Tooth for tooth eye for an eye. Save the strong lose the weak; never turning the other cheek. Caught in the crossfire. Crossfire By: Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, In Step (1989)
Jarret Stoll (enough has been said on this issue) is out for one game. The Los Angeles Kings, most importantly, let alone the Kingdom, must move on. John Zeiler couldn’t clear 24-hour waiver wires to come up from the Manchester Monarchs as Dean Lombardi and Terry Murray originally felt best, which means a last minute shake-up to tonight’s lines. Keep calm, carry on. There is a lot of positive to focus on.
Zeiler was going to center the fourth-line, bumping Trevor Lewis to the third line between Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams. Plans for Lewis remain the same. However, Game 1 scratch Oscar Moller will center the fourth line with Kevin Westgarth and Alexei Ponikarovsky. Keep in mind, Ponikarovsky had a strong, physical first game versus the San Jose Sharks. It is hoped that Moller will be more protected between the two bigger bodies in the Kings line-up.
Although Moller has played center before, Kings Coach Terry Murray told Helene Elliot of the Los Angeles Times, “He can handle the puck. He’s got great vision. He’s got good hands. He can make some plays. We’ll use him on the power play.”
Changes on the power play are the scariest part of this conundrum. It. Finally.Succeeded. Yes, as mentioned in my initial preview against one of the worse penalty kill units in the league, but that matters not. Williams scored. Moller will need to ensure the Kings can maintain that momentum into game two without the Sharks pushing him around.
Murray discussed not matching him up against the Sharks biggest guys. “If that’s what the look is, we’ll have to get him off the ice right away. But he can play the game. He’s a very capable player.”
Besides these changes, forced by circumstance, it is essential that the Kings bring all the positives from game one into tonight. The Kings have a lot to be positive about.
- Jonathan Quick played to, if not beyond, expectations
- The Kings found success on the power play
- Consistent, physical play and willingness to sacrifice the body (including blocking shots)
- Despite a Sharks goal just twenty-eight seconds into the game, the team settled down.
- A tight defensive style of play and perfection on the penalty kill (2-2) maintained
- The above was coupled with hard-work and an attitude that said the Kings belonged in that series
- Williams did not just show up to skate. He played, contributed big with an assist, goal and six shots.
- Face-offs? The Kings won 50% which is a huge feet against the Sharks. However Stoll went 65% on his.
Of course, improvements can always be made.
- As noted in my initial preview of this series, the Sharks lead the league when out shooting their opponents.
- Sharks out-shot the Kings 45-35 overall and 14-9 in overtime.
- Having said this, it should be noted that the Kings did shoot the puck much more efficiently and effectively with every player registering at least one shot
Tonight the Kings face three distinct challanges. 1) They must put the disappointment of a hard fought, excellently executed game that did not lead to a win behind them. 2) Remember and carrying-over all the positives from game one and capitalizing on them in game two. 3) A key member of that effort is not available for tonight’s game.
Consistency is what needs to be focused on. Stay consistent on the positives and watch for the few improvements that can be made. If the Kings can do this then there is no reason to think they can’t bring a split series back to Staples Center Tuesday night.
Topics: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Helene Ellio, Jarret Stoll, John Zeiler, Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams, Kevin Westgarth, Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Times, NHL, Oscar Moller, Ryan Smyth, San Jose Sharks, Terry Murray, Trevor Lewis, Western Conference