You have to admit, when the Phoenix Coyotes signed Daymond Langkow over the summer you thought to yourself ‘Aw shit, just what we needed. Two historic King killers on the same team we always seem to have trouble with. Fuck’. Then when you woke up this morning, despite the Kings domination of the Blues on Tuesday, you had a little bit of a knot in your stomach.
That’s OK. The knot is well earned, having been tightened over the many years that Langkow and Shane Doan have been able to seemingly will the puck into the Kings’ net. Tonight, in the once again virtually empty Jobing.com arena, that knot was loosened and apparently, so was Terry Murray’s typically sluggish offensive system. The Kings may have only scored two goals but it’s impossible for the difference in the Kings’ overall style of play over the last two games to go unnoticed.
Where once haphazard dumps across the blue line and incessant passes to the point with subsequent shots into shin pads occupied our held gazes, we now see the Kings carrying the puck through the neutral zone and passing either across the blue line or quickly upon entry. Shots from the point have become shots from the circles and slot. Board play has turned it’s back so as the face the blue paint at all times. Are we witnessing repetitious flukes, or has the Kings system turned the corner to facilitate the talent of their lineup? There is only one way to know for sure. More of the same please.
Dustin Brown and Kyle Clifford scored the goals. Both in the second period, Brown’s goal came on the powerplay, the result of a clinic on puck protection by Kopitar and a loin shuddering quick step and pass from Richards. Clifford owes Kevin Westgarth, of all people, a debt of gratitude for his first goal of the season. Westgarth carried the puck through 100 feet of ice before dishing off a perfectly timed cross ice pass to Kyle, who blasted the puck past Yote goalie Mike Smith. More on Smith in a bit, after we ask ourselves ‘did Westy really make that play?’ Damn skippy he did, and he screamed and screamed with Cliff after the rubber bounced off twine. Their voices echoed across the arena, because it was loud, the fans were quiet, and again, that place was fricking empty. The goal was huge for Clifford. The man needed something to get his mojo back and I think he did just that.
I’ve spent a good portion of my life over the last 5 years guffawing over how much I love Anze Kopitar. Tonight I will forego the standard fare in lieu of fawning over Mike Richards. The bill is fit and the legend is real. This guy is every bit as good as advertised. From his spectacular penalty killing to his aggressive forechecking to his deftness with the puck around the net, there isn’t a thing this guy can’t do for his team. There is even less that he won’t do.
Quick earned his second consecutive shutout in his 100th career win. Certainly a deserved shutout, we can’t ignore how well the defense played for the majority of the game, despite giving up more shots than they took. Still, Johnny Q. is on his game big time. As for Smith, what the hell was he thinking putting Wile E. Coyote on his helmet? This is a character known for bafoonery and having his best laid schemes foiled. Sure, he’s a Coyote, how clever. It’s a little cruel that no one bothered to look at him cock eyed when he asked for this design and say ‘Mike, do you really want to associate yourself with one of the biggest jackass characters ever created?’ He would have been better off putting a steaming pile of dog shit on his helmet. Coyote feces has accomplished far more than Wile E. coyote ever did.
Did you see a single King play a poor game tonight? I didn’t. They didn’t dominate the Coyotes, but they played a solid structured game and everyone played their roles well, from Kopitar on down to Lewis.
My brain is having trouble holding focus and my creative tingle ain’t tingling, so I’m going to end this abruptly, because I can.
GO KINGS GO!