Printer Friendly

KINGS MIDSEASON REPORT: KINGS SOMEHOW KEEP CONTENDING INJURIES CAN'T HALT PLAYOFF PUSH.

Byline: Matt McHale Staff Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Kings general manager Dave Taylor left Monday for the annual winter general managers meetings after giving a multiyear deal to coach Andy Murray.

Now the real work begins.

With 28 games left in the final 60 days of the regular season, the Kings (21-15-13-5) are ninth in the tightly bunched Western Conference with 60 points.

They also have the same point total as the St. Louis Blues, who are sixth. The difference? The Blues have 26 victories, the Kings 21. Even Nashville, which holds the eighth and final playoff spot, has five more wins than the Kings.

During their 14-game winless streak from Dec. 18 to Jan. 16, the Kings had 11 points with nine ties and two overtime losses. But they weren't winning games and that could cost them in the end.

``We can't look at it that way,'' Kings wing Ian Laperriere said. ``After all the injuries, nobody thought we could be this close except us. There is no reason we can't reach the playoffs.''

Although Murray, who received a three-year deal worth $2.7 million, bristles at the word, the Kings have overachieved this season.

They have not played one shift with top center Jason Allison (whiplash) or Adam Deadmarsh (concussion). Ziggy Palffy was lost for the season last month after undergoing shoulder surgery.

The Kings have played most of the year without defenseman Aaron Miller, whose wrist and neck injuries have cost him 34 games.

When the final chapter is written about this season, it could be said that the Kings missed Miller more than any player. The team has struggled all year getting the puck out of its end and into the opponent's zone.

Throw in a month lost by captain Mattias Norstrom, newcomer Martin Straka, centers Jozef Stumpel and Derek Armstrong and seven weeks by rookie Dustin Brown, and it is hard to imagine the club being this close.

It makes it difficult to accurately put a mark on this team for the Daily News' annual report card.

Murray has been mentioned as an NHL coach of the year candidate, but that only will happen if the Kings reach the playoffs.

The club has received contributions from each player, from a midseason fill-in job by backup goaltender Cristobal Huet to 10 goals by checking- line center Eric Belanger.

Second-year player Alexander Frolov has blossomed with 18 goals and veteran Luc Robitaille has responded after a mid-season slump to add 14.

Trent Klatt, last summer's big free-agent signing, has scored 13 goals and been a valuable leader in the dressing room. Lubomir Visnovsky has been one of the league's leading scorers for defensemen. But like the rest of the team, no mention of Visnovsky can be made without adding: ``If he stays healthy.''

The Kings were hoping to have him back for tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild, 10 days after he suffered a strained right shoulder in Edmonton, Alberta.

He missed 25 games last season. This year, he has suffered a concussion, neck strain and now a shoulder injury. By not making the Kings' five-game trip, Visnovsky won't return until at least Feb. 18 against Dallas.

``People say we've overachieved,'' Murray said. ``But I think we have a lot more talent here than people give us credit for. We've gotten this far and we are going to make the playoffs.''

Matt McHale, (818) 713-3622

matt.mchale(at)dailynews.com

REPORT CARD

FORWARDS

C+

Without Jason Allison, Ziggy Palffy, Adam Deadmarsh, Martin Straka and Dustin Brown, the Kings have struggled to patch together four consistent lines. Alexander Frolov is a star in the making and Luc Robitaille has rebounded from a slow start. Could use more toughness, especially as the games get more physical in the final weeks.

DEFENSE

C-

Kings thought they had depth here but without Aaron Miller, Tim Gleason, Tomas Zizka and Maxim Kuznetsov are not ready for prime time. Losing Lubomir Visnovsky hurts puck movement and there is no one to replace him.

GOALTENDING

C

Roman Cechmanek improved during the three weeks before the break, but his meltdown Tuesday in Calgary was proof the club is shaky in net. Cristobal Huet is solid but only as a backup.

SPECIAL TEAMS

C-

Power Play - Three years ago they were the best in the league. Now they are 24th. Ziggy Palffy was their best option at creating and scoring. When Lubomir Visnovsky is healthy, he puts pucks on the net.

Penalty Killing - A miserable start put them last in the league the first month. Only slightly better now but has big problems getting the puck out of their end.

COACH

A

Perhaps unfair to give Andy Murray all the credit, but his system has helped them get through injuries and a lot further than expected. Hard work plus dump-and-chase pressure are part of Murray's philosophy and earned him a new contract.

CAPTION(S):

photo, 2 boxes

Photo:

Kings coach Andy Murray gets an A for keeping his injury-plagued team in contention for a playoff berth this season.

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Box:

(1) REPORT CARD (see text)

(2) KINGS at MINNESOTA

- Matt McHale
COPYRIGHT 2004 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Feb 10, 2004
Words:858
Previous Article:9TH CIRCUIT BLOCKS COOPER EXECUTION.
Next Article:HOORAY FROM HOLLYWOOD EXPERTS SAY LIBERAL GLITTERATI WILL TURN TO KERRY.


Related Articles
ANALYSIS: THE PROMISED LAND KINGS ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH TO FIND LORD STANLEY'S CUP.
KINGS NOTEBOOK: KINGS HIT THE ROAD FOR CRUCIAL STRETCH.
ROBINSON'S LEARNING EXPERIENCE : KINGS' FIRST-YEAR COACH FACED IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION.
COMING CLOSE DOESN'T CUT IT.
KINGS' BOSS PUTS SKATE DOWN LEIWEKE GIVES TEAM 2 WEEKS TO REFORM ... OR ELSE.
KINGS HURT BY MORE THAN INJURIES THIS YEAR.
LAKERS' PAIN IS KINGS' GAIN.
PLAYOFF PATH LAID OUT.
KINGS NOTEBOOK: LEAGUE WANTS MORE HONESTY.
L.A. RALLIES FOR WIN COACH TORCHETTI VICTORIOUS IN DEBUT KINGS 6, NASHVILLE 4.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters