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Blogs

ON THE ROAD WITH THE ROOKIES

Tuesday, 09.16.2008 / 11:42 PM / Blogs
By Jeremy Zager  - LAKings.com Staff Writer
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ON THE ROAD WITH THE ROOKIES
It was a toasty 97 degrees in Phoenix and the Kings and Coyotes' rookies' tempers flared early in the first game of the Kings/Coyotes Rookie Tournament. 
LAKings.com's Jeremy Zager traveled with the Kings' rookies to Phoenix, AZ for the Los Angeles Kings - Phoenix Coyotes Rookie Tournament at Jobing.com Arena.

Tuesday:
9:30 a.m. – Breakfast at the Toyota Sports Center. Seemed like a pretty popular meal, considering the players were chowing down for about an hour...Traveling PR got nothing.

10:30 a.m. – Bus to LAX. Gotta love that TSC is so close to the airport. How many people would love a five-minute ride to LAX?

11:00 a.m. Already through security and getting ready for our Southwest Flight to Phoenix at 12:30 p.m. This may have been the shortest security line in the history of LAX. So far it’s a good trip, but there seems to be a wager between the players on how hot it will be in Phoenix. Colten Teubert said “yeah but LA is hot.” He’s never been to Phoenix before. Going to be fun walking in 100-plus degree weather wearing a black suit. Talk about a pre-game work out!

(By the way. Justin Azevedo made the trip despite his right hand being in a cast. He injured it sliding into the boards earlier this summer and is expected to be out for a couple more weeks. He obviously won’t be playing in the tournament tonight and tomorrow, but Dean Lombardi wanted him to make the trip because it will be a good experience for him)

12:30 p.m. – On our way to Phoenix. ONLY supposed to be 97 degrees!

2:00 pm. – Landed and now bussing to the hotel. I think the players miss the beach weather at TSC.

4:00 pm. – After a nice pre-game meal (pasta and chicken), it’s time to head off to Jobing.com Arena. Nice arena, but in the middle of nowhere. It’s right next to the new Cardinals football stadium, which is the biggest stadium I’ve ever seen! It makes Jobing.com Arena look like a pebble.

5:30 p.m. – Teams warming up on the ice. Kind of cool to see the likes of Drew Doughty, Colten Teubert, Oscar Moller, etc wearing the purple and black out there. Players that look to be out of the lineup tonight are Azevedo (see above), Thomas Hickey, Davis Drewiske, David Meckler, Trevor Lewis, Jeff Zatkoff and Linden Rowat. I’m sure most of those guys will be in there tomorrow afternoon.

6:05 p.m. – Puck is dropped and we’re underway. Jonathan Bernier starting in net for the Kings.

6:06 pm. – Oscar Moller’s blistering shot breaks the glass behind the net. We’re going to be delayed for a bit.

6:15 p.m. – Back to action.

6:40 p.m. – End of the first period, no score. Each team registered 10 shots. Kings 0-for-2 on the power play, controlling the flow the first half of the period. Phoenix fails on two power plays late in the frame.

Highlights:

  • Loktionov making a couple nifty moves in the offensive zone
  • Doughty going coast-to-coast to draw a penalty
  • Bernier nice save on Phoenix top prospect Kyle Turris
  • Richard Clune drops the gloves with Mathieu Brodeur
7:35 p.m. – End of the second period, tied 1-1. Oscar Moller got the Kings on the board 14:12 into the period, but Phoenix’s Tyler Johnson tied it 30 seconds later. Bernier left the game halfway through the period, stopping all 17 shots he faced. Martin Jones will finish the rest of the game.

Highlights:
  • Jones makes nice point-blank save on Adam Perry
  • Simmonds was all over the place. Nice fake shot from a sharp angle that resulted in Moller’s goal. Throwing his weight around, hitting every Coyote rookie in sight. And in the right spot defensively too. Great period overall.
8:00 p.m. – halfway through the third period. Kings take a 2-1 lead as Simmonds finds the back of the net, connecting again with Moller. Andrew Campbell also earns an assist. Right before the third began, I was chatting with Kings Assistant GM Ron Hextall. He definitely likes the play of Simmonds, Moller and Doughty. And when Bernier’s name came up, he said “he’s just making it look easy.” By the way, all four of those guys participated in the World Junior Championships last January in the Czech Republic.

8:20 p.m. – Kings hold on to 2-1 victory. The Coyotes had their chances late in the game, but Jones made some really nice stops (including denying Turris down-low). Jones finished the game stopping 20 of 21 shots (and got some help from a post in the dying seconds).

That’s it for tonight. Stay tuned for the Day Two report tomorrow… One more thing…I just heard that Thomas Hickey will play tomorrow. Hickey is coming off a leg injury suffered in the WHL playoffs last April, so it will be good to see him in game action.