Dustin Penner. Pencakes. I should criticize him more often. What a game from the flying fridge. Hustle & heart, getting in front of the play, aggressive on the forecheck, back checking for goodness sake and burying one off a work, work, work play by Mike Richards who fed Penner the puck. I am going to enjoy this game for a couple of days but I still don’t believe he has it in him to do it on a consistent basis.
Anze Kopitar. Kopistar. Big Kop. Our young Joe Thornton. That deflection took a deft touch and kudos to Justin Williams timing his shot so well. It almost looked like a set play. Let’s see if we get that again.
Kyle Clifford. Redemption. After an aggressive but still undisciplined penalty, Cliffy made that breakaway look easy. Deke, tuck, and the patented Clifford goal celebration. Cliffy has looked like a different player under Sutter. Catch fire, Kyle. Our young Adam Graves.
But despite these three scoring the goals, the player that gets maximum love is Willie Mitchell.
Mitchell single-handedly broke up three great scoring chances and was the white on Stamkos’ rice when 91 got anywhere near the net. Willie has been the L.A. Kings’ anchor on defense and deserves tremendous credit for keeping the front of Jonathan Quick’s net cleared.
Tampa is a good offensive team but they came as advertised. When the Bolts started falling back below the top of the circle in their own zone and guarded nobody, they gave us options. Point shots, lateral seams, open lanes to “fall in”. Penner fell into one of those lanes and got his…someone help me out here, how many goals does Penner have? 5? Kopitar exposed the Lightning by sneaking behind their defense.
If there is one gripe I continue to have with every L.A. Kings player, it is the hesitation in the offensive zone. On D, our players are quick acting. The passes are short and without thought. When we have the puck on a breakout, there is no pause, the skater is either moving his feet or passing the puck. When we get in the offensive zone, we stop skating. The moment our feet stop, the defense closes in. When the passes connect and the recipient (especially the wingers) have the puck, they hesitate too much. Have lane, shoot the puck. Don’t have lane, move your feet with it or make the pass until a lane opens up. So often, “fast” teams aren’t fast skating. They just move the puck quickly which gives the illusion of speed. L.A. does not move the puck quickly enough. When you give the D and the goaltender time to set and they wait for your shot, your odds of scoring drop with every passing 10th of a second. Get pucks to the middle of the ice and then pass, shoot, score. That’s the cardinal rule to a consistent offense.
Scribe’s Three L.A. Kings stars:
3. Dustin Penner
2. Anze Kopitar
1. Willie Mitchell
Tonight’s obligatory babe of the evening, Zooey Deschanel
Next up on Thursday, the other Florida team.