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Category: Jonathan Bernier

Kings: Injured Alexei Ponikarovsky will sit again; Jonathan Quick to start against Coyotes

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Greetings from rainy Glendale, Ariz.

Left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, who missed Monday’s 4-0 victory at San Jose because of a lower-body injury that is believed to be an ankle problem, was the first player on the ice for the Kings’ morning skate Wednesday but didn’t participate in many drills. Afterward, Coach Terry Murray said Ponikarovsky won’t play Wednesday against the Coyotes.

“He’s still a little lame. Feeling a lot better,” Murray said. “He’s gone through two days of pretty intense treatment. Still some swelling, a little bit of tenderness. Not able to cross over, pivot, open up -- all those things that hockey players have to do. So we’ll just keep pushing the rehab work. When his body’s ready to go he’ll get back in.”

Murray also said defenseman Willie Mitchell, who suffered an apparent knee injury Dec. 16 at St. Louis, skated on Wednesday at the team’s El Segundo training base. Murray said he had no update beyond the originally stated week-to-week projection.

Otherwise, Murray said the lineup will be the same Wednesday at Jobing.com Arena, with Jonathan Quick starting in goal. He also confirmed that Jonathan Bernier will start at home Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Murray and the rest of the coaching staff watched the Coyotes lose to the Ducks Tuesday night to start a rare set of back-to-back home games, and they took lots of mental notes. Murray said the Coyotes were uncharacteristically loose at the start off the game and later played a more urgent, press-up game that he expects to see them play Wednesday.

“More three on the puck, defense are going to be aggressive down the boards, defense are going to be jumping up on the play on the attack on a pretty consistent basis and probably play more pucks off the net than what they did," he said. "I thought they overpassed and looked for some cute plays in the offensive zone [Tuesday] night. So I’m sure there will be a change of attitude tonight.”

More in a little bit, including Kyle Clifford’s thoughts on not being at the world junior championships and Anze Kopitar welcoming a fellow Slovenian to the NHL.

-- Helene Elliott in Glendale, Ariz.

Photo: Alexi Ponikarovsky. Credit: Jerry S. Mendoza /Associated Press.

Moon shot? Airmail? By any name, Kopitar-to-Brown goal was memorable

Kings Coach Terry Murray gave his players Tuesday off except for an afternoon meeting, but the rest of the hockey world was still marveling at the high lob pass by Anze Kopitar to Dustin Brown that put Brown  behind the Sharks defense and in position to score the Kings’ final goal in their 4-0 victory at San Jose on Monday.


Here’s the goal, in case you missed it...


And here’s what Brown, Kopitar and Murray had to say about it after the game.

Question to Brown: Did you know that was coming?

Brown: “Yeah, we’ve actually tried that in similar situations. You probably don’t realize it because it’s never connected like that. Either I’m thinking he’s going to do it too early [and] I’m going too fast or he flips it on a second too late and it ends up being an icing. Tonight we both were on the same page with that flip. He put it right there.”

Question to Kopitar: Brown said you had tried that play before but it had never quite connected.

Kopitar: “We have. We’ve connected a few times. It just wasn’t a case like this. Either the [defense] was back so it wasn’t like a clear-cut breakaway. Tonight it worked out pretty well."

Question to Murray: When you saw Kopitar lift that pass to Brown, he said they had tried it before but never connected. Is that the time when maybe you can try it, or were you nervous and did not like it?

Murray: “It’s just to get it going north. That was the most important thing. You wonder if it’s going to be an offside. I’ve only seen that play connect one time before, ever. It was a pretty creative move.

“Actually just to release pressure it’s the right kind of move to make too. Get it over the top. The old moon shot. Then you just hope that maybe something happens off of it.”

Murray also said Tuesday that he plans to start Jonathan Quick on Wednesday against the Coyotes and is leaning toward starting Jonathan Bernier on Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers at Staples Center. Through Monday’s games quick ranked third in the NHL with a .932 save percentage, second in goals-against average at 1.86, tied for third with four shutouts and third in wins with 18.

“The game [Monday] night was a good game for him," Murray said of Quick. "He’s been playing a very good game here in the last while too. Just get him right back into it.”

Murray said he hadn’t made a firm decision on Thursday’s starting goalie but Bernier is likely to get the nod. “He’s played pretty well too in his last couple starts. And there’s no need, necessarily, to go back to back with Quicker right now,” Murray said.

He also said he will wait until Wednesday morning to judge the readiness of left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, who missed Monday’s game because of a lower-body injury. “He seemed to be walking a lot better [Monday] night but that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot when it comes to skating,” Murray said. If Ponikarovsky can play, his return would likely be the only change from Monday’s lineup.

