By Surly Jacob.
Today’s choice for Little Big Man was tough. Both Michal Handzus and Alexander Frolov made several noteworthy little plays. Ultimately, I’m going with the player who made the tiniest play with the biggest impact, and that award goes to Teddy Purcell.
The play came 5:15 in to the third period. The Kings were up by just a goal, and the Islanders had just dumped the puck hard in the Kings’ zone. Drew Doughty chased the puck and took it behind Quick, tailed by Josh Bailey. Doughty dropped the puck behind him, hoping a King would get to the loose puck. However the Isles swarmed as Bailey turned around and Doughty flew by him sans puck. Sean Bergenheim jumped on the loose puck, with Jon Sim lurking close by, inching towards Quick’s crease.
Bergenheim tried to make a touch pass to Sim, who appeared wide open at the doorstep, when with a burst of energy Purcell jumped around Sim, intercepted the short pass and took control defensively. Bailey and Bergenheim promptly double teamed Purcell, who showed remarkable composure as he crept along the boards, made a few quick stick handles and banged a pass behind Bailey to Drew Doughty.
This is exactly the type of play that Murray and Lombardi have been trying to extract from Purcell. His offensive instincts are well known commodities, but his NHL career, or at least his time with the Kings, hinges on his toughness and ability to adapt to the checking side of the game. Purcell has done just that, and over the last several games has been shining more and more brightly in his own zone. This play helps to edify his spot on this team.
His efforts led directly to the game winning goal. Don’t believe me? Watch for yourself.