Besides being the base of the design for the Kings latest logo, the home plate is also the foundation for Terry Murray’s entire hockey system. A shape that is supposed to allow 5 players to maximize their coverage of the ice, keeping the opposition from entering the area in the middle. The idea being that much like the logo, only LA is allowed, no villains in between the dots and certainly nothing but a crown in the crease.
In losing 4-2 to the fierce Buffalo Sabres today in Berlin, the Kings were more than willing to let Luke Adams, Paul Gaustad and any others who asked politely to waltz through the blue paint and overwhelm the area in front of it. One can never expect to score a bunch of goals on Ryan Miller, who I believe is the best goalie in the league, so to hit our 2 goal quota is practically an overachievement. However picking up right where we left off in last year’s playoffs, the Kings failed to contain an offense just brimming with adrenaline. I must say I found myself marveling at the way the Sabres play the game. Energy throughout all four lines, nearly indiscernible between them. Lindy Ruff’s team proves that you don’t simple need to be a big bodied brute to muscled your way to the high scoring areas, all you need is a mentality pervasive throughout a lineup. One that does not say cycle and shoot from the point, one that screams crash and swarm like bloody murder. The best feeling this game leaves me with is that we don’t have to play the Sabres again this season. Though in a sense, that is a shame, because we might learn a thing or two from them.
On the bright side, our top line of Gagne, Kopitar and Williams shined. These three are hitting their stride quickly and powerfully. Kopitar is off to a world beater start and Williams is starting the season doing his best impersonation of Adam Oates. Gagne, meanwhile, fires the puck hard and often and compliments the other two well. The second line, though rendered mostly ineffective – today more a normalcy than an aberration – showed some of the promise that was on full display yesterday against the Rangers. However I find myself wondering if the Kings don’t have a first line and a second line, with then 5th and 6th lines behind them.
While Jarret Stoll played with ferocious tenacity, his wingers, Parse and Moreau, were non factors at best. Kevin Westgarth on the bottom line, made one nice play in his first shift and then proceeded to make me yearn for the lackluster performance of Trent Hunter. Meanwhile, Trevor Lewis needs to show us something beyond vanilla. Even my man Kyle Clifford can’t seem to find a stride amidst an awkward line. What are these two lines missing? Speed and skill, plain and simple. With Kopi and Richards taking much of the big defensive responsibility, there is little use for a low talent grinding line in the 4th and a line with zero identity in the 3rd. I am starting to think Bobby wasn’t too crazy for slotting in Brandon Kozun on the third line during training camp.
I guess I could talk more, about how Doughty played pretty well, Martinez showed some grit, Scuderi played another trademark unnoticeable game and Johnson did what he does best, exemplify the term bipolar. Or perhaps Bernier’s ill timed very soft first goal against and then the inability to make the big save for the rest of the game. However it is probably best to just go with the tried and true ‘it’s only the second game of the season’ and add in a dash of ‘it’s in fucking Europe’ and cap it off with ‘that Polar Bear mascot made me chuckle, albeit mockingly.’
Now we wait until Thursday to play the Devils. While this sucks in the sense that we just got teased with hockey and now have to wait another 4 days, it is good in that such a time basically eliminates any preconceived notions of excuse due to jet lag for the next outing.
2 points in the bag, back to American soil.
Go Kings Go.