And on his night off, Murray planned to scout the Coyotes against the Ducks on Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena.

Etc.

Kings prospect Brayden Schenn had a goal and four assists in Canada's 7-2 rout of the Czech Republic at the world junior championships.

-- Helene Elliott, in Glendale, Ariz.

 

 

Final at Staples Center: Kings 4, Ducks 1

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The Kings on Sunday picked up where they left off before the Christmas break. Unfortunately for the Ducks, they did the same.

Dustin Brown had a goal and an assist, Marco Sturm earned his first point as a King in his third game, and Jonathan Bernier stopped 18 shots to lead the Kings to a 4-1 victory before an announced standing-room-only crowd of 18,313 at Staples Center.

It was the fourth triumph in five games for the Kings (21-12-1) and fourth loss in five games for the Ducks (18-17-4).

All the scoring came during the second period.

The Kings struck first, 15 seconds in. Matt Greene took a shot from the right point that ended up in a crowd and was deflected by Kyle Clifford. Michal Handzus swatted at it but it went off the stick of Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler and to the left side of the slot. Wayne Simmonds was stationed there for the short shot and his eighth goal this season, although its only his first at home.

That lead didn’t last long. Ryan Getzlaf controlled the puck along the boards in the Kings’ zone and passed it to the blue line for Toni Lydman, whose long shot was deflected by Matt Beleskey at the 47-second mark.

A classic counterattack enabled the Kings to regain the lead at 9:10 of the second period. The Ducks had been putting some pressure on Bernier but Brown controlled the puck in his own zone and made a long lead pass to Anze Kopitar. Jonas Hiller stopped the first shot but the rebound went to the left side, where Sturm pounced on it. Hiller stopped that, too, but Kopitar potted the rebound to extend his team-leading goal total to 15.

A giveaway by the Ducks in their own zone created an opportunity for Justin Williams to score the Kings’ third goal, at 12:55. Joffrey Lupul had the puck in his feet but couldn’t play it cleanly, giving Williams the chance to steal it and walk in on Hiller until he was about 20 feet out and lift a wrist shot.

Good puck movement on the power play generated the Kings’ fourth goal, at 17:57 of the second period, the last shot Hiller saw before he was yanked and replaced by Curtis McElhinney. Jack Johnson, playing the left point, passed to Drew Doughty, who shot through a crowd. The puck came out to the slot, where Brown rifled it home for his 14th goal this season.

Look for more later at www.latimes.com/sports

--Helene Elliott

Photo: The Kings' Wayne Simmonds ends up on top of the Ducks' Corey Perry after the two squared off during the third period Sunday at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Kings, Ducks ready for Boxing Day game

Bernier_300 Happy day after Christmas, or Boxing Day to our Canadian friends.

The Kings and Ducks arrived at Staples Center on Sunday before workers were finished changing the surface after the Clippers’ victory over Phoenix, a game that started at noon. The Staples crew is accustomed to quick changeovers but this one was tight — and the quality of the ice, which stays beneath the court and can be iffy under the best of circumstances, is sure to be dubious.

The Kings will have a new/old look for their game against the Ducks. Jonathan Bernier got the start in goal, and Coach Terry Murray said the rookie would get at least one more start in the upcoming stretch of four games in five nights. He said he wasn’t sure which game Bernier will play, but he’s trying to make sure Jonathan Quick gets rest and that Bernier regains his confidence and can be a reliable backup.

Bernier won his last start, at Nashville on Dec. 18, one of only three wins in his eight starts. But Murray said he was encouraged by Bernier’s performance in that game.

“I saw a player who has more of an aggressive attitude, challenged shooters, looked very confident after being out of the lineup for an extended period of time but came back and showed the confidence to the team that he was ready. He was solid,” Murray said.

In addition, Marco Sturm will start the game on the top line, with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Brad Richardson, who had been on the left side, moved to the fourth line with Trevor Lewis and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

Sturm played there late in the Kings’ 3-2 victory over Edmonton on Thursday after being eased back into the lineup on the fourth line.

“I think it’s time to just get him going. He’s got a couple of games under his belt now,” Murray said. “I spoke with him this morning before the practice about getting back into hockey and skating and feeling good again and he said he felt much better in the third period, more instinctive in his game.”

The timing isn’t there yet. “I’m going to push him a little bit on this,” Murray said. “I don’t want to say, ‘OK, take your time to get into it.’ You’ve got to demand a little bit more and he has to put some pressure on himself to get going.

