I stayed off Twitter today. I stayed away from the house during the first period. Instead, I hit a local bar and the tightly packed bartender, Talena, put on the game for me with a smile. It was admittedly odd watching it with the sound off but I enjoyed it because the C- commentary by NBC Sports out of my ear let me focus on the details. What I noticed is that St. Louis’ offensive game is simple. Forecheck, attack the middle of the ice, break down the other team’s box, crash the net. That’s it. That’s exactly what they did in the first period and, but for Jonathan Quick, we would have been down 3-0. But with every highlight reel save, the L.A. Kings gained momentum and played with a more aggressive forecheck until Dustin Penner, the hard skating, physical, motivated, where have you been dude, I love you, please keep this going, you are turning me on and I may write a folk song about you, Dustin Penner made a low release pass (orgasmic), right on Slava Voynov’s stick (orgasmic), who one-timed the shot pass Brian Elliott. Admit it, you let out a FUCK YEAH loud enough to startle anyone within 20 feet of you.
And the game changed thereafter.
The L.A. Kings that eliminated the President’s Trophy winning, Vancouver Canucks showed up. The Kings that don’t give you the blue line, have sticks in every lane, whose box is as locked down as a medieval chastity belt, that send the puck and play to the boards, punish, punish, punish, and if the the puck happens to hit Jonathan Quick, the rebound is out faster than a prom date after two beers and a percocet, appeared and never left.
You saw the shorty. You loved the shorty. You are getting to the point where you expect a shorty each time the other team gets the powerplay. And Matt Greene with the shorty. The odds makers took a beating on that one.
You didn’t like the fact we didn’t score on 6 straight minutes of powerplay time. But we also didn’t lose momentum. The Kings found lanes, took shots, had chances and if you can’t score on the powerplay, it’s critical that you don’t give back the momentum to the other team by not being able to enter the zone, set up the play and get the puck to the net. I wanted a goal too. I didn’t want this to go down to an empty netter. I wanted to finish this Blues team, break their legs, break their spirit, but I will take a 3-1 victory and I consider the bank shot, corner pocket, into the empty net to be some well deserved puck luck.
Let fortune favor the Kings of hockey.
Speaking of puck luck, Dwight King’s boarding against Alex Pietrangelo should have been a double minor. We got a break. Update: It can’t be a 4 minute penalty. Boarding is either a 2 minute or a 5 minute major depending on the nature of the hit and degree of violence.
There is chemistry between Mike Richards, Jeff Carter & Dustin Penner. I pray to the Hockey Gods it continues because to have two top lines who are dangerous on the O and play a physical and intelligent game on the D gives our L.A. Kings a chance to win every game.
Dustin Brown is still in beast mode.
Anze Kopitar did everything but score a goal.
Justin Williams was Justin Williams. I just want him to be a better version of the one tonight.
Jarret Stoll won many faceoffs, clean, at critical times in the game. That GWG against the Canucks may have shattered the rust and rut. I sure as hell hope so because Stoll on his A game gives us a depth that will give the Blues fits.
Kong, Nolan, Fraser, Lewis, everyone played their role well.
The defense was what the defense has been. Our backbone. But I would be remiss in not mentioning and highlighting that Drew Doughty’s defensive game has gone to another level.
Notice there were very few post whistle scrums. Neither team wants to lose discipline. This series is about merit.
The Kings won game 1 on merit.
Take a deep breath. Enjoy it. Then wear your scowl again. There is work to be done.