Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh What a Feeling; Kings Win in OT

What a fantastic time to be a Kings fan. I can honestly say without a doubt that this team has the most character and balance of any Kings team in over 15 years if not longer. Why I chose 15 years? Its a nice number.

Purcell- Great for Teddy P to contribute with the ice breaking goal. That said I still wonder why he is getting ice time on the 2nd Power Play unit. Not saying he sucks, should be traded, or beaten with a herring-just think there are other forwards in the lineup that could probably make better use of PP time.

Frolov-Said in the GDT that Frolov isn't playing poorly, but all the other forwards on the team are playing so well and so inspired that it makes Frolov's play magnified. Not too different then Jack Johnson looking like an also ran when he gets compared to Doughty night in night out. That said-Frolov game is getting better....he looks to be driving the net more frequently and going into high traffic areas.

Mega Props to Jim Fox on his call of Frolov's hooking penalty in the 1st. He took the time to explain why the refs are justified in making a call like that as opposed to whining and complaining about a ticky tack call like we certainly would have seen and heard from another color commentator across town who shall go unnamed. That said-There was a blatant high stick at the end of the 2nd on Scuderi that went uncalled as was the horrible call on Brown in the 3rd when-gasp......players actually bumped into each other. Its one thing to make that call in the first period another to make it in the 3rd in a tight game between two divisional rivals. Making matters worse was the non-call on what should have been a blatant interference call on Scott Nichol as Frolov went after a loose puck in the Sharks zone back in the 2nd.

I was pretty envious of the Sharks physical play, they were consistently taking the body all night long. I guess in the end it didnt pay off for them but I hope we say a day when the Kings can play that take the body style for 60 minutes....hopefully against the Ducks.

Ersberg-Glad to see him get the win but the Boyle goal was soft as was the 4th goal. Both goals should have been stopped IMO. That said on the 2nd Shark PP goal I cant blame Ersberg as much as the Kings PK for not boxing out the opposing players and taking the man as opposed to trying to dig out the puck from the scrum in the crease. Ersberg save% on the night was .882; Quick's save% on the season is .900; Kind of makes you think how good this team can be if we ever by the grace of god landed a truly elite top notch goalie....hopefully Quick can grow into it becoming one or Bernier can get a chance and make the most of it. That said-Ersbergs puck handling skills and decision making with the puck are certainly a notch above Quicks.

Ivanans- In the first Ivanans looked to challenge Doug Murray once or twice which is nice. Wasnt able to get him to go and Ivanans contributions are certainly debatable, but at least he was trying to make some noise.

Stoll- I have to think that Stoll is going to be a coach when his playing days are behind him. You can see by his interaction with the coach's and his demeanor in certain situations that he really has a grasp for the games technical aspects. Between him and Greene, who is a monster on D and a true warrior, the Visnovski trade looks better and better daily for the team. Stoll is now tied for 3rd on the team for pts and 2nd in goals. Which brings me to the next item...

Doughty- Doughty should get a Norris nomination this year. He is tied for 3rd as well with 24 pts and a +11 on the season. Is there any doubt that if Doughty was on the Leafs or the Canadians that he would arguably win the award? Doughty is 4th in scoring for dmen and tied for 1st in goals for dmen, tied for 5th in +/-.

There was a critical time late in the 3rd when the Kings were finally able to get possession of the puck in the Sharks and do a decent job of cycling the puck...something they weren't able to do as effectively as they did vs Calgary. You could see after that shift it switched momentum a bit. Hopefully we can see the increased forecheck and cycle tonight against the Jovanovski-less Coyotes.

Blake-Not to kick a guy when he is down but surely I cant be the only one glad that Blake isnt on our roster. He looks pretty slow out there and not sure if hes been like that all season but had a real hard time controlling the puck and keeping it in the zone on the Sharks PK.

Jones-11 pts in 14 games has him approaching Quincey like numbers. That said- he makes me nervous sometimes positionally and looks like players with speed can beat him to the outside. I would not be opposed to shuffling in Drewiske for Jones and O'Donnell as the season wears on. For big physical teams you need to play O'Donnell, for less physical team platoon Drewiske and Jones. As the year moves on this could really be a boost for the playoffs in terms on minimizing wear and tear.

How sweet to see both Kopitar and Brown end their goal droughts....and both in semi-dramatic fashion. Kopitar was rocked by a big hit and to me looked hurt-he was visibly slowed by the check and was gritting out the rest of his shift; when he gained puck possession I thought for sure he would simply dump it in and head for the bench, instead he decides to stay on the ice and scores a goal 5 seconds or lso later. I think that may be the definition of character for our Slovakian friend. As for Brown, he was playing hard and giving his all-maybe squeezing the stick a bit too tight but his OT goal had to have been sweet. Truth be told it looked like a soft goal that Nabakov should have stopped. Maybe it was the off speed/trickle off of Browns stick that made it a hard play. Which leads me to some numbers....

Sharks have given up 11 goals in 2 game against the Kings; against the rest of the NHL they've only averaged 2.31 GAA.

Kopitar hadn't scored in 12 games while Brown hadn't scored in 15 or so. In those 15 games the Kings actually went 9-5-1. How sweet is it that two of the teams top contributors can go into a prolonged scoring slump and the team can still finish 4 games over .500; with the majority of those games playing without Scuderi and Smyth no less?

Did anyone else notice in the post game celebration not only where the players jumping on Brown like they won the cup, but when they were skating to the dressing room Randy Jones was clearly animated, high fiving anyone in the proximity including Mark Hardy. It is clear to me that everyone in the dressing room has clearly bought into the team concept and I have said it before but this maybe the best group of players and characters buying into a system and team concept the Kings have ever had. All speculation on my part but even during the Gretzky era, players probably took an occasional night off figuring Gretzky would bail them out or could abandon the system entirely and simply try and get Gretzky the puck....and most of the time that probably worked. But its clear the guys on this team like each other, pull for each other, and are a tight knit bunch focused on the prize. Everyone in the Kings organization deserves credit from Lombardi, to T Murray, and the players themselves. I have said it before and I will shout it from the rooftops, the franchise is as strong as it has ever been-from scouting to development to management etc etc; This is a special time to be a fan.

Last item-it really bothers me that the Teams stellar play has to take place in a season where there in an Olympic break. As well and as consistent as the team has played the last thing I want is long rest breaks that could kill momentum or even worse-seeing Brown on the forecheck against Doughty. I mean of all years to have 2 prolonged breaks in the schedule for long suffering Kings fans I have to ask....Why Now?

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