Los Angeles Kings forward Alexei Ponikarovsky has had an injury filled season followed by inconsistent play, and the 30 year old winger is finding himself in the same spot he was last spring with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the playoffs; The Press Box…
In just a matter of days, Ponikarovsky has gone from the first line Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs to a healthy scratch tonight for the Kings.
In Los Angeles, Ponikarovsky’s battle level has been poor and that’s something which haunted him in Pittsburgh and eventually led to him falling out of favor with head coach Dan Bylsma.
“With Poni, I just need him to be a more competitive player right now. He’s coming back off another injury there, but it’s got to be a whole lot better, from a veteran player, ” Kings coach Terry Murray said today – –per LAKingsInsider.com.
“Whenever you’re scratching a player, it’s very hard. Everybody wants to play on a regular basis. Certainly, whenever you’re a veteran player it’s more difficult. But there’s a standard of compete that we have to have. I was looking at the game that he played against Toronto, his former team. It was maybe the first game that he played against them. If he played against them with Pittsburgh, I’m not sure. And he’s playing with Kopitar and Brown. That’s a pretty good pair to be able to get on a line with, against your old teammates. I was expecting not just hard work but a very competitive level of hard work. That part of it is not there for me. In fact, I was upset about it at the end of the game. It needs to be at a higher level. I need to express that. Players don’t really want to accept it all the time, but that’s our view and that’s where the decision has to be made.”
The Kings signed Ponikarovsky to a one-year, $3.2 million contract last summer. He has three goals and four assists in 24 games this season.
Ponikarovsky’s inability to become a factor in their top-6, has Kings GM Dean Lombardi actively exploring the trade market for a top-6 winger.
Los Angeles visits Pittsburgh Feb 10.