Kings Remain a Mystery
I seriously wonder about the Kings.
There are times when I think they have a great chance to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Take the first period of their 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
The Kings got a power play three seconds into the game. But it wasn't until their second power play when Jeff Carter sniped a wrister from the left circle that gave the Kings the 1-0 lead.
Just two minutes later Mike Richards got his very own goal, cleaning up on a fanned shot by Jake Muzzin to give the Kings the 2-0 advantage.
The Kings kept the puck in the Avs zone damn near the entire 20 minutes, their forecheck looking similar to their playoff run. They outshot the Avs 15-4 in the period, and their forecheck looked an awful like the one we saw in the playoffs last season.
"We came out strong," Anze Kopitar said who shot the winning goal in the shootout. "We outshot them in the first by quite a bit."
But looking at the scoreboard the Avalanche were still within reach. The Kings just led 2-0 just within choking range. And the paragraph above gave away the ending.
So as much as I think this team can win it all, there are times when I think they'll fall short. Take the rest of the game.
For a team that prides itself on puck possession, the puck was spending a lot of time in their own zone. What was a 15-4 advantage in shots on goal became a 24-23 deficit in the third period.
In the meantime Paul Stastny took advantage of David Jones stripping the puck from Jeff Carter late in the second period getting the puck underneath the left pad of Jonathan Quick. And early in the third period after the Kings could not clear the puck from their zone, Stefan Elliott's shot was deflected by Patrick Bordeleau past Quick going against the grain.
"We sat back a little bit which is not the best thing to do obviously," Kopitar said.
Carter thought the Avs pressing a bit was the reason.
Avs head coach Joe Sacco said that taking three penalties in the first 12 minutes of the game didn't help their cause. "After the first period, when we got our legs back, we started to take it to the Kings in the second," Sacco said.
"We're playing a team with nothing to lose," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. "I thought we played really well."
So that's the gamut of opinions from the two sides. What is very clear is that what happened in the second period cannot happen to a playoff bound team. "We know what our goal is," Kopitar added. "In two weeks or three weeks we're where we want to be and what kind of style we want to play.
"Sitting back is not the way to play. We've got to correct that and be better in the next game."
The Kings outshot the Avs 5-1 in overtime, and the Kings scored in all three frames to win the shootout and the game.
The Kings remain in fourth place in the conference and will host an 8 p.m. game Saturday night against the Anaheim Ducks. Both teams have shown lapses in intensity in the past week. Let's hope the rivalry game will eliminate that.
Also of note, 20-year old Avalanche goaltender Sami Aittokallio made his first NHL start tonight. Recalled from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League on April 9 because of an injury to starting goalie Semyon Varlamov, the 2010 fourth-round pick probably needed a refresher course on hydration. He left the game in the third period because of cramps which brought in Kings favorite Jean-Sebastien Giguere in to a chorus of boos.
By the way after Giguere ripped into his teammates on Monday to the Denver Post's Adrian Dater, he liked the way the team has responded. "There's been a lot of positives the last two games," the long time Duck said after the game. It helps that they beat the Ducks 4-1 last night in Anaheim. "We needed a push back from the guys. I think we did that the last couple of nights." All is well in Denver now even though they're last in the conference.
And how was there no fight tonight at STAPLES Center and one at Petco that sent Zack Greinke out with a broken collarbone? I was robbed.