I guess narrow playoff defeats are just par for the course this spring in the Los Angeles Kings organization. The Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, suffered a hard-luck first-round loss to the Texas Stars in the Calder Cup Playoffs. If you thought LA deserved a better fate, try this on for size: despite losing three games to one, Ontario actually outscored Texas over the course of the series, lost two of the three games in OT, and lost the third despite outshooting Texas 47-26. Stars goaltender Mike McKenna stopped all 47 of those shots in Game 4, after stopping all 44 shots he faced in Game 3. (Eat your heart out, Marc-Andre Fleury.) Ontario survived a remarkably tight Pacific Division race to earn a playoff berth, and this is a tough way to go down.
An emotional & direct Mike Stothers deeply praised his team. “Those guys, they bled for me, so I’m a lucky guy.” Wanted to speak about them as a group but made one exception. “The only guy I’m singling out is Cal Petersen. The best God damn goalie in the American Hockey League.”— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) April 25, 2018
- Awards announcements have been rolling out over the past week, and LA’s fairly well-represented. Anze Kopitar’s candidacy for the Selke Trophy was a slam-dunk, and the four-time finalist might be considered a favorite against first-time finalist Sean Couturier and perennial contender (despite appearing in only 64 games) Patrice Bergeron. Drew Doughty’s now a three-time Norris Trophy finalist, though a win for him this season seems unlikely against season-long leader Victor Hedman. Doughty also was LA’s nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
- In case you missed it, here’s LA’s submission in the NHL’s annual “How many of our guys were injured during the playoffs?” pool:
Tried to tweet this earlier ... per Rob Blake, Jake Muzzin has a separated shoulder and Derek Forbort a sprained MCL. Jeff Carter needs more rehab and said this summer will "be big for me."— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) April 20, 2018
- The Los Angeles Kings are holding an auction today to support Peace Over Violence, who they partnered with back in September 2015 as part of their Conduct Awareness Training Initiatives. Can you rock a denim jersey?
The @LAKings are proud to support @PeaceOvrViolnce's #DenimDay Campaign. Make a statement by wearing denim tomorrow (4/25) and/or support the @LAKingsCare Denim Jersey auction benefiting #POV18.— LA Kings (@LAKings) April 25, 2018
BID > https://t.co/5XsHu39n4T pic.twitter.com/DW258Cz6Sr
- If you want to keep an eye on a Kings player in a postseason tournament, you’ve got fewer choices but there are some intriguing ones. Gabriel Vilardi and the Kingston Frontenacs staved off elimination with a win in Game 4 of their second-round series; Vilardi is second in the OHL in playoff points, with 22. Game 5 is Thursday. Meanwhile, goaltending prospect Matt Villalta and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are looking for a 3-1 lead in their own series tonight. [OHL]
- The world championships are also an option. Adrian Kempe will play for Sweden, while Alec Martinez is expected to play for the United States. Jonathan Quick appears to be getting some time off, as Keith Kinkaid, Scott Darling, and Charlie Lindgren are all confirmed attendees. Stay tuned; the worlds start on May 4.
- I wish LA was in (obviously) but I do love that the remaining teams representing the West in the playoffs are from Vegas, San Jose, Nashville, and Winnipeg. Not a Cup winner in the bunch.
I wish LA got more of these, but the Hockey Night in Canada playoff game-opening montages are always fun. Feel free to fall into this rabbit hole.
GAME TO WATCH
One playoff game tonight, and it’s a biggie: the Boston Bruins host the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series. Since LA overcame a 3-0 series deficit against the San Jose Sharks in 2014, only one other team has even been able to recover from a 3-1 deficit to win a series: the New York Rangers, who did it twice. Toronto’s trying to be the second.