JOHNSON REIGNS SUPREME AT STAPLES CENTER
By Surly Jacob.
Tonight, I saw something I’ve waited to see for two years. I saw Jack Mutha-Truckin’ Johnson play like a force with which to be reckoned. That moniker is something I imagine forward Kyle Turris and goalie Al Montoya of the Coyotes collectively uttered to themselves between one’s piss and the other’s vinegar when Johnson made each of them look the fool when he scored the third period game winning goal. Down a man on a 4-on-3 power play for the Coyotes, Johnson took the pass while he came across the blue-line from veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi, split two defenders and made a move around Montoya for a beautiful backhand goal and incredible individual effort. School’s out boys. See the video link here: School’s out boys.
The Kings won the game 4-3 and it could have easily been 4-1 because the second Coyote goal may as well have been credited to Rob Scuderi, who did not look sharp in his debut with the team. Scuderi deflected a long cross-ice pass from a Coyote behind Bernier, putting the visiting team up 2-1 at the time. Seconds earlier, Scuderi made a bad pass up the middle that was intercepted, and resulted in a penalty shot for Coyote Lauri Korpikoski when he was pulled down on the ensuing breakaway.
Rookie netminder Jonathan Bernier, who overall played an impressive and confident game, didn’t help his cause on one of the goals. He misplayed the puck behind the boards on a routine dump-in, leaving himself at the mercy of Peter Mueller who buried a pass from behind the net. We’ll blame that one on a minor miscommunication with Thomas Hickey. None of that mattered though to the end result because Jack wasn’t the only one who came up big tonight.
Both Teddy Purcell and Justin Williams had strong performances. Williams, who received the second star of the game with a goal and an assist, showed poise and slick passing while he played the point on the power play. He also appeared comfortable as the right wing to center Anze Kopitar and left winger Ryan Smyth. His goal showed the mark of a true goal scorer. He made a slick toe-drag across a sliding Coyote’s defenseman, took a spot between the dots and put home his own rebound.
Smyth played hard, his M.O., even though he, at times, had trouble reading his new line mates.
Purcell looked to have taken the encouragement by Lombardi and Murray (one man’s criticism is another man’s encouragement) to heart. He played a much harder and more physical game than we have become accustomed to from him. He took the body along the boards. He drove to the net at every opportunity. He played with rookie Andrei Loktionov and Oscar Moller and it isn’t an exaggeration to advocate the trio was often the Kings’ best line.
Sophomore defenseman Drew Doughty picked up where he left off, with one added element; a desire to hit…a lot…Doughty went out of his way (without getting out of position) to lay some punishing checks and put a few Coyotes on their tails and hind legs.
It was not a perfect game but at this point, we are not looking for one. We want to see progress and the team beginning to jell. Seeing Purcell, Johnson and Williams all step up and play the kind of game this team must have from them on a consistent basis if there is to be that progress toward a playoff berth got this Kings fan riled up and ready to see the Kings take on the hockey world…starting with the Sharks.
Here is the post game video interview with Terry Murray – very encouraging – Post Game Interview with coach Terry Murray and other post game interviews: Justin Williams (with Metallica in the background) here, Kevin Westgarth (who likes to get hit) here, and Jack Johnson with a confident smile here.
If you’re wondering what happened in the other alleged game by the Kings’ second squad in Phoenix, there is a rumor going around that the Coyotes won. At this point, it’s just a rumor and since none of you were there to see it, treat it like the quiet falling tree in the Arizona forest.