Can this guy make the Los Angeles Kings even better?

Ronnie Shuker
MPrice-HeadShot

You won’t recognize the name Matt Price, and the Los Angeles Kings are just fine with that.

Despite being hockey’s Hollywood team, the Kings are less glitz ’n’ glamor cool and more blood ’n’ guts tough. And as their new strength and conditioning coach, Price brings the same no nonsense, no excuses attitude that’s been L.A.’s M.O. under GM Dean Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter.

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Bruins beat Flyers in second round – does EA stand for ‘Errors Abound’?

(Image courtesy EA Sports.)

No need to play the 2014-15 season, National Hockey League. Yes, that may cut into the $4 billion in revenues you’re expected to generate, but think of the cost savings for teams that lose money.

Really, why actually play a season when a simulated NHL season has already been played, the Stanley Cup has been awarded and all the awards winners have already been determined? That’s what EA Sports, creators of the NHL 15 video game, have done. And they’ve determined that the Los Angeles Kings will become the first back-to-back Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and ’98. Read more

Drew Doughty disses analytics, accidentally disses himself

Matt Larkin
Drew Doughty calls advanced stats 'crap', but those very stats point out his dominance as a player. (Getty Images)

Of all people to speak out against advanced stats… Drew Doughty?

That’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking out against explosions. Or Psy saying he hates one-hit wonders. Or Jack Edwards lamenting the homerism in today’s broadcasters.

Drew, no. Please. You are the unofficial poster child for advanced statistics. You drive possession like few other players in the game. Your Corsi and Fenwick ratings are through the roof, and they’ve helped you guide your team to two Stanley Cups in three years.

OK, so maybe Jake Muzzin is the actual analytics poster child among players, but it’s pretty clear metrics like Corsi measure team performance better than they do individual performance. That’s why pretty much the entire Kings roster ranks among the league leaders in possession stats, and it’s a big reason why Muzzin is the league’s reigning Corsi champion. He was a solid find for GM Dean Lombardi, but Muzzin keeps great company as Doughty’s partner.

So if we accept Doughty is the league’s true stats darling, it’s disconcerting to learn he can’t stand the concept. Doughty to L.A. Kings Insider, when asked about Muzzin’s Corsi rating:

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Is it fair to compare the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl to the Kings’ Anze Kopitar?

Ryan Kennedy
Leon Draisaitl (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Player comparisons are fraught with peril, especially when teenagers who have yet to see their first NHL shifts are part of the equation. On top of the age gap, there’s also a hype factor because it’s much more fun to say a smaller skilled player is the next Patrick Kane versus the next Steve Sullivan or David Desharnais, no matter which is most accurate. But when scouts saw Leon Draisaitl play for the Western League’s Prince Albert Raiders this past season, names such as Joe Thornton and Anze Kopitar came up. Keep the latter in mind, because there’s more than just one similarity between the stupendous Los Angeles Kings pivot and the growing Raiders teenager.

When the Edmonton Oilers tabbed Draisaitl with the third selection overall at the draft, they made him the highest German pick ever. Not that it was a long list, but Germany has produced a decent amount of NHLers, from Marcel Goc (the former record holder, who went 20th in 2001) to Christian Ehrhoff and Jochen Hecht. But none of those players lacerated the landschaft the way Draisaitl did. As a 15-year-old in Germany, he put up a staggering 97 goals and 192 points in (wait for it) just 29 games. He kept the same six-points-per-game pace up in the playoffs. And keep in mind, that’s not as fun as it sounds when you’re serious about your sport.

“It was never easy,” Draisaitl says. “It’s not easy to get ready for those kinds of games when you know you’re going to score a lot of goals. It’s not easy to concentrate when you know it will be a high-scoring game. I just wanted to get better every game and work hard.”
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THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Los Angeles Kings

The Hockey News
Los Angeles Kings celebrating their 2014 Stanley Cup championship. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 46-28-8

Acquisitions: David Van Der Gulik, Adam Cracknell

Departures: Colin Fraser, Willie Mitchell, LInden Vey

Top five fantasy players: Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: If L.A.’s offensive orgasm in the playoffs carries over into 2014-15, the team has a real chance at winning the Western Conference. After averaging just 2.42 goals per game last season, the Kings went nuts during the post-season, humming along at a 3.38 clip. Backed by Jonathan Quick, they already own the league’s No. 1 defense, and their playoff explosion shows they have the weapons to run with the West’s big guns during the regular season, if they only use them. Should they do so, the Presidents’ Trophy is well within reach, especially if freshly minted Marian Gaborik scores like he did in the playoffs. Read more

10 RFAs who missed training camp and how their disputes were resolved

Jamie Benn (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Ryan Johansen’s contract negotiations with the Columbus Blue Jackets are…contentious. Yesterday started with Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen drawing a line in the sand by insinuating the start of training camp as a cut off point. Later on, team president John Davidson took aim at Johansen’s agent Kurt Overhardt by saying the numbers he was throwing out made no sense and were embarrassing.

This sounds like it could be one of the bigger RFA battles the NHL has had in recent years, but there’s still a little time before training camps open. And it’s not like it would be the first time a player has missed the start of training camp with a contract dispute.

It actually used to happen a lot more in the NHL. In the 1990s, it was a regular, yearly thing most teams would have to deal with at one point or another. The only great leverage an RFA without arbitration rights has is to stay home and make the team sweat. It maybe doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but the Johansen situation is hardly unique to the NHL today. Heck, Torey Krug, Jaden Schwartz, Reilly Smith, Darcy Kuemper and Cody Eakin are going through their own, less-publicized negotiations right now too.

We take a look at some of the more recent RFAs who missed all or a portion of training camp over a contract dispute and what the outcome was. We didn’t want to look too far back at every situation because market conditions have changed, especially when looking back past the 2004-05 lockout. Anything before then is basically no influence on Johansen’s situation. Just don’t call these guys holdouts.

Derek Stepan, New York Rangers
Prior to last season, Stepan missed 16 days of training camp before settling on a bridge deal with the Rangers. Stepan ended up signing a two-year deal that has a $3.075 million salary cap charge. Read more

Why the NHL should copy baseball’s playoff format

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Noah Graham/NHL)

If the NHL playoffs were similar in spirit to Major League Baseball’s, there’s a good chance the Los Angeles Kings wouldn’t have won the Stanley Cup in 2012. They would’ve had to play the Calgary Flames in a one-game showdown just to get into the playoffs and probably would’ve lost.

More on that later, but first to the matter at hand.

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