Emerson on Spence, QMJHL defensive POY; ann’y of Game 2 comeback, Carter hat trick

CARTRILOGY | Of Jeff Carter’s eight career hat tricks, two have come in Game 2 of Western Conference Final series. The second was on a Wednesday night in Chicago six years ago today, and Carter, like his teammates, had his lines memorized, his part down pat. Spotting their opponents their familiar two-goal advantage, L.A.’s thunderous response actually began on a puck Justin Williams out-battled Patrick Sharp to shuffleboard between Corey Crawford and the far post and get the Kings on the scoreboard with under a minute and a half to play in the second period. From there, Carter tied it, Jake Muzzin’s clapper won it, and they added three more to punctuate their only five-goal period of the 2012 or 2014 runs and their first since Wayne Gretzky (2), Luc Robitaille, Jari Kurri and Tomas Sandstrom scored against Vancouver at The Forum to close out Game 3 of the Smythe Division Final in 1993. Yeah, that team had some above-average firepower.

Five-goal LA Kings periods in the playoffs:

5/21/14 @ Chicago (3rd period)
5/7/93 vs Vancouver (3rd period)
4/10/90 vs Calgary (2nd period)
4/7/82 @ Edmonton (2nd period)
4/10/82 vs Edmonton (3rd period)

There was a shortage of hotel rooms in Chicago in both 2013 and 2014. This didn’t affect the team or hockey executives beyond the occasional use of hotels they otherwise wouldn’t stay at. For other traveling staff and media, we made do. I believe we nabbed a hotel in the city on this particular trip, but we had to split time at an AirB&B condo off Michigan Avenue and a Rosemont hotel within the O’Hare cluster later in the series. If my memory serves me correctly, the team stayed in a nondescript neighborhood at an off-the-beaten-path hotel prior to Game 7. I looked back in my notes, but I don’t recall anyone asking Darryl Sutter about that, nor do I have confirmation there was a purpose for such spartan accommodation (there almost certainly was), or whether it was due to the lack of inventory on limited notice.

Perhaps the most memorable stays took place in 2013 as Comicon-type conventions one week apart used our San Jose and Chicago hotels as epicenters. When we checked in to our San Jose hotel one bright afternoon in the ’13 series, tens-of-thousands of cosplayers had descended upon downtown. It was a noisy lobby. If anyone has audio of Darryl interacting with cosplayers in the elevator, I’d reward you handsomely.

THE SIXTH SPENCE | Jordan Spence is the recipient of the Emile Bouchard Trophy, presented annually to the QMJHL’s defenseman of the year. The 2019 fourth round pick was also a finalist for the Kevin Lowe Trophy, awarded to the league’s best defensive defenseman. He recorded nine goals and 52 points in 60 games, but it was the 5-foot-10 defender’s defensive acumen and positioning that stood out in his development.

Science has proven that if you win this award, there’s a one-in-three chance you’re going to be “real good.”

2019-20: Jordan Spence
2018-19: Olivier Galipieau
2016-17: Thomas Chabot
2015-16: Samuel Girard
2014-15: Jan Kostalek
2013-14: Guillaume Gelinas
2012-13: Kevin Gagne
2011-12: Jerome Gauthier-Leduc
2010-11: Simon Despres
2009-10: David Savard
2008-09: Dmitri Kulikov
2007-08: Marc-Andre Bourdon
2006-07: Kris Letang
2005-06: Keith Yandle
2004-05: Mario Scalzo
2003-04: Doug O’Brien
2002-03: Maxime Fortunus
2001-02: Danny Groulx
2000-01: Marc-Andre Bergeron
1999-00: Michel Periard
1988-99: Jiri Fischer

Andre Ringuette/NHLI

I’d heard a little bit of chatter about a potential ELC for Spence last September, when he’d been going through training camp rotations in a main group rather than a group dotted with major junior guys and players on AHL contracts. He played a preseason game at Staples Center as an 18-year-old, another good sign for a player who four years ago passed through the QMJHL draft.

“Any time a kid deals with adversity – and not only deals with it, but just smashes through it – it’s a huge plus for us,” Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti said of Spence last summer. “Most of these kids, these kids aren’t handed anything because they’ve worked their asses off for it, but these kids don’t deal with adversity. They’re the best players who are put on the best team and get to play with the best people and get to have the best facilities – that’s their station in life. Most of their kids don’t deal with adversity until they get to the pros, so anytime a kid is showing at 13, 14 that he can deal with adversity, that’s a pretty promising trait in my opinion.”

Click here and here for hometown coverage of Spence’s season. For more on his development, I checked in with LA Kings Director of Player Personnel Nelson Emerson this morning.

Nelson Emerson, on Jordan Spence’s development in 2019-20:
We’re happy for him and really proud of what he’s done. He took it upon himself to be a real leader in that group, where he’s at. I think he’s really taken his game to another level, and we’re excited with his progress. We talk to Mike O’Connell and Sean O’Donnell who we work with in development, and why he’s had so much success is defensively he’s always been in the right position, and from there he can use his assets which are his hockey sense, his hockey IQ, and offensively he’s able to make terrific plays. So, good for him – we’re really happy for him.

Emerson, on Spence using his defensive foundation to create offense:
If we talk to Mike O’Connell or Sean O’Donnell, they really believe it takes a long time to develop those smarts and IQ defensively, and it seems like he’s a little ahead of the curve there. He seems to always be on the right spots on the ice, and from there, he can use his other assets. Look at the amount of assists he had this year – he had 43 for the second year in a row – but you’ve got to give him credit for what he’s done. He’s always playing with his head up, and doing that, it makes players around him better.

Dave Sandford/NHLI

DOIN’S A TRANSPIRIN’ | Actual news. Click here for Frank Seravalli’s report on logistics towards a 24-team playoff format, here for Pierre LeBrun’s ($) and here for Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston’s. We’re getting closer to an announcement towards a potential resumption of play as the NHL and NBA attempt to wedge the conclusions of their seasons into a so-called window before a projected spike in coronavirus cases later in the year. Nick Cotsonika of NHL.com has more here.


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