Waking up with the Kings: March 12
-Roughly half of the chicken scratch I jotted down last night dealt with the Kings’ ability to get sticks and bodies in shooting and passing lanes, or Jarret Stoll. Often, it was a combination of the two. An accurate representation of Los Angeles’ penalty killing success came during Calgary’s extended power play time early in the third when Stoll blocked a shot with his skate, hobbled to the bench, and returned on his next shift to dive and poke a loose puck out of the zone. If you were watching at home or in the arena or listening along, you remember the plays. They were easy plays to remember. Stoll’s faceoff percentage is a team-best 54.9% (amongst those who have taken more than one faceoff), he has eight more blocked shots than any other forward, he ranks second on the team in the somewhat nebulous statistic of “hits” and he leads all forwards in shorthanded time on ice. On paper, that sounds like an ideal third line center. There have been concerns over the amount of penalties he takes. Stoll’s nine minor penalties are the most amongst forwards, and he was dinged for five minors during a three-game stretch against Vancouver, Nashville and St. Louis. I welcome this conversation – and I understand it is easy to say this the morning after one of his stronger performances of the season – but I’m willing to live with the occasional-to-semi-frequent minor penalty as a trade-off for the committed, physical, gritty defensive efforts you get from the character, veteran leader. Please share your comments below if you disagree.
-How about the confidence and assertiveness inherent in Jake Muzzin’s game right now? With the Kings leading by one, he picked the right time to hold his position along the boards on the attacking blueline, where he offered Roman Cervenka a more subtle head fake to the one he showed Saku Koivu of the Ducks prior to his power play goal on February 25. Cervenka bit on the play before Muzzin advanced towards the tops of the circles and found a wide open Stoll, whose glove-side snipe served as the game-winner. The play began when Muzzin disrupted a Flames advance through the neutral zone before chipping the puck deep to set the play up. Muzzin, who ranks third in rookie defensive scoring with 10 points and is tied for seventh overall amongst defensemen with a plus-11 rating, has shown improvement in the decisions to pick his spots. Look for a feature on Muzzin tomorrow on LAKings.com.
-Darryl Sutter has previously referred to Alec Martinez as a “teen-minute player”, and the 25-year-old didn’t reach the “teen-minute” mark for the second time since returning from an upper-body injury, logging a defensive team-low 12:08 of ice time. Though he blocked three shots, he gave Mikael Backlund a cushion and was beaten one-on-one by the center for Calgary’s only goal. With the statuses of Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell still up in the air, the Kings – like just about every NHL team – will be kicking the tires on some stay-at-home types prior to the April 3 trading deadline. How would Martinez’s status be impacted? Might he potentially be a fairly valuable piece of that hypothetical trade?