Continue reading »

Kings' defense hurting: Mitchell is week-to-week, Greene is back in L.A. for tests

Greetings from Nashville, where a Garth Brooks concert prevented the Kings from practicing at Bridgestone Arena on Friday and sent them to the Predators’ practice rink near Vanderbilt University.

Defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell missed practice and won’t play Saturday.

Greene, still feeling the effects of a hit to the head Monday at Detroit, stayed overnight in St. Louis before returning Friday morning to Los Angeles. He’s scheduled to undergo tests to determine why he has been feeling wobbly and will be reevaluated next week.

Mitchell, who suffered an unspecified lower-body injury during the Kings’ 6-4 loss at St. Louis on Thursday, saw a doctor in Nashville on Friday afternoon and a club spokesman said the veteran defenseman is week-to-week. He will stay with the team and get treatment while the team finishes this five-game trip.

And lest we forget … forward Brad Richardson, back in L.A. with what’s believed to be a concussion, has been riding the bike and skated in El Segundo on Friday. His status is day-to-day.

The defense pairs Friday were Rob Scuderi-Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson-Peter Harrold and Alec Martinez-Davis Drewiske.

Murray said he planned to speak to General Manager Dean Lombardi about calling someone up before Saturday’s game against the Predators because that’s the first in a back-to-back sequence that ends at Chicago, so the pairs could change. But Lombardi later said via e-mail that he's holding off because of roster issues for the upcoming holiday trade freeze and the possibility of Marco Sturm being activated in the next few days.

One notable change up front: Kyle Clifford was skating on the left with Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds, in place of Alexei Ponikarovsky. Clifford got considerable time in that spot Thursday and apparently isn’t giving back to Ponikarovsky.

Or, as Murray put it, “I wasn’t real pleased with what was going on with the other player on that left side, to be quite honest.”

Ouch.

Murray also said Sturm has looked so good in practice he might get the newly acquired left wing into the lineup sooner than he expected. Murray had planned to get Sturm into the lineup next Wednesday but could do that before this trip ends Tuesday at Denver.

Also, Jonathan Bernier will start in goal, ending Jonathan Quick’s streak of eight straight starts. This had been scheduled for a while because Bernier shut out the Predators here March 30 and beat them at Staples Center Nov. 6 for the last of his two victories this season.
We’ll have more later at www.latimes.com/sports

-- Helene Elliott in Nashville

Moller finds home on the wing; Miller finds ice is slippery

Oscar Moller, drafted as a center, has been on the right wing in the two games he has played since he was recalled from Manchester of the American Hockey League last Friday, and he's likely to stay on the wing.

Moller, generously listed by the Kings as 5-foot-10, has had difficulty competing against some of the behemoths who play center. He has been playing alongside Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll, and he scored a tap-in goal Monday in the Kings’ 5-0 victory at Detroit.

So far, Coach Terry Murray has liked what Moller has done.

“He’s a very courageous player for a smaller guy. He plays in the heavy going. He takes some big hits. And he’s involved,” Murray said Thursday after the Kings’ game-day skate at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

“He has the right idea now on angling. His body position and [defensive]-zone coverage is much improved. There’re other parts of the game that he gets drifting away sometimes from what needs to get done, but that’s a young player learning to figure out what the NHL game is all about on a consistent basis.

“But he’s much improved from year one, and he’s going to be a good player in the National Hockey League, there’s no question. We said that the day we sent him down from training camp, that he can play in the league right now somewhere.”

For now, somewhere is on the wing.

“I like big center-ice men. Maybe it’s just my opinion. He can play center some places, but I think he’s more of a winger,” Murray said.

Moller is fine with playing the wing and said he spent most of his time at Manchester on the wing.

“I probably feel more comfortable with that right now than playing center,” said Moller, who played 34 games for the Kings last season and had four goals and seven points. “It’s fun to be up again. I’m just going to try and make the most of it and try and contribute and enjoy the time I get.”

He said he hadn’t had much trouble adjusting to his new line mates.

“I’ve just got to try and read off them,” he said. “Smitty really likes working around the net and in front of the net, so I’m trying to get the puck low to him sometimes and try to create stuff out of that. I want to try to attack with speed too.”

A few notes:

*Defenseman Rob Scuderi, who needed 25 stitches to close a cut on his lip caused by a high stick, wore a mouth guard Thursday morning and said he would wear it in Thursday’s game if it wasn’t too uncomfortable. “I don’t want to have stitches again,” he said.

