No Kopitar? Kings have no chance.

Well wait a minute, they lost game 1 but hey they didn’t look too out of place.

Shit, now no Jarret Stoll? Top 2 centers out of the lineup, why bother playing the game?

Tonight is why they play the games. Tonight is why two teams don’t simply hand over lineups to a statistician and ask for a score. Tonight hockey was played… by at least one team. I’m not sure what the Sharks thought they were doing after the first period, but if that is what they call hockey, then they might as well call it golf. As the Los Angles Kings skated to a breezy 4-0 victory, one thing became clear, this San Jose team is fragile, easy to rattle and prime for succoring into the bottomless pit known as demoralization.

It started with the power play, of all things. A sore spot for the Kings this entire season but a boon this night. Funny how an improved performance of two players can change the complexion of an entire unit. Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty did their big game thing tonight, accounting for 3 of the Kings 4 goals. After the Kings second goal, a blast from the top of the circles by Doughty, the Sharks legs went out from under them.

Oh sure, a shot here, a rush there, perhaps a cycle or two, but tonight we saw just how Terry Murray’s seemingly zombie-like system of the slow grind can pilfer the life from an opposing team like so many bags of gold in an old school sacking. The Sharks, a team dependent on speed, found cement in their skates. They found bodies in their way and the puck on another’s stick. They were smacked in the face by a perfect, critic silencing performance by Jonathan Quick. Tonight the Sharks saw the recipe for their exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The series, though a very far cry away from over, is now firmly in reach for the Kings. Though the games are tied at 1 a piece, the Kings executed a dominance over the home team that virtually no one in the hockey world thought possible. Those people who figured the absence of Anze Kopitar meant the end of the Kings season simply forgot that this isn’t basketball. This is a team sport. This is a group of individuals all tied firm and fast to a system, that despite it numerous flaws, can prove suffocating when executed with persistence and attention to detail. Coupling the yeoman labor of the many and the superstar skill of the few creates a force with which the best in the league will have trouble to reckon.

So we rejoice. We yell and we scream and we nurse our hangovers in the morning.

We rest up for a homecoming, of both team and individual. On Tuesday the Kings receive Jarret Stoll and we the fans receive the Kings. Or rather, they receive us.

Savor this sweet victory. Revel in the sound of two periods of silence at the Shark Tank.

Forget about this game.

Move on to the next.

Bring on Game 3. Bring on Staples. Bring on my brethren.