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VISNOVSKY QUIETLY BECOMES AN ALL-STAR

Wednesday, 01.24.2007 / 3:50 PM / Features
By Thomas LaRocca  - LAKings.com Staff Writer
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VISNOVSKY QUIETLY BECOMES AN ALL-STAR
Lubomir Visnovsky may be soft spoken in the locker room but on the ice his game is making a lot of noise.

The Kings lone All-Star representativeheaded toLone Star Stateand helped theWestern Conference to a 12-9 victory over the Eastern Conference by scoring a goal and adding an assistat the 55th NHL All Star game on Wednesday night.

"I was very happy to be named an All Star," Visnovsky said. "For me it is a new experience. I worked very hard every summer over the last couple of years and have had some good seasons.

"This, for me, is dessert."

A fitting description as the 5-10, 188-pound defenseman's play has been awfully sweet over the last couple of years.

Visnovsky, the Kings 4th-round choice (118th overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, is on his way to a career year, scoring 13 goals and 25 assists in 48 games. That puts Visnovsky on track to top last year's breakout season as he set career highs of 17 goals and 50 assists, becoming the first defenseman in Kings history to lead his team in scoring and the only defenseman to accomplish that feat in the NHL in 2005-06.

Breaking down the numbers, the 30-year-old defenseman has scored 30-75-105 over his last 128 games after scoring just 27-86-113 over the first four seasons of his NHL career, a span of 268 games.

"I wasn't that good at scoring in my first few seasons," Visnovsky said. "The next couple of seasons were okay but I had some injuries. As I got older, I got confidence and [with the NHL rule changes] the league is much better now for my style of play."

Whatever the reason, Visnovsky enters the all-star break ranking sixth in the NHL amongst defensemen in points (38) and second in goals (13), training only Montreal's Sheldon Souray.

But the most surprising statistics are his 18 penalty minutes, as only 10 NHL defensemen have accumulated less PIMs while playing in at least 40 games, and his plus/minus rating of -1, which is impressive considering that the Kings have been outscored, 182-138 on the season and 4-16-20 of his points have been scored on the power play.

Staying out of the penalty box and playing strong at both ends of the ice are two keys to being a steady NHL defenseman, especially for an offensive-minded blueliner like Visnovsky. Playing with one of the better offensive defensemen, seven-time all-star rearguard Rob Blake, has helped his development.

"I have learned a lot from Rob," Visnovsky said. "I learned a lot just by watching him play my rookie year (2000-01) and seeing him take all those one-timers on the power play, it really helped my game."

Now after Blake's four and a half year hiatus in Colorado, the two are paired together on the Kings blueline.

"We are a good pair," he said. "We kind of complement each other as he is bigger and stronger and I am little smaller and faster."

Blake of course, is the all-time leader in scoring amongst Los Angeles Kings defensemen with 450 points, while Visnovsky has 218 career points, ranking fifth, as he quietly climbs the Kings' all-time list.

The soft spoken Visnovsky wouldn't have it any other way.