Kings Explode for Terry Murray's 1,000th NHL Game as Head Coach
The Kings’ game against the Minnesota Wild didn’t look anything like how I thought it would look. The fact is this was a showdown between two of the most boring offenses in the NHL, a sort of SEC matchup if you will. And judging by the Kings recent performances, things didn’t look good.
But the Kings exploded with ooey offensive goodness in a four-goal second period to put away Minnesota 5-2.
“It was a game that was very important for us to win,” head coach Terry Murray said. “I really liked the focus coming into this game tonight. The players came out right away with the kind of intensity and attitude of moving their feet, getting the pucks going north and recovering pucks.”
And what started it all for the Kings was Colin Fraser who made his Kings debut Thursday night after a tumultuous summer. As you might recall the 26-year old center was part of the Ryan Smyth trade to Edmonton. While it was known that Fraser suffered a foot injury that sidelined him for the last two weeks of last season, the Kings filed a grievance with the NHL disagreeing with the Oilers as to the severity of his injury. Nonetheless Fraser had surgery in July, the grievance still hasn’t been settled yet there Fraser was against the Vancouver Canucks.
“The foot saga seems like it’s been going on forever,” Fraser commented.
In his seven minutes on the ice Thursday night, Fraser showed that he could be a pesky player disrupting the opponent on both sides of the ice.
“We talk about our line getting pucks in deep, getting energy and getting chances down low trying to take things to the net,” Fraser said about his fourth line. It all came together in his second game of the season against the Wild. He took the action to the net off of a great dish by Ethan Moreau from behind the net. Fraser kept harassing backup goaltender Josh Harding in front of the crease and was rewarded with his first goal of the season and 17th overall in his career.
“It feels like a weight off my shoulders,” Fraser said. “A huge relief. This one felt extra special because of the issues with the foot.”
Murray lauded Fraser’s work ethic and persistence despite all of the chaos surrounding him and his foot.
“He got himself prepared to play when the opportunity came,” Murray said. “Now Game 2 you can see the work that he put into getting prepared for the opportunity. It’s paying off for him.”
The turning point of the game came when Alec Martinez was boarded by Warren Peters late in the first period. Martinez left the ice wobbly and Peters was sent to the penalty box for a five-minute major that extended into the second period. After 2:22 of nothing to end the period, Martinez got back on the ice for a shift in the second period and avenged the boarding with the lone goal of the power-play.
“I was a little concerned about our power-play,” Murray admitted. “We were messing around with it, and time was coming off the clock very quickly.”
The first intermission gave the Kings time to regroup and get things straightened out.
“That was a critical time in the game. If you’re not pushing the envelope on that one, then bad things can happen. You can give them momentum on a five-minute kill.”
What followed was the goal-a-palooza that saw the Kings scoring three more goals in the period. An all-effort goal by Dustin Brown and a wraparound by Simon Gagne spelled the end of Harding’s night between the pipes.
But normal starting goalie Niklas Backstrom didn’t fare much better giving up a goal by Matt Greene from the left point to end that bit of scoring. The last time the Kings scored four goals in a period was on Dec. 27, 2010 at San Jose in the third period in a 4-0 win against the Sharks.
Wild head coach Mike Yeo was disgusted by the game.
“Right from the drop of the puck we weren’t ready to play,” Yeo said. “We got what we deserved tonight.”
Prior to the Wild’s loss to San Jose Thursday night, they had reeled off five straight victories. However Yeo said it was all an illusion.
“We think we’re there. We’re not even close. We think that we are good enough because we’ve won five games in a row. But we’re not even close. We said this when we were winning games: we aren’t there. Along the way we forgot what we had to put in to win hockey games.”
So the game looked more like the earlier Oklahoma State 66-6 rout of Texas Tech. But in a way that seems like a nice tribute to head coach Terry Murray who coached his 1,000th game in the NHL. The Kings’ public relations staff provided a laundry list of Murray’s accomplishments from behind the bench:
• 18th overall in wins
• Sixth overall in wins among active NHL coaches.
• Tied for 20th overall in playoff wins along with Jacques Martin with 50 wins.
• Began his NHL head coaching career in 1990. Only Jacques Martin was a head coach before 1990.
• His clubs have made the playoffs in 10 of his 14 seasons.
But Murray, who barely managed a tiny little smirk that could also be confused with a mini-seizure when the milestone was announced in the first period, didn’t wax poetic about it.
“It’s doesn’t really feel any different, anything special,” Murray said before getting into his normal game recap.
Murray will coach his 1,001st game on Wednesday in the first game of a home-and-home series with the Anaheim Ducks.
USC Trojans defeat Washington Huskies 40-17.
Utah Utes defeat UCLA Bruins 31-6.
Minnesota Wild at Anaheim Ducks. 5:00 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 830 KLAA.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at LMU Lions. 3:00 p.m. 89.9 FM KXLU.
Philadelphia 76ers at LA Clippers. 12:30 p.m. Detroit Pistos at LA Lakers. 6:30 p.m.
Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys. CBS.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons. Fox.
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers. Fox.
New England Patriots at New York Jets. NBC, AM 570 KLAC (National Radio), AM 710 KSPN (Jets Radio)