. And Lundqvist was sliding into blocking a power-play stop when the second goal also changed direction after hitting off Martin St. Louis in the slot. The third goal, over the blocker, came after a broken play on another 2-on-1 which left that area exposed and Lundqvist helpless.

After all the focus on Lundqvist's blocker after Game 1, the Kings sent slightly more shots toward his glove side for a second straight game. But with 15 shots total and two in the third period while leading 3-0, it's not exactly a big sample size, especially after Lundqvist faced 87 shots in the first two games.

Only six of the 15 shots came from within the Grade-A zone, but that doesn't include the Jake Muzzin point shot which changed direction off the glove of St. Louis from inside that home-plate area. With the exception of seven one-timer or quick-release shots and five shots off lateral passes, the workload and number of difficult saves were down from a tough Game 2 for Lundqvist.