THE PLAYOFFS COME IN DECEMBER – KINGS PUT OUT THE FLAMES 2-1
The Kings haven’t had much success against the Flames and have managed to win only one in…yeah, yeah, stats are for losers. The game is played on the ice.
From the opening puck drop, this game had the feel of playoff hockey. The Kings were aggressive and gave the Flames little room to operate in the defensive and neutral zones. The Flames responded by greedily guarding their own blue line against the Kings’ attack and kept pucks and Kings’ forwards to the outside. Los Angeles killed an early penalty against Michal Handzus for boarding through a tight checking game that was the theme for the entire period. Jonathan Quick helped the team’s cause and his own with a beautiful highlight reel glove save early.
The Kings started the scoring when Scott Parse took a beautiful pass from Handzus, passed Flames defenseman Adam Letz Pardy and maneuvered by a pressuring Aaron Johnson before bringing the puck to the inside and doing his best Bobby Orr impression as he tucked it past Kiprusoff. The goal came just after expiration of the Kings’ powerplay. The first also saw a heavy weight match up between Raitis Ivanans and Brian McGrattan. The objective lakingsnews.com punch-o-matic had the count at 15-2 in favor of Ivanans.
The Flames tied the game with less than 5 minutes left in the opening frame when Curtis Glencross took a pass and backhanded the puck past Jonathan Quick. The game may have been 2-1 Flames but a nice sliding defensive play by Drew Doughty kept it tied.
Toward the end of the first, Justin Williams was called for holding – a terrible call if there ever was one as Justin neither held nor in any way interfered with the falling Flames defenseman in the neutral zone.
Act II was nearly a carbon copy of the first. Drew Doughty showed why he is such a celebrated talent. He used speed, solid positioning, quick stick handling and beautiful moves (including his patented spin) to get the puck out of trouble and out of the defensive zone. That talent also led to him forcing a turnover and an ensuing penalty for tripping by former King, Craig Conroy. What followed was perfection. Drew Doughty, Jarret Stoll, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar. Kopitar and Doughty played the point. I haven’t seen that type of movement, skating, puck control and passing on a Kings’ powerplay this season. The work of art culminated with, what else, a perfectly accurate cross ice pass from Justin Williams to Jarret Stoll who redirected the puck past Kiprusoff. I nearly had an orgasm. The Kings followed the powerplay with more skating, hitting and that “shot” mentality that Terry Murray preaches. Everyone was hustling. Even Raitis Ivanans was working hard out there and he was rewarded by drawing (that is not a typo, drawing, not taking) a second penalty. The Flames did get their chances on some good shots, but their good met Quick’s better. Perhaps the play that defined the period was Dustin Brown making a nice move along the boards, driving to the net and taking a shot that Kiprusoff stopped while Dustin followed his shot with a disdain filled shove to Phaneuf’s chest. Phaneuf explained to Dustin that he didn’t appreciate the rough play. Dustin asked Phaneuf if he could call him Diane until Phaneuf got a man’s name.
The third period was – well, I don’t know what that was. The first 10 minutes was a lot of ooh, aah, yikes and none of them in a good way. At one time, the Flames led the Kings 10-2 in shots. Most of them, 6, came on the power play after a dumb roughing penalty by Matt Greene. I nearly swallowed my heart on a near goal by the Flames that Jonathan Quick batted in the air what felt like 10 times (I counted 3) and managed to somehow keep out of the net. The Flames had the better chances and kept the momentum most of the period but the Kings took it back at the 15:00 minute mark and they never looked back while Matt Greene more than redeemed himself with strong defensive play along the boards. He outmuscled everything that neared him. Matt was a man possessed. Ironically, after the Flames pulled their goalie, it was the Kings that took over the game. They gave Calgary nothing and nothing is exactly what this Canadian team left this game with as the Kings held on strong and finished with a 2-1 win.
Look, I wasn’t impressed that the Kings played a no-nonsense, hard hitting and aggressive game. I expect that. I was impressed that they looked so comfortable doing it.
Post Game Tidbits
- Jarret Stoll has been a gem in the past 10 + games. He does it all. His speed opens space for his linemates. His passing has been nothing short of outstanding. I am particularly impressed by his physical play along the boards and willingness to go to the net at every opportunity.
- I like Kopitar at the point on the power play. He looks natural there and can use his shot, though he has to keep those rockets low to create rebounds.
- My three stars were (3) Jonathan Quick (2) Jarret Stoll and (1) Drew Doughty. Yes, Justin Williams had a solid game.
- I LOVE puck possession hockey. For the love of everything right in this world, this is the way our boys need to play all the time. The Kings skated over the blue line on over 2/3 of their zone entries. THAT is how you keep the defensemen on their heels.
- Jonathan Quick had another exceptional game. Positioning, under control, and of course quick as they come.