Saturday, February 23, 2008

Feb 23rd: Kings 5, Hawks 6 (OT)

Before I begin the game review I have to explain that I DVRd this game because I knew I was going to be gone for the first half of it. As I drove home this afternoon I decided to turn on the radio to listen to part of the game. I listened to most of the second period but finally had to turn the radio off when the goalie change occurred. "Good luck, kid. You're gonna need it," was what I said to Ersberg (or rather myself) as I shook my head and pondered whether or not I would watch the game from the beginning when I finally made it home.

Even though I knew a 4 minute 6 second bloodbath occurred during the second period I still wanted to watch the game from start to finish. I already knew how bad it was going to get so I figured I could withstand watching the game in its entirety. I didn't know what happened in the third period and managed to restrain myself from checking the final score before I settled in to watch the game. Here's how it all went down:

First Period
The first period was nothing to write home about. Both teams had their scoring chances and both teams had goals scored off of shots from the outside that found their way to the back of the net thanks to some quality screening. Although, Jack, thanks for leaving that Hawks player ALL ALONE in front of Cloutier. Poor guy couldn't see anything around the opposition and I'm sure he would have wanted someone to deliver a timely and well deserved cross check to clear the front.

Anyhoo, the Kings goal was scored by Peter Harrold, his first ever NHL goal! It looked like a harmless shot but I think it deflected off a Blackhawks defenseman. Kopitar, Cammy, and Jack played the best during the first period and I was surprised that neither Kopi nor Cammy were able to score in this period.

Second Period
The Hawks were on their heels right off the faceoff but despite applying a lot of offensive pressure the Kings only managed a couple shots and nothing too threatening. Brownie attempted to lay out Toews but didn't quite hit him square on. Seabrook came to Toews's rescue and Brownie effectively held Seabrook to only a couple minor punches to come out of the scrum relatively unscathed. Seabrook was assessed 17 minutes of penalties (2 min. instigator, 5 min. fighting, and 10 min. misconduct) and Brown was given 2 for charging and 5 for fighting. The radio guys were convinced that Brown shouldn't have received a penalty for charging because they insisted he threw a clean hit. Upon watching the game I agree with Jim Fox, who pointed out that Brown did leave his feet, thus qualifying the hit as a charge.

Seabrook's display of protection must have lit something under Chicago's panties because they proceeded to embarrass the living crap out of the Kings for the remainder of the period. The Blackhawks entered the Kings' zone on the ensuing faceoff and Havlat eventually took possession of the puck in the corner. Lubo held him to the outside, but as Havlat kept moving forward, Lubo kept moving backwards...uhhh, Lubo, why don't you just let him skate into the net!!?! As Lubo went to protect the cross ice pass ( one, since there wasn't a 'Hawks player on the other side) and no other Kings defenseman challenged Havlat, he finally came into a scoring position and lifted the puck into the far corner.

15 seconds later the 'Hawks scored AGAIN! as Zyuzin (not a real name) exposed the Kings' defensive troubles and skated unmanned into the slot, received a perfect pass from the corner, and shot the puck past Cloutier. I fully expected Crow to call a timeout but he did no such thing....Hmmmm, I seem to recall what happened when Crow didn't call a timeout when Nashville scored a couple quickies...oh right, they beat my boys by a score of 7-0.

Roughly two and a half minutes later Toews made it 4-1.

Just over a minute later Williams made it 5-1.

Crow finally made a move and replaced Cloutier with Erik Ersberg, the sixth Kings goaltender to make an appearance this season. Staples Center erupted in cheers and applause as the goalies switched position but my heart went out to Cloutier. The Kings defense was essentially nonexistent for all four second period goals. The Kings might as well had been playing with three forwards and one goalie. The Kings left Cloutier out to dry and the guy, who needs all the support he can get from his teammates to not only win back his confidence but the confidence of Kings fans, got nothing in the second period. He probably could have saved Toews's goal, which came off a rebound, but considering Toews had the hunger to chase down his own rebound and make the nearest Kings defenseman (I think it was TP) look invisible shows what little help Cloutier received.

Ersberg faced 6 shots in the second period but no shots were challenging. The Kings ended the second playing like a team but with a huge void to fill.

Third Period
The Kings have had some crazy comebacks this season so I knew the game wasn't over. But when the Kings started the third period looking listless and disorganized my hopes for a comeback slowly dwindled into the back of my mind. It took them roughly 8 minutes to collect themselves and establish any solid forecheck. But once things started clicking they were on a roll and finally playing like the team I know they can be.

Cammy got the Kings back on the board at 9:06. He fought to gain prime position in front of Lalime and itty bitty Cammy was able to connect on the rebound for a goal into a wide open net. A little life, a little more hope.

Three and a half minutes later TP of all people gave the Kings (and Staples Center) some real hope! This goal occurred due to the hard play by Kopi, who carried the puck into the zone and established the forecheck, and by Cammy whose quick hands and vision enabled him to keep the puck away from the 'Hawks D and pass it TP who had a beautiful shot that somehow found its way past Lalime.

Still down by two goals it looked like the Kings were going to eventually tie it up. But as the seconds that passed turned to minutes, it was panic time. Ersberg kept the Kings in the game when he stopped Kane on a breakaway. Crow pulled Ersberg with about two and a half minutes to go and thankfully O'Sullivan was able to bring the Kings to within 1 after him and another Kings forward had several jabs at the puck, which Lalime never had full possession of and thankfully the ref never called the play dead.

With Ersberg pulled after the faceoff the Kings managed to keep the puck in the offensive zone. It looked the game was over when the 'Hawks broke out into the neutral zone just steps away from an empty netter. Jack MF Johnson somehow broke up the empty netter attempt and kept the Kings alive. The 'Hawks iced the puck with time winding down and Crow called a timeout.....Ohhhhh, so that's why he didn't use the timeout earlier in the game. Hmmm...I'll keep my mouth shut next time.

(Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Get your heads out of your asses and start PLAYING!

With under a minute left Anze Kopitar scored the tying goal and I jumped onto my couch in utter disbelief!!! I think I screamed something along the lines of "DID THAT JUST FUCKING HAPPEN?!!?" P was sitting near me with his mouth and eyes wide open completely shocked that the Kings actually tied it, especially considering he thought I was insane for even watching the entire game when I knew the Kings were down 5-1 in the second period. (He's quick to write my team off...sometimes we don't like his negativity.)

The game proceeded to OT and well, the Kings couldn't finish off the 'Hawks. The Kings were on such a roll that I was convinced we were going to win this game. However, I am happy that my team fought back and didn't die after the second period. It's good to know that the team still has some pride in them and even though they're not going to make the playoffs they're not going to let teams get easy wins.

Hopefully the Blackhawks are embarrassed for squandering a 4-goal lead after the second period and will give the Ducks some hell tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Kings have till Thursday to sort themselves out and figure out how and why they completely broke down for a span of 4 minutes 6 seconds. Damn...their next game isn't till Thursday! Another untelevised game. There's a good chance we'll see some new faces and it's anybody's guess which current guys will be gone.


KingsCast Hockey Podcast said...

Regardless of the fact we lost, this was a great fucking game!

KMS2 said...

It was a good game! I was just hoping the Kings would at least show up in the third period and not drive Ersberg to become suicidal. I can deal with an OT loss.

elise said...

Since I've semi-adopted these two teams this year, this game was spectacular. And I've decided my JMFJ sweatshirt is lucky. I put it on with like the 3 minutes or however many left when the Kings were down by two...and then they tied it up. Very exciting.

CKim said...

That was an amazing push at the end of the game. JJ was AMAZING. WOW. Never count the Kings out!