Some History for the Kings and Coyotes
History was riding on this game between the Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes. The final score read 3-2 Kings victory, but there was a little more than met the eye.
1. Drew Doughty finally scored a goal. The longest goal drought Drew Doughty had in his career was in his first season where he went 35 games without a score. It took 34 regular season games dating back to last season, but Doughty finally got his goal in the second period.
It took a couple of replays to examine it to determine if it was Doughty's goal. He ripped a shot from the inside the top of the left circle towards Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. There was traffic up front, and it looked like Tyler Toffoli could have tapped the puck past Smith. It would figure since he screwed up my wonderous story line last night, he would hog the credit for the goal also.
But upon further inspection, the puck did not touch Toffoli's stick. All of the glory was reserved for Doughty, and the crowd gave him his due.
Doughty kept telling us that he wasn't worried about the goose egg, that his job this season had changed with the absence of Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. That part is very much true. Instead of being the offensive-minded defenseman, he's had to do the ugly things to help the team win.
"I'm enjoying it," Doughty maintained. "I love playing other teams' top players, but I still want to be able to kick in on offense when I can."
But seeing Doughty's reaction after scoring the goal, the weight that was lifted off of his shoulders, it was clear he was lying about one thing.
"I was obviously worried," he said with a Cheshire Cat grin. "I was just saying that."
2. Phoenix Coyotes scored a goal! It took 245 minutes, 33 seconds, but the Phoenix Coyotes finally scored a goal. The last time the Coyotes scored was at 10:55 in the third period against the Kings a week ago. They were threatening going on a four-game road trip completely scoreless and had already surpassed the previous franchise mark of futility in this game.
It was amazing the streak lasted as long as it did. The Coyotes came out with determination peppering Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier with five shots in the first 72 seconds of play. It wasn't surprising considering how the Kings blanked them 4-0 last night. But you figured for all of the persistence, one would have to eventually go through.
Not even the return of right-winger Radim Vrbata after 12 games with a cracked bone in his foot could help the Coyotes. They attacked and attacked, yet Bernier stopped everything. In fact he surpassed his former career high of 34 saves in the third period without letting a goal in.
But Shane Doan finally was able to get one in on the 38th shot on goal that made things a little interesting, cutting the Kings lead to 2-1. Jarret Stoll all but iced the game two minutes later which made Doan's second goal after they pulled Smith for the extra attacker in the final minute pretty harmless.
"We had a great effort," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "It's too bad we didn't win."
The Coyotes did play a good game outplaying the Kings for good chunks of the game. But there really is no such thing as moral victories here.
"Obviously everybody in this room is frustrated and disappointed," Doan said. "We could have just as easily won that game, but we didn't. That's the way it goes."
Even though it was in a losing effort, the 36-year old Doan had one of those games that made you marvel. His 13 hits leads all players in the NHL this season. And nothing exemplifies the grit and determination to will one's team to win more than his collision with Jake Muzzin towards the end of the second period.
"He recognizes the situation we're in," Tippett said about his captain. "We need wins. We've had to take it to another level, and he's the one that leads us in that department. He was a bull out there."
Combine the 13 hits with 11 shots on goal, that is an understatement from Tippett. By the way, no penalties were issued in that hit and the scrum that ensued.
Meanwhile Bernier didn't get the shutout, but he did have a career high 40 saves in the game.
"I've been fortunate the guys have been playing really good in front of me," Bernier said. "That's the bottom line."
3. The "Purple Crown" era is over. Like I wrote about yesterday, the purple crown uniforms the Kings donned from the 1998-99 season until the 2010-11 season will officially be retired. It will not be an alternate home uniform like it had been from last season. The Kings will no longer wear them, relegating them to the memory banks and the backs of fans who will continue to wear them to games.
While they weren't the most aesthetically pleasing garbs, they served their purpose as Anschutz Entertainment Group tried to make the clean break from the fallout of the Bruce McNall era. There were some great moments, most notably the Frenzy on Figueroa or Stunner at Staples Center in 2001 — when the Kings came back came back from a 3-0 deficit to the Detroit Red Wings in the final five minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime and eventually win it on Eric Belanger's goal to tie the first round series 2-2.
There were some very low moments during this era. Anyone remember the Jeremy Roenick era of the Kings?
But as bad as they were, the Kings did something a lot of organizations wouldn't have the guts to do. They tore everything down and rebuilt from scratch. It took some time, but the Kings were rewarded with the Stanley Cup last season for their efforts.