Writing a post game about the Kings’ total destruction of the New York on Saturday night 5-1 is unnecessary. There isn’t much to break down. Staples Center ice resembled a slaughter-house and the beef was a tender New York cut with a special Islanders’ marinade.
What’s necessary is reflection on what the victory evidences about the Kings’ season.
We speak of games we should win. “Should” reflects a fan base’s confidence that before the puck drops, there is an expectation our team is better. Better doesn’t always equate results. Hockey, more so than any other sport, requires a synergy of team effort from the goaltender through the defense and forwards. Synergy is built. Players with skill and character that play one system and believe in its structure. Those who care for one another. Goaltenders in tune with their defense. A defensive unit, even when dealing with injury, that can interchange and not lose chemistry. Forward lines that bring consistency from the first to the fourth. Hungry rookies that work just as hard as the more mature players around them as well as the grizzly veterans.
Dustin Brown plays a simple north to south game, that of a power forward who outskates, outmuscles and outworks any defenseman in his path. Puck meet net and if the save is made, wreak havoc in front.
Kopitar is strong along the boards, looks for the physical contact and breaks the puck loose for his defense. He has evolved into a first line center that plays with no fear and immense discipline on both ends of the ice.
Speed, skill and a tenacious forecheck from a second line that wants the puck every second of their shift.
Handzus, Simmonds and Ponikarovsky / Richardson have invented a new form of shut down defense. They strangle the opponent’s top line by making them play defense.
A young fourth unit that brings tangible productivity. They not only gobble minutes but maintain momentum and generate scoring chances.
A defense that gives no lanes, deflects passes and shots, wins nearly every board battle and creates a space around its goaltender that neutralizes rebounds. Watch them on offense. Not just a quick transition game but they are one with the forwards. The team moves as a five man unit.
What can we say about Jonathan Quick? Swagger. Poise. Our number one is in the zone and he has behind him a number two that will ensure Quick is fresh and ready when it matters most.
I don’t compare our Kings to those of the past. This one is different. We are built for today’s NHL. More than compete. Contend. That is why the victory against the Islanders wasn’t one based on expectations. It was based on results. The result of a Kings’ team that knows how to do one thing better than all else. Win.