LAst Night's Action: Kings Tame Coyotes in Game 1 Victory
LA Kings defeat Phoenix Coyotes 4-2. One week off didn't matter to the Kings as they continued where they left off winning Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. They went into Glendale, Ariz. and thoroughly dominated the Coyotes in all three zones becoming just the fifth team in NHL history to win their first six games in the playoffs.
"The execution and the will to get things done is going to have to improve greatly if we're going to have a chance in this series," Coyotes' head coach Dave Tippett said.
The Kings really took it to the Coyotes jumping out to a 8-0 shot advantage in the first 6:30 and a 17-4 shot advantage in the first 20 minutes. Dustin Brown's shot in front of the crease rebounded out to Anze Kopitar in the slot who put it past Coyotes' netminder Mike Smith for the 1-0 lead 3:53 into the game.
"That line in the first period had a lot of good opportunities," Kings' head coach Darryl Sutter noted. "Because they scored, it sort of highlights it. But the line was really good in the first period."
That first line of Brown, Kopitar and Justin Williams combined for two goals and 15 shots-on-goal.
All of the domination belied the score of the game. "Means we probably had lots of missed opporunities," Kings' head coach Darryl Sutter commented.
There were two reasons the score was closer than what the game dictated: Coyotes' goalie Mike Smith's 44 saves and two slight mental lapses by Kings' goalie Jonathan Quick.
Derek Morris shot a puck from the red line that got past Quick. Granted it was a bouncing knuckler, but still that is not a goal to be allowed. "It was just a lucky bounce," Quick said. "It happens."
The second Phoenix goal came as Quick tried to play the puck behind his net. Perhaps he should have gotten back to the crease quicker. Perhaps Drew Doughty shouldn't have been so cavalier with the puck. Nevertheless the Coyotes took advantage of this brief lapse to tie the game up in the second period.
Fortunately Quick was able to put all of that out his mind as the Coyotes came on strong in latter minutes of the third period making 25 saves.
It's true the big guys for the Kings came up big. Dustin Brown had the game winner in the third period notching eight points in the last five games (3-5=8). Anze Kopitar has points in four straight games (3-4=7) after getting the first goal of the game.
But then there's Dwight King who made his debut on Feb. 11. He became the first Kings' rookie since Daryl Evans in 1982 to score two goals in a playoff game scoring on a two-on-one rush with Mike Richards converting the rebound into a 2-1 lead. King also iced the game with an empty-netter at the end of the game. The depth the Kings have in rolling out four lines even into the fourth period shows why the Kings will win in six games.
"I trust putting everyone out there late in the game," Sutter said.
The Kings are now 9-1 in the playoffs taking a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.
"I thought their whole game was better than our team," Tippett said. "We got beat in every facet of the game. Hopefully we take some lessons from it, and we can be better next game."
As Quick said about the win, "It means nothing if we don't win Game 2."
Game 2 will be on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Phoenix.
LA Clippers defeat Memphis Grizzlies 82-72. Yes it's going to be a busy time in Los Angeles this upcoming weekend, the STAPLES Center hosting six playoff games in four days. With the Kings in the Western Conference Finals and the Lakers winning their Game 7 Saturday night, the Clippers followed suit with an upset of sorts on the road in Game 7.
But the box score is pretty damned interesting. Taking a look at the +/- rating from the Clippers' starters:
Caron Butler: -3
Blake Griffin: -5
DeAndre Jordan: -6
Randy Foye: -2
Chris Paul: +4
When the Clippers' starters were on the floor, Memphis outscored the Clippers by 12 points. It really looked like the Grizzlies were going to pull away in the third quarter when they erased a Clippers' 10-point second quarter lead with the starters on the floor. Memphis had an answer to Blake Griffin who scored only one field goal in the third.
But Clippers' head coach Vinny Del Negro got hip to the fact that his bench was on fire leaving them on the floor for most of the final 12 minuetes. The bench rewarded him with 25 of the 27 Clipper points led by Nick Young's nine points.
Looking at the bench's +/- numbers:
Kenyon Martin: +13
Reggie Evans: +18
Mo Williams: +15
Nick Young: +13
Eric Bledsoe: +3
Both the starters and the bench scored 41 points, but it was the heroics of the bench that gave the Clippers the win. Which I suppose is great and all only to have to meet up with the San Antonio Spurs in the second round where they will surely be swept away.
Like Frank McCourt taught us, sometimes the assholes of the world who deserve to be thrown into a lions' den do win. So congratulations Donald T. Sterling.
LA Dodgers defeat Colorado Rockies 11-5. The Dodgers averted the disasters of Ted Lilly's bad first inning, Matt Kemp's left hamstring injury that caused him to leave in the third inning and Andre Ethier and Don Mattingly getting ejected by home plate umpire Mark Carlson in the fifth inning. Instead big days by A.J. Ellis and Tony Gwynn, Jr. help buoy the Dodgers to a series sweep of the Rockies.
Texas Rangers defeat LA Angels 13-6. Yikes. Jered Weaver who really likes the Minnesota Twins doesn't really like the Rangers that much. He met up with Nelson Cruz in the third inning and was greeted with a grand slam. Weaver was charged with eight runs in 3 2/3 innings. With Albert Pujols going 1-for-5, his batting average at .196, there would be no Manchester City Miracle for the Angels.
LA Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder. 6:30 p.m. TNT, AM 710 KSPN.
Oakland Athletics at LA Angels. 7:05 p.m. FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.
Arizona Diamondbacks at LA Dodgers. 7:10 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 570 KLAC.