Brad Richardson nominated for Masterton trophy, Jeff Halpern skates and other notes on the playoff-bound Kings
The Kings were off Sunday when they clinched a playoff spot thanks to Calgary's loss to Chicago, so Monday's practice was their first occasion to talk about what it feels like to be headed for the postseason. It's new territory for many players: The Kings haven't made the playoffs since 2002 and no player from that team is still on the roster.
"It's a long time coming for me," said team captain Dustin Brown, one of the many core players who have never played in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"That was our goal at the beginning of the year and we did it with four games left. It's exciting, but at the same time, we have four games left and we need to take these games just as seriously as if we needed to win every single one of them."
Anze Kopitar said he was getting updates on Calgary's game while driving home on the 405. "It's exciting," he said. "It's definitely a new thing and I'm really excited about it and ready for it. It's been a while since the Kings have been in the playoffs and I've been here for the past three years that we didn't make it but this definitely feels good."
We'll have more on that later at www.latimes.com/sports
Also, the Los Angeles chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Assn. announced it has nominated Brad Richardson for the Bill Masterton trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." Each of the 30 PHWA chapters nominates a player and the field is gradually narrowed until the winner is announced in June.
Richardson overcame foot injuries that limited him to 31 games last season to become a key contributor this season with 11 goals and 27 points in 77 games. Here's a great hidden stat: The Kings are 10-0-1 in games he's scored a goal this season.
"It feels good to be nominated for anything," he said. "It feels good especially after last year, not having a great year, to be able to bounce back this year and have a pretty good year obviously feels good."
One more note: Jeff Halpern, who suffered an upper-body injury on a nasty hit by Vancouver's Tanner Glass last week, skated Monday for the second successive day but is still not nearly ready to return.
-- Helene Elliott