"The Time Is Now" for the Kings
“The time is now.” These are four words that strike hollow, the obviousness of the sentence resounding with a loud Duh. Of course the time is now, the talent the Kings assembled during the offseason makes it conference finals or bust. Despite using this as a season-long marketing slogan, the Kings seemingly have forgotten this for long stretches this season playing some lifeless hockey.
So what better time for the Kings to dust off the slogan with the hated San Jose Sharks in town and both teams fighting for a playoff spot. It made for a dramatic pregame video presentation complete with the laser show and the theatrical music. Despite this and the fact the Sharks stunk up their home arena against the Anaheim Ducks Monday night, things were tense for the Kings in their 5-2 throttling of the Sharks.
The Sharks had given the Kings the game on a silver platter early in the third period. The Kings were already leading 2-1 and Sharks’ center Torrey Mitchell was called for a double-minor high stick penalty on Willie Mitchell. Four minutes in the box he went and not more than a minute later Andrew Desjardins also went into the box for a high stick on Dustin Brown. A five-on-three man advantage for the Kings, and with their improved power play it looked like they could push the lead.
Except Jeff Carter 17 seconds later was called for interference, and it looked like any momentum for the Kings had just evaporated. However on the bench after Mitchell got tended to from the high stick, he was optimistic while talking to fellow defenseman Matt Greene.
“Sometimes with a 5-on-3, it’s almost like there are too many options and guys don’t shoot the puck enough,” Mitchell said. “It went to 4-on-3 there and sure enough we scored on the 4-on-3 because guys get in that mode, like I said, where they shoot more.”
That scorer was Anze Kopitar who managed a wrist shot as a delayed penalty was called on Brent Burns for holding. The shot got past Sharks’ netminder Antti Niemi, and the Kings had their 3-1 lead and Kopitar a goal in his fourth straight game tying a career high.
“It’s just being at the right spot at the right time,” Kopitar downplayed his scoring flurry.
Of course the Kings don’t make things easy. Dan Boyle got the Sharks to within a goal three minutes later which seemed to energize the Sharks. It wasn’t until the pancake, the syrup of the Kings, Dustin Penner scored his second goal in as many games that got the King celebrating.
“He moved his feet, shot on the fly,” Kings’ head coach Darryl Sutter said. Perhaps the best thing Sutter has been quoted on during a postgame conference came in the next sentence.
“He played like Mark Messier.”
Jeff Carter capped the game with an empty-netter, and for the final minute of the game the sold out 18,118 strong crowd at STAPLES Center gave the Kings a standing ovation.
“That’s how we’ve got to play, with a lot of energy,” Kopitar stressed. “It’s a great team effort. [Goaltender Jonathan Quick] gave us a chance just like every other night he’s in there.”
For a good portion of the game, the scoreboard was even. After Kopitar was sent off for goaltender interference 14:34 in the first period, Mike Richards got behind the defense and scored the short-handed goal less than a minute later. While the crowd were still on their feet cheering just 22 seconds later, Martin Havlat tied the game on a second-chance power play goal.
The Kings had the lead for good in the second period after Kopitar passed from behind the net to Alec Martinez on the left circle.
With a flurry of three-point games amongst the Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames, the Kings emerged with 84 points and in eighth place in the West. That is right. The Kings have a playoff spot. For now, that is.
Indiana Pacers defeat LA Clippers 102-89. Bad defense, bad offense, bad bench. What more needs to be said?
Houston Rockets defeat LA Lakers 107-104. The Lakers had a 12 point lead with 6:41 left in the game. But with Andrew Bynum ejected in the third quarter for complaining too much, the Lakers couldn’t withstand the Rockets’ onslaught.
LA Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder. 5:00 p.m. FSWest, AM 980 KFWB.
LA Lakers at Dallas Mavericks. 6:30 p.m. KCAL9, ESPN, AM 710 KSPN.
St. Louis Blues at Anaheim Ducks. 7:00 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 830 KLAA.