*Bob Miller, the TV voice of the Kings, suffered an upper-body injury Wednesday. OK, it was a sprained wrist, the result of a fall on the icy sidewalks of St. Louis. Miller said he put ice packs on the hand and was grateful it wasn’t broken. His vocal cords are fine, and he will be in the broadcast booth, as usual.

*Murray was asked about Detroit’s 51 shots on goal Monday, and though he acknowledged the Kings gave up a lot of good scoring chances, he didn’t seem angry.

One possible reason: The same off-ice officials who counted 51 shots for the Red Wings also credited Kings defenseman Matt Greene with playing three shifts in the second period even though Greene never got onto the ice. He was shaken by a first-period hit from Niklas Kronwall and wasn’t given medical clearance to play after the opening period. He won't play Thursday against the Blues.

“You can go into a lot of buildings and recount the shots after the game and there’s going to be a big change in numbers sometimes,” Murray said. “It was what it was, but we’ve got to focus on this game tonight.

“The year I scouted for the Flyers, I sat up there, beside the guys who count the shots, and they’re a long way away. It’s hard from up there to see what’s going on and keep track of everybody. But I saw the process and I was thinking, ‘Wow.’ That was my reaction when I came away. ‘Is that how it’s done?’ ”

*Murray’s goaltending plan has Jonathan Quick starting against the Blues on Thursday, Jonathan Bernier starting at Nashville on Saturday and Quick starting Sunday at Chicago. Bernier hasn’t played since Nov. 24 at Montreal.

“It’s just time for Bernier to get in. He’s been working very hard at his game. He’s been putting a lot of attention in practice,” Murray said. “The goalie coaches have been around a couple times now to give him a little refocus on some of the technical sides of the game, and he’s ready to get playing.”

More later at www.latimes.com/sports.
-- Helene Elliott in St. Louis

Kings change goalie schedule, move Drewiske up to left wing against Detroit

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Coach Terry Murray said he has “erased everything” from the goalie schedule he had drawn up for games through the start of January to give Jonathan Quick more work and backup Jonathan Bernier less work.

Before Saturday’s games Quick ranked fourth in the NHL with a 1.92 goals-against average, tied for sixth in wins (12) and sixth in save percentage at .928 in 17 appearances. Bernier, widely projected to be a rookie of the year candidate, has struggled in compiling a 3.29 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. He has lost his last three starts and is 2-5-0 this season.

Quick was always scheduled to face the Western Conference-leading Detroit Red Wings Saturday night at Staples Center and that will happen. But Murray said Bernier won’t be ignored in the coming weeks.

“With the schedule being what it is right now I’m looking at Quick playing the majority of those games,” Murray said after the Kings’ morning skate in El Segundo.

“I like the way Bernier is practicing, the way his game is coming together again in the drills. So I’m not going to leave him sit there for the rest of the month and not give him some opportunities. We have some games coming up that I’m going to take a look at. Certainly, post-Christmas there’s four in five nights. There’s got to be something there.”

Murray said Bernier benefited from a three days’ work here last week with Kim Dillabaugh, who is in charge of goaltending development. Bill Ranford, the goaltending coach, has also worked with both goalies.

Continue reading »

Final in Montreal: Canadiens 4, Kings 1

Bernier_400 This was a thrashing, a whipping, an embarrassment, a listless and timid effort by the Kings that made all the good they accomplished in the first few weeks of the season seem like a mirage.

They were outhit, outworked, outclassed and outsmarted Wednesday in a 4-1 loss to the Canadiens at the jubilant Bell Centre, making goaltender Jonathan Bernier’s homecoming a nightmare instead of the dream he had long cherished.

The Kings’ fifth defeat in six games could not be blamed on Bernier, who grew up in nearby Laval. As a team they played so badly in their defensive zone that no goalie could have fared much better—not Jonathan Quick or the ghosts of Jacques Plante and Georges Vezina combined.

The Canadiens are fast and skilled, and they've won six of their last eight games. But the Kings' helplessness made them look that much more commanding.

The Kings (13-8-0) haven’t won in Montreal since Dec. 11, 1999, though that’s only five games because of the unbalanced schedule and the season lost to the lockout. But the way they played Wednesday in ending a 1-3 trip won’t win them many games against anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Montreal’s Andrei Kostitsyn and Michael Cammalleri scored first-period goals — a scoring change gave that second goal to the former King after replays showed his shot deflected off a Kings player — and Tomas Plekanec and Lars Eller gave the Canadiens a comfortable cushion in the second period, after Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, recalled Tuesday from Manchester of the American Hockey League, had scored a power-play goal to cut Montreal’s lead to 2-1.

