Well, what do you know! Jon Klemm was at center to take the face-off. Apparently this guy can play forward and defense! Wow, just like Kevin Dallman!
I got such a bad feeling in my stomach when the Kings line combinations were displayed. Ugh...
I promise not to bring this up again for the remainder of this post, but it would be really nice to have Moulson, Purcell, and Boyle among those names. Cloutier is in net tonight, which I guess mean Esrberg will be making his first start tomorrow.
The first period is halfway over and there hasn't been much going on. Kopitar's line had one scoring opportunity. The Avalance had one power play, courtesy of Brian Willsie who decided that playing defense required too much energy. Crow is already tweaking the lines...Giuliano has been playing with Calder and Handzus. Ellis was seen playing with Kopi and Brown. The Kings had one power play but failed to do much with it. This game is sooooo exciting.
End of the first and the Kings are still in this 0-0 game. Cammy hit the post at the end of the period, which was probably the best Kings scoring chance so far, although there haven't been many chances from the guys in purple. The Kings don't look that bad, it's just that they don't look cohesive. Cloutier had a couple of great saves, including one on Sakic and the ensuing rebound. Surprisingly Cloutier looks solid. He's square to the shooter, not overcommitting, and looks like his head is in this game. Can he continue playing like this for the next two periods? If so, I think he can win this game because Theodore hasn't been that impressive and I think the Kings will be able to get a couple pucks past him.
The rest of the game diary after the jump.
The Kings started the second by applying some much needed offensive pressure. The Calder/Handzus line kept in Colorado's zone for a considerable amount of time. Most of the action was in the right corner but Dallman was wide open on the left blueline. Someone passed the puck to Dallman and with only one defenseman in front of him, Dallman went for the one-timer and completely fucking fanned. Story of his life.
The Kings went on the power play and finally exhibited some life. Lubo rocketed one off the post for his second post of the night but Cammy finally got the Kings on the board with a power play goal.
Less than two minutes later Colorado tied the score. Salei shot the puck from just insde the blueline in what looked like a harmless shot. Just as I about to curse Cloutier to the high heavens the replay showed Smyth sneaking in front of Cloutier to not only screen him and prevent him from challenging the shooter, but also to tip in the shot for a goal. Smyth irks the crap out of me.
Colorado continued applying pressure and kept the Kings scrambling to even get a stick on the puck. Less than two minutes after Smyth's goal, Smyth attempted the cross-ice pass through the crease and Blake intercepted the pass with his padded foot for an own goal. Smyth 2, Kings 1.
Klemm checked Svatos from behind sending him into the boards with his legs in the most uncomfortable looking position. With a delayed penalty about to be called the Avs kept the play in the Kings' end and Salei fired a high shot that went straight into the upper-V. Smyth/Salei 3, Kings 1, and 1 Avs player down.
With 28.5 seconds left in the second Jack Johnson knocked the fuck out of Ryan Smyth. When the play happened it just looked like an awesome hit by Jack. Smyth was coming down the side in front of his team's bench and Jack, who was already leaning against Smyth, finished the check. Well...he finished the check right at the point where the bench ends and the glass begins and very literally knocked out Smyth. I cheered when I saw the hit at full speed but then the play was called dead and the camera panned over a helmet-less, motionless Smyth. As much as I hate Smyth (and for him taking out LaBarbera in early December) of course I never actually want to see something bad happen to him. The training staff came out on the ice, Smyth began to move his arms and you could see him blinking his eyes. The crowd viciously boo'd Jack, but that kid isn't a stranger to booing and let's face, it was a clean hit, it just occurred in an unfortunate location. In fact, a replay was shown where earlier in the game Frolov was checked in the exact same location but he didn't hit the end of the glass with as much force and eluded a scary injury. Smyth/Salei 3, Kings 1, and 2 Avs players down.
The period is over, Kings are down by 2, and Ivanans isn't in the game to get into a fight for Jack. Prediction for the third: Jack v. Laperriere.
For the third time today Bob Miller has said 'Cloutier' when he meant to say Theodore. Hmmm...Bob, are you trying to tell us that you wish Cloutier wasn't with the Kings?
2:18 into the period and Blake, you pig fucker, you ruined my prediction!! Just as I predicted, Laperriere was going after Jack but Blake stepped in to try and fight Lappy. No fight really developed but now the Kings have Jack and Blake in the box with just Lappy in the box. Bob and Jim are trying to figure out why Jack got a penalty and Bob's only explanation is "2 minutes for watching"? All three men received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties which is such a farce since Lappy obviously instigated everything and all three players had their gloves off. At least give them roughing penalties...
Sakic scored Colorado's fourth goal on a play that saw a lot of players crashing the net. I think Cloutier should have saved it, especially considering how upset he looked at allowing it, but I couldn't tell for sure if he was clearly screened.
It's really easy to know when Jack has possession of the puck because the whole arena is showering him with boos. Ahhh, booing has never sounded so sweet. (Note: I wouldn't be saying this if the check wasn't clean)
Blake got the Kings to within two on his
second first goal of the night. Theodore cheated by leaving the near post early and Blake banked the puck off of him. Blake's goal instilled some life into the Kings but they couldn't decrease the goal differential any further. Colorado scored an empty-netter sending the Kings packing with their third straight loss (fifth in six games).
For parts of the final period Cammalleri played on the top line with Kopi and Brown. Even though Cammy, O'Sullivan, and Frolov had an unbelievable game against St. Louis, they were hardly a threat tonight. Cammy's goal came on the power play when he was playing with Kopi and Brown. I also feel that Kopi and Brown are not as effective when they're playing with Thornton or Ellis and need someone more talented on their line, such as Cammy or O'Sullivan. Of course this means that the second line would be less stocked, which brings me to my next thought. It seems like the Kings are rolling two lines deep and if DL refuses to bring up the most talented Manchester guys then I don't see how this team is going to get out of 30th place. It's no secret that the defense has been hurting all season long. Since there isn't anyone at Manchester that could improve this aspect of the team, in order to be better the team needs better forwards. There were times when the third or fourth line kept the puck in Colorado's zone for an extended amount of time, but I knew that's all that was going to be accomplished. This team is not going to get scoring by committee because half of our forwards are incapable of scoring on a consistent basis, and by consistent I mean, once a month. I've been contemplating buying season tickets for next season but after watching games where we look lifeless and incapable of scoring I have more and more difficulty convincing myself to drop the money for season tix.