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A LOOK BACK AT 2007 PART II

Monday, 12.31.2007 / 4:24 PM / Features
By Thomas LaRocca  - LAKings.com Staff Writer
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A LOOK BACK AT 2007 PART II
The second half of 2007 saw the Kings aggressively pursue the free agent market, introduce to Kings fans the future of the goaltending position in Los Angeles in Jonathan Bernier, introduce a loveable mascot named Bailey as well as the team's online television network, Kings Vision, play an exciting exhibition in Austria, followed by a historic set of games in London. And oh yeah, there was that memorable comeback against the Dallas Stars.

Read Part I

JULY
Kings hit free agency hard, signing D Tom Preissing, C Michal Handzus, LW Kyle Calder and LW Ladislav Nagy on July 2, the second day of free agency. The next day, the Kings added Brad Stuart to the defense corps as well. Here are features on Preissing, Calder and Stuart.

The following day, the Kings came to terms with Jason LaBarbera, to be the Kings No. 1 goaltender in 2007-08 and on the 11th, Lubomir Visnovsky was extended for five years.

The Kings held a development camp from July 8 – 14 with an exciting scrimmage in the finale showcasing the Kings young talent. One player that really stood out was a young netminder named Jonathan Bernier...more on him later.

The month would come to a close with the Kings coming to terms with Thomas Hickey and Scott Parse.

AUGUST

Cammalleri signed a two-year extension in August.

Not a lot of news to report during the month of August, but the Kings came to terms with Michael Cammalleri on a two-year extension, former King Bobby Carpenter was inducted into the U.S. Hall of Fame and the Kings signed Jon Klemm, Drew Bagnall, J-S Aubin and Richard Petiot.

The Kings also made an addition to their coaching staff in the return of former captain Dave Lewis.

Here is a feature on Lewis.

SEPTEMBER
The wait was finally over, the Kings returned to the ice in September, holding a rookie camp in early September before holding training camp from Sept. 10 – Sept 22 with five preseason games (3-2-0) and two exhibition games (2-0-0)...through it all LAKings.com was there to give you complete coverage. While the rest of the team was in camp, Hickey and Bernier were excused from the start of camp as they represented Canada in the Super Series vs. Russia. Check out LAKings.com's coverage.

Meanwhile, off the ice, the Kings welcomed new mascot Bailey (check out his Web site) to the organization and also added Web hosts Heidi Androl and Tom Murray to join LAkings.com and help launch Kings Vision, the Kings Online Television Network.

Check out some of Kings Vision's first features, covering the Kings Youth Camp 700K  and the Kings Training Camp Experience 700K.

The Kings opened the preseason with a 5-4 win over the Ducks before suffering a 3-2 loss to those same Ducks two nights later. The Kings then captured a 6-5 shoot out win over the Sharks at STAPLES on Sept. 18 before starting a 13-day, six-game, three-country road trip starting in Colorado, heading to Las Vegas, Salzburg, Austria and then London, England before finally returning home.

The trip began with the Crown shirts suffering a 6-3 loss at Colorado before returning the favor with an exciting 3-2 SO win over the Avalanche in Frozen Fury X at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. LAKings.com brought you complete coverage from Vegas. 700K 

The club then traveled to Austria 700K, winning the Red Bull Salute Tournament with wins

Anze Kopitar and Rob Blake celebrate their win in the final of the Red Bull Salute Ice Hockey Tournament against Faerjestad BK, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007, at Salzburg's Icearena Volksgarten. (AP Photo/Andreas Schaad)

over EC Red Bull (7-6) and Farjestads Farjestads BK Karlstad 4-3.

Enjoy LAKings.com's Red Bull Salute Coverage.

Prior to the season opener, the Kings had a special treat for fans in attendance in London, announcing in a special ceremony on Sept. 28 that defenseman Rob Blake will serve as Kings captain for the 2007-08 season, with left wing Scott Thornton, Visnovsky and Cammalleri as assistant captains. Watch the ceremony now 700K .

This set up the season opener in London 700K, where the Kings went 1-1-0 in two games with the Ducks as the teams traded 4-1 wins on Sept. 29 and 30.

In the opener, Michael Cammalleri scored two goal and Bernier stole the show, shining in his NHL debut with 26 saves.

OCTOBER
October was the Kings best month of the season after a four-game losing streak and dropping five of six games to start the month, the Kings rattle off a four-game win streak from Oct. 10-27, highlighted by a 6-0 win over Nashville. The run brought the Kings record to 6-6-0 on the season before a 4-1 loss to the Jackets on Oct. 31, left the Kings at 6-7-0 for the season and 5-6-0 for the month.

There were so many story lines in the Home Opener 700K  with Brady Murray matched up against his father, Andy Murray, the former Kings coach and current St. Louis Blues coach. It also marked the home debut of the highly touted rookie Bernier at STAPLES Center. Unfortunately for the Kings and Bernier, the Kings would fail to hold on to a 3-1 lead in a 5-3 loss.

