KINGS BREAK GOLDEN RULE, LOSE TO COYOTES IN SHOOTOUT 3-2

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Or more truly, as they have already done unto you.

Not all of the current Kings were teammates of Jason Labarbera’s. Jack Johnson was. Jarret Stoll was. Dustin Brown was. You think one of these players would have learned, if not from the game itself, then from the numerous times they watched their team lose from the bench in shootouts of seasons’ past, that you deke on Labarbera. You deke.

But they didn’t deke. They all shot. They all missed.

Well, Anze Kopitar did not miss, but there is a reason Kopitar is Kopitar, and JJ, Brownie and Stollie don’t have a Kopi between them.

This was a strange game. It fluctuated from boring to exciting at the drop of a hat throughout. The first period was laden with neutral zone play at even strength altered with meaningless Coyote possession in the Kings’ zone for 6 minutes of penalties.

Penalties…

Why didn’t the Coyotes receive any?

Well they did, but in the end, the Kings walked away with 10:09 spent on the penalty kill, 3:51 seconds of 4-on-4 time, and a measly nine seconds of powerplay time. I saw the Coyotes take penalties, I just did not see them get called for any of them. Holding, tripping, interference, more holding mixed with plenty of hooking. There has to be some sort of anti-trust law when someone who is supposed to be an impartial arbiter is employed by the same people who own a party to whom said striped employee is trusted to be impartial.

Or maybe the Kings should have taken advantage of how poorly the Coyotes played, and how big of a dump Dave Tippett’s powerplay took tonight.

A pleasant consolation positive for a loss which still propelled the Kings into 5th place in the Western Conference is that it featured two of the most spectacular goals the Kings have scored all season.

Drew Doughty kicked off the scoring just under eight minutes into the 2nd when he received a center ice breakout pass from Koiptar with speed. Doughty burst past two defenders inside the blue line, skated in on Labarbera and put a little slap leather on a backhander that had the former Kings’ goalie smacking the side of his head as he helplessly crashed to the ice. When Dan Boyle was 20 years old he only had dreams about scoring that goal.

Jack Johnson put the Kings up 2-0 halfway through the 3rd period. As the rest of the team went off for a line change, Johnson passed the puck up to Ryan Smyth at the Mutts’ blue line and followed nearly as fast as the puck traveled. Smyth then dished off to Johnson at the top of the left circle, from where Johnson powered to the front of the net, lifting a perfect backhander over Labarbera’s right shoulder that showcased just how much skill lays too frequently dormant within Jack.

So that was cool.

But that was it.

Phoenix scored two quick goals a little more than 3 minutes later, allowing the goofy Coyote fan to my left reason to gloat loudly. Funny how I hadn’t heard a single peep from the suddenly smart-mouthed, ridiculous side-burn donning buffoon in the ugly jersey.

The tiny Lombardi and the very large Pyatt tallied the game saving goals for the Coyotes.

I have a sneaking suspicion many of you want to put the onus of tonight’s loss on Quick. I ask of you, don’t. The Kings, despite Johnson’s highlight reel goal, did not play the right game in the final frame. They played as if their 2-0 lead was a result of momentum and dominance, when in fact it was the purely the result of two brilliant individual efforts that should have built momentum. Instead, the Kings’ failed to build off the two studly offensive plays from our two studly young defenseman. Rather, the Kings’ sat back for most of the 3rd, neither clamping down defensively nor pressuring offensively.

You may blame Quick, but I blame Terry Murray.

While the first two periods were not the Kings’ best, they still controlled the better part of the play, albeit tenderly and mostly resulting from the Coyotes’ complete and utter failure to find a spark no matter how hard the referees tried to ignite the pilot light. To my eyes, the fatal flaw of the game was Murray’s decision to roll 3 lines in the 3rd period and worse yet, moving Richardson up to Handzus’ line consistently while swapping out Simmonds’ and Modin every other shift.

This creates two problems. One is that the line can’t properly gel from shift to shift. Two is that one of Richardson or Modin is going to be playing out of position on the RW every other shift.

Let’s not pretend like that line was playing well before the 3rd period. It wasn’t. Zus had a pretty terrible game. But Terry Murray only made matters worse and needlessly stopped rolling 4 lines when the line of Ivanans-Richardson-Clune gave about as solid of a game as they are capable of playing.

But you still want to blame Quick. It’s OK. The irony of it all is that I wore a Bernier jersey-shirt to the game underneath my Kopitar 3rd jersey.

Still, let me attempt to sway you away from goalie lynching in my perspective of the Kings’ goals against.

Lombardi’s goal was not the strongest given up by Quick, I will grant you worrisome hordes. It also wasn’t the softest. Wolski’s backhand pass as he skated behind the net was perfect. Lombardi was not properly covered and had clean inside position on Kopitar as he skated to the net. The angle was bad, Quick was not completely hugging the post. But it was a goal, the kind of goal that happens. Not the kind of goal that loses you a game when it only cuts the lead in half.

The second was just a bad bounce. Michalek shot high (deceptively, as it looked to have been somewhat of a change-up). Quick reacted to be hit in the chest, where the puck was going. Pyatt deflected it low. Greene standing directly between Quick and the point of the deflection did not help matters.

So the Coyotes can win in shootouts.

I’m not impressed.

See you in the playoffs.

As they say, always end on a high note.

Enjoy.



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