The good news is that the Kings weren’t down 4-0 at the end of the first period like I initially thought was going to happen. The bad news is that we lost Game 1. The really bad news is that I feel exactly like I did a year ago after we lost Game 1 to the Canucks, a game we could have and should have won.
If there’s one thing I’m proud of about this team, it’s that they didn’t completely collapse after San Jose scored 28 seconds into the game. Flash back one year ago, the Kings would have immediately imploded, prompting a goalie change only to see that backup goalie get lit for a couple goals and then throwing a hissy fit and then the original goalie coming back into the net. Not that I’m bitter about last year’s loss to the Canucks. But seriously, good riddance, Ersberg. (Although major props to your agent for scoring you that Direct TV ad.)
If there’s one thing that surprised me from last night’s game (besides Clifford almost winning it for us late in the third period and/or Richardson almost winning it for us in overtime), it would have to be Justin Williams. I never thought he was that great, but I was shocked at how good he looked out there.
I read goalie blogs religiously and the one thing that all minor league goalies say about transitioning to the NHL is how creative the shooters are. When a minor league player has the puck, goalies will say the shooter will have about three options to make a play (e.g., shoot, pass back to point, cycle behind net). When an NHL player has the puck, goalies will say the shooter has about seven to eight options (e.g., shoot, pass back to point, cycle behind net, pass across slot to open man, pass to point on opposite side, backpedal with puck and wait for more options, try to burn defenseman one-on-one, sprout wings, or do some other crazy move I have no idea about).
For example, the Kings without Williams and Kopitar are, offensively, a minor league team. Every single offensive plays goes like this: they skate with the puck out of their zone, they shoot from the blue line, and they try to score if a goalie is stupid enough to give up a big rebound. That’s about it.
Insert Justin Williams (“J-Dub”). He’s chasing pucks down low, he’s cycling, he’s shaking off checks from defensemen, he’s making critical passes and making Niemi look the other way while wrapping the puck into the net. J-Dub has fooled the Kings into believing they’re an NHL offense again. I never knew how good he was, and now that he’s playing again (and putting up points and making the Kings look much better than they actually are), I absolutely love it.
Then again, sharing my hermana’s traits, I was a total Negative Nancy (Negative Nathan?) before the start of last night’s game. I honestly thought San Jose was dirty enough to start taking cheap shots at Williams after his first shift, knowing that he’s not fully recovered from a dislocated shoulder. I guess I was wrong – they waited for Williams to take about 7 shifts.
Yeah yeah, cry me a river about Stoll destroying Ian White’s face. Stoll is apparently facing a disciplinary phone call, but he was just trying to make a play and finish his check. Stoll’s not a dirty player and there was nothing dirty about his hit. You want to see dirty? Check out Jason Demers’ hit on Smyth. I’m no ref, but I’m pretty certain you’re not allowed to jump into the air like Superfly Snuka and throw your forearm into someone’s face.
Seriously, Sharks fans, open your eyes. If you think Stoll's hit was dirty and, therefore, should be suspended, then what did you think of Chara's hit on Pacioretty? Because I'm pretty sure White didn't suffer a fractured neck and it's not like Chara got hit with a penalty, fine, or suspension.
Can someone please tell me what Westgarth was doing in our lineup last night? I almost had a stroke after I found out that Moller was scratched for last night’s game and Terry Murray was going with Westgarth instead. I guess Murray was concerned that Clifford was going to get his face caved in, especially after Clifford’s recent showing against the Ducks. And I guess there was almost a moment of redemption when Westgarth had the puck down low in the second period and looked like he was going to rifle a shot past Niemi. And I guess the Sharks were scared shitless when Westgarth started shouting at their bench after the Clifford fight. But I don’t think the presence of Westgarth is going to stop the Sharks from taking dirty runs at Williams. We might as well insert some much-needed offense (Moller) instead of trying to scare the Sharks.
Can someone please tell Simmonds that he’s already made the team and that we actually need him to get some shots on goal instead of being Johnny Hustle and running around like a maniac?
If Drew Doughty is going to become the 2010 version of Randy Jones, we might as well forfeit the next three games. His arrogant attempt to channel his inner Rob Blake and destroy Logan Couture with a hip check was one of the most selfish and foolish defensive moves I’ve ever seen in a playoff game.
Doughty, you weren’t around when Rob Blake was on the Kings. Rob Blake only taught that move to one person: Jack Johnson.
If it sounds like I’m harsh on Doughty, it’s because I am. As a lifelong Kings fan, when your second overall draft pick gets a Norris trophy nomination in his second season, you tend to have pretty high expectations for him. Like Lidstrom-esque high expectations, especially considering Lidstrom was picked in the third round.
Goaltending? I thought Quick was solid, especially considering he stopped 42 shots. Yeah, that second goal was a little soft, but hopefully it’ll teach Doughty a lesson and play some smart defense. The overtime goal was just a laser – Quick was out beyond his crease so he had the angle covered, he knew the puck was going to the trailer (Pavelski), and simply just got beat. It sucks to go out like that, but at least it wasn’t a soft one.
What can the Kings do better to win Game 2? Find this guy.
Seriously, you had to know that was coming.
Also, I’m thinking of making this sign to take to Games 3 and 4. Good idea?
I think I'm about to get struck by a lightning bolt.
Much love till my next post.