Martinez’s goal was the only shot among 25 to elude goalie Carey Price, who has appeared in all but one game this season for the Canadiens (14-7-1).

The Kings were scheduled to take a charter flight home to Los Angeles after the game, a trip that surely couldn’t be pleasant. But neither was their performance Wednesday.

More later at www.latimes.com/sports

Helene Elliott in Montreal

Photo: Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier. Credit: Graham Hughes / Associated Press

 

After two periods in Montreal: Canadiens 4, Kings 1

The Kings pulled within 2-1 early in the second period but the Canadiens quickly re-established a two-goal lead and controlled every aspect of the game.

They were faster, stronger and grittier than the Kings and camped out in front of Jonathan Bernier with no fear of being muscled out of the way by a timid Kings defense. No surprise, then, that they built a commanding 4-1 lead through the first 40 minutes.

Play as badly as the Kings did in their own zone and it doesn’t matter whether the goaltender is Bernier, Jonathan Quick or the ghost of Jacques Plante — you’re going to struggle and more than likely lose.

The one positive note for the Kings was that defenseman Alec Martinez, summoned from Manchester on Tuesday to help the feeble power play, did his job by scoring on a nifty rising backhander from the right circle at 1:57. Hall Gill was in the penalty box for interference when the Kings set up in Montreal’s zone. Justin Williams took a long shot that rebounded to Martinez, who recorded his first NHL goal with that 20-foot backhander.

But Montreal made it 3-1 at 3:16. Andrei Kostitsyn’s shot was stopped, but the rebound came to Brian Gionta to the side of the net. He passed back to Tomas Plekanec, who rifled a shot past Bernier to the delight of the loud and spirited crowd at the Bell Centre.

Lars Eller’s first goal of the season stretched Montreal’s lead to 4-1 at 18:07 and sparked derisive cheers from the crowd directed toward Bernier, though he was hardly alone in deserving the razzing.

Montreal outshot the Kings, 15-7, in the period for a 25-16 edge through 40 minutes.

More later at www.latimes.com/sports

Helene Elliott in Montreal


 

After one in Montreal: Canadiens 2, Kings 0

Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who grew up in the nearby suburb of Laval, had about 60 friends and relatives in the crowd at the Bell Centre. They undoubtedly suffered along with him as the Canadiens took a 2-0 lead.

Montreal scored on its lone power play of the period, gained when Jack Johnson was sent off for holding Brian Gionta. The Kings had a short-handed break, with Anze Kopitar coming up the left side, but he was well defended and he held onto the puck too long to have a good angle. He tried to throw it in front for Matt Greene, but the Canadiens gained possession and made a quick transition up ice that ended with Andrei Kostitsyn scoring on a wrist shot from about 25 feet out.

The teams were skating four on four when Montreal struck again. The Canadiens entered the zone and moved the puck around quickly and accurately to set up a shot. Former King Michael Cammalleri passed to Roman Hamrlik, who returned the pass and Cammalleri took a long shot. With Scott Gomez in front crowding Bernier and maybe making enough contact to warrant an interference call, the puck deflected past Bernier at 17:37.

Gomez was credited with the goal, his third of the season.

One of referees, incidentally, was Eric Furlatt, who was involved in two controversial calls that went against the Kings on Monday in Ottawa. He appeared to get an earful from Coach Terry Murray more than once while passing the Kings’ bench.

More later at www.latimes.com/sports
Helene Elliott in Montreal

Jonathan Bernier happy to play in hometown, Alec Martinez happy to play anywhere

Bernier1 Greetings from Montreal, where a rainy morning has turned into a sunny and pleasant afternoon.

The Kings, who took a bus from Ottawa to Montreal following their 3-2 loss to the Senators on Monday, skated Tuesday at the Canadiens’ spacious practice complex in Brossard, south of downtown Montreal. 

Awaiting them were about a dozen local reporters -- more exactly, those reporters were waiting for Jonathan Bernier, who grew up in nearby Laval and on Wednesday will face the team whose iconic uniform he once dreamed of wearing.

“It’s going to be a great night,” said Bernier, who claimed he gave up counting the number of tickets he had arranged for once the number passed 60. “I can’t really put any pressure on myself. It’s another game and I’ve just got to focus on details and not really focus on the big picture -- being in Montreal, in front of my family. I’ve just got to take that as positive.”

He said he had been watching the Canadiens for a long time and that, as a youngster, he envisioned himself in their lineup. “When you’re young you see yourself out there,” he said. “I was hoping to get drafted by Montreal when I was young, but now it’s going to be a great feeling, obviously.”

The game is important for him and for the Kings beyond the homecoming aspect.

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