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Kings Gameday: Re-Por-Ting?

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Vancouver Canucks
@ Los Angeles Kings

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009, 7:30 PM PDT
STAPLES Center

Complete Coverage >


Nucks Misconduct is a lot easier to type than "Vancouver Canucks." Try it, it's like doing a somersault with your fingers.


Hey, so this is cool. I discovered this new thing called "Journalism." Yeah I know, weird word, right? Anyway, what you do is you find someone who knows stuff, which is called "information." Then you ask them "questions" and they give you "answers." Then you write down what they say and tell other people. Crazy!

Anyway, I got in touch with Vadim Kuznetsov, an excellent reporter from Russia, to ask him what he thought about the whole Frolov thing and Russians in general. Here's what he said:


What do you think are the major differences in playing style between North Americans and Russians?

It's tough to say. There is a big differense between KHL and NHL games, but the Russian national team can use the same playing style as North Americans. And sometimes they do actually. In KHL some teams just don't use hits at all. They can skate around passing a puck for 60 minutes with no hitting and no body-checking. Sometimes i think they even don't want to shoot a puck. :) Mostly it's because of the referees who whistle whenever guys push each other, although they often miss slashings and dirty plays. But if you look at Russian players who are NHL'ers I guess they can play the Canadian style easily. Look at Ovechkin or Kovalchuk. These guys can score, pass, use their bodies to make plays and hit opponents. Take Artyukhin from Ducks. When I see him playing in the NHL, I have doubts if he was born in Russia.

Yeah, most of Russians who were in NHL before didn't like to play tough but I think it's changing fast. Generally, you won't discover America saying that Russian players do have better technique, that they skate better and probably play just a bit smarter than North Americans. But at the same time there are lot of Canadians who can do with the puck whatever they want to, skate like Tara Lipinski and create goals from nothing. These are two best teams in the World and they would never win using only their own style.

Do you think Russians are unfairly criticized in the NHL? Why or why not?


2. Really hard to say yes or no. We do criticise North Americans who play in KHL as well. If someone who was drafted ten years ago by Red Wings in 7th round does not score 30-35 points per season, people start to complain, saying that there is no need to have Canadian players (or players from any other country) in Russia. I think it's like this everywhere. Once you come to a different country you have to play better than your teammates. And honestly I did not know if coaches in NHL unfairly criticize Russian players. I heard about the Murray and Frolov story, but Alex started to score after that,* so the coach might have been right. I know that Andrei Markov had big problems when he just came to NHL but now that he knows English he is the best defender in the league. Who else... Valery Bure had been criticized but he played bad during that time. Khabibulin almost left Chicago because of the coach but I never understood Nikolai's position actually. He is kind of a weird guy who has problems even with Slava Bykov (coach of the Russian national team). If you don't want to be criticized by foreign journalists, you are always welcome home.

*Fro does have 7 points in the 4 games since he was benched- RK

Isn't that amazing? Thanks, Radim! I think Radim's exactly right when he says that a lot people all over the world hold foreigners from another country to a higher standard than they do their own players. It's easy to see Matt Greene is trying because he tells you during an interview, but that same sentiment may get lost when someone like Michal Handzus is talking. But in no way does everyone do that, and I think it's important that people like you and me call out writers and commenters when they fall into that trap. Let's end hockey xenophobia together!

The more you know...

***

The Kings picked up Randy Jones off re-entry waivers today. Here's how that decision probably went down...

Ron Hextall: Hey Dean, Randy Jones was just placed on waivers. Think we should pick him up?

Dean Lombardi: What? No, why would we want another defenseman?

Ron Hextall: Well, Dean, hear me out, he's-

Dean Lombardi: -No, Ron, I just don't think it's worth it.

Ron Hextall: Dean, listen to me! He gets injured a lot.

Dean Lombardi: Really? That's interesting. But I still don't thi-

Ron Hextall: There's more. He played for Philadelphia.

Dean Lombardi: My God. In that case, I'd guess we'd better...

*Puts sunglasses on

...Take a flyer on him.

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't know, Randy Jones has been bothered by a hip injury for while now and Flyers fans turn beet red when you mention his name; on the other hand, he is more offensively-minded that most of the defensemen we have and Jones would be another name in a long list of Philadelphia athletes that were unfairly blamed for... something. Whatever, he's only costing the Kings $1.35 million and they could probably get him through waivers if they want to send him back down. I think. Waiver rules are complicated.

***

I was pretty happy with yesterday's game even though the Kings lost in the shootout. It was weird, it was like watching two mirror images trying to fight one another. The top lines (composed of an elite center, a newly acquired left wing and a replacement for an injured right winger) pretty much played even, unable to really establish dominance in the game; the much maligned left wingers on the 2nd lines ended up creating a goal for themselves against makeshift third lines; and the capable goaltenders who play a vast majority of the games for their teams were stellar. Of course, the Sharks were also missing Joe Pavelski and Torrey Mitchell and when they have those two guys they're the best team in the league, but as the teams were comprised I thought the Kings more than held their own.

Of course, when Frolov didn't come out to take the shootout I was apoplectic, but that's another story...

***

The Kings get another crack at a wounded opponent, just like they have against Dallas, Columbus and San Jose the previous three games. The Canucks are missing one of the Sedins (I can't be bothered to look up which) and their all-everything goaltender, Roberto Luongo, is out with a rib injury. (Thanks, Detroit!) The Kings have been able to capitalize on other team's injuries in the past this season so here's hoping they can do the same tonight. Still, though, Vancouver is a good team with a great defense so this game should be a tough one. The game pretty much comes down to how effective Terry Murray is at keeping Anze Kopitar away from Ryan Kesler and, since he has the last change, that should be fairly easy to do. I'm optimistic.

Prediction: Kings win, 4-3. Goals by Smyth (x2), Handzus and... screw it, Raitis Ivanans.