While on the topic, too many penalties due to mental mistakes must stop tonight and going forward. Against teams like the Canucks or in the first round of the playoffs, opponents will break through on the power-play sooner or later. Short-handed, the Kings land at 86% on the kill. However, too many opportunities will come around and begin exhausting the team and goalie. Ultimately teams will break through and score. Over a seven game series any team can start to see patterns. Just like a batter who sees all the tricks of a pitcher. Sooner or later, he connects for a home run.
Here is the good news. Captain Dustin Brown has continued his underrated leadership and play. Alex Martinez has stepped-up to the added minutes and responsibility. Can Martinez hold it over the long run? That remains to be seen. Right now it looks good on the chemistry between both. Ryan Smyth continues to show up every game as he has all season.
The defense seems to be hitting stride. They are communicating and working as a unit with their back-stopper just as it matters most. And in net that pair continues to frustrate opponents with saves that often look simple, but surely are not easy. Jonathan Bernier looks more confident and comfortable with every game he plays. As he gets closer to the potential levied on him, Jonathan Quick can rest. This is a stark difference from last year. One consistent criticism, even before game one of the playoffs was Quick being over played? Did exhaustion set in even before game one of the playoffs?
As I leave downtown Los Angeles and head to La Crescenta, I will think of that night at the ESPN Sports Zone fondly. There were faults with last year’s team just as there are now. This year is different though. Now, the Kings can utilize last year’s stretch run and play-off experience to build confidence and belief. The team has grown beyond the one year of age from last April.
One thing may never change. The Kings are under dogs just as the lyrics leading this story would suggest. And so just like last year, the Kingdom will continue to believe, holding on tight. In the face of mounting adversity and obstacles, we will grab the collar of the underdog, holding on even tighter.