Brady Murray (15) had to face his dad, Andy Murray, former Kings coach and current head coach in St. Louis in the Kings Home Opener.

Following the game, Kings forward Patrick O'Sullivan had even less to smile about, and with, losing three teeth when a puck hit him in the face. Tom Murray in his TMR Report 700K exclusively for LAKings.com, covered this story.

One of the other other big story lines was Cammalleri's hot start, finishing the month leading the NHL in goals.

The Kings also saw a unique face off with performers from Cirque Du Soleil dropping the puck prior to the Kings vs. Bruins game on Oct. 12...watch it now 700K . Unfortunately for the Kings, Los Angeles would drop a wild 8-6 affair to Boston that night.

Off the ice, the Kings held their annual Meet the Players Party 700K  with season ticket holders as well as the Kings Golf Tournament 700K for Kings Care.

Back on the ice, Bernier Returned to Juniors, opening the door for LaBarbera to cement himself as the No. 1 goaltender in Los Angeles. LaBarbera did just that, being named the NHL's First Star for the Week ending Oct. 28. LaBarbera posted a 3-0-0 record, 0.67 goals-against average, .976 save percentage and one shutout as the Kings won three consecutive home games. On Oct. 23, LaBarbera recorded his second career NHL shutout by making 17 saves as Los Angeles defeated the Nashville Predators 6-0. Two nights later, he recorded 29 saves as the Kings defeated the Dallas Stars 2-1. LaBarbera finished the week by making 34 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 27. For the season, LaBarbera has posted a record of 4-2-0 with a 2.06 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and one shutout.

Here is a feature on LaBarbera.

NOVEMBER
After getting to a season best 8-8-0 on Nov. 10, the Kings lost five in a row (0-4-1) from Nov.

Anze Kopitar tosses his stick into stands after scoring the game winning goal in a 6-5 overtime win against the Dallas Stars on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007. (AP Photo/Mark Avery)

13-21 before winning two of three (two road games at San Jose) to finish the month with a 4-6-1 mark. The highlight of the month and perhaps even the year, was the Kings 6-5 OT win over the Dallas Stars on Nov. 10, in which the Kings erased a 4-0, third-period deficit, scoring five goals on six shots in a team-record 5:07 to take a 5-4 lead. Mike Modano tied the game again at five before Anze Kopitar won it in overtime in a game that will live in Kings lore as the Royal Rebound. 700K

In late October, Wild Fires hit Southern California and the Kings held Fire Relief Night 700K on Nov. 10.

With Kyle Calder hurt, the Kings recalled Matt Moulson ON HIS BIRTHDAY, and the young forward scored a goal in his NHL Debut.

That was quite a week for Moulson.

The Kings-Ducks rivalry was named the Freeway Face off and Visnovksy, Cammalleri, Kopitar and Blake were all named to the All-Star ballot in November. LAkings.com launched a campaign to help get them elected, including a hilarious commercial 700K  that has been the most viewed Kings Vision video to date.

DECEMBER
December was a real rough month on the Kings. LaBarbera was injured on Dec. 1 in a collision with Colorado’s Ryan Smyth in the crease in a 5-2 loss to the Avs. He would miss eight games. In his stead, prospect Jonathan Quick was recalled and became the second rookie net minder to win his NHL debut with the Kings this season in an 8-2 victory over Buffalo on Dec. 6. The Kings went just 4-11-1 during the month with an eight-game losing streak from Dec. 12-26.

There was some bright spots, however, as Kopitar was named Third Star of the Week ending Dec. 9. Kopitar tallied eight points (two goals, six assists) in four games, extending his point streak to six contests. He recorded two points (one goal, one assist) in a 4-3 shootout loss to Edmonton Dec. 3, notched an assist on the lone Kings goal in a 4-1 loss at Phoenix Dec. 5, celebrated his 100th NHL game with a career-high four assists in an 8-2 victory over Buffalo Dec. 6 and finished the week with one goal in a 4-2 loss to Phoenix Dec. 8.

Dustin Brown, right, celebrates his game-winning goal with teammates Patrick O'Sullivan (12) and Brad Stuart during overtime in a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2007, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jerry Lai)

Though the team was struggling on the ice, the future for the Kings shined awfully bright in December as four Kings prospects began play at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championships. Bernier, Hickey and forward Wayne Simmonds – were selected to represent Canada while Oscar Moller was selected to play for Team Sweden. Stay tuned to LAKings.com for results on the tournament as well as a feature on each of the Kings prospects participating in the tournament in January.

The Kings would end the month and the year on a high note, with back-to-back road wins at Colorado on Dec. 29, 3-1 and Chicago 3-2 the next night. In both games, the Kings would enter the third period trailing (1-0 at Colorado and 2-0 at Chicago) only to rally to win. Against the Avalanche, Derek Armstrong, Scott Thornton and Anze Kopitar (Empty Netter) would light the lamp in the win. Against Chicago, it was Dustin Brown scoring twice, including the overtime winner, sandwiching his two goals around a Kyle Calder goal as the Kings won their second straight.

The Kings will hope to carry the momentum into 2008.