Yep, you read that title correctly! The L.A. Kings took on the San Jose Sharks last night at Staples Center and played the kind of hockey that we all knew they were capable of. Jonathan Quick stood on his head the entire game, making some UNBELIEVABLE saves, and earning his league-leading 4th shutout of the season. Kings’ fourth liner Ethan Moreau, proved that he understood Terry Murray’s philosophy of “shot mentality” by firing a wrister from a sharp angle that somehow ended up in the net behind Sharks’ goalie Antti Niemi. That was Moreau’s first goal in 58 games, which had me eating my words from the last post, where I suggested he be a healthy scratch. Sorry Ethan!
The Kings maintained the momentum heading into the second period. Just four minutes in, Willie Mitchell and Simon Gagné set up a great play for Mike Richards, who came skating in to put the puck past Niemi. Richards now leads the team with 11 goals, with Kopitar right behind him at 10. I think it’s safe to say this guy is my new favorite player. He is so good at reading plays, he knows how to score and pass, and the best part: he isn’t afraid to drop the gloves if the time is right, even if he is one of the smaller guys. He’s not only living up to all the hype, but he’s exceeding expectations and I personally could not be happier to have him as a part of the team.
At the start of the third period, the Kings continued to dominate. Dustin Brown, who was recently moved from right wing to left wing, made an absolutely sick play to bring the puck up the ice and past the San Jose defense. He set up a pass to Slava Voynov who couldn’t quite get the puck over the pad of Niemi, but then Brown came in again and the two of them somehow managed to get it in the net. The call on the ice was that it was a good goal, but it was then decided that it needed to be reviewed by the video goal judge. If you watch the play from the angle behind Voynov, it looked to be blatantly kicked in by his left skate. However, if you watch it from the bird’s eye view angle, which in my opinion is more accurate, it looks like Brown got his stick on it underneath Voynov’s skate. After a long deliberation, it was eventually ruled no goal because of a “distinct kicking motion,” but the explanation that Coach Terry Murray got was that it was inconclusive. According to the rule book, if the video review is inconclusive, and it was called a goal on the ice, then the goal should have been allowed. But oh well, nothing you can do about that one.
The Kings took a couple of back to back penalties in the third, putting the Sharks on the power play, something you NEVER want to do. Fortunately, the Kings’ penalty killers, along with the brick wall that is Jonathan Quick managed to shut down the Sharks and set the final score at 2-0. Although two goals doesn’t sound like an overwhelming amount of offense, the Kings created dozens of scoring opportunities, which is essential in winning games. There has been some talk recently about Murray getting axed as Head Coach and though I may be slightly biased as one of the few that still stand by him, I think he proved last night that he is still capable of leading this team in the right direction. He took a big risk against a big team in what Rich Hammond referred to as “The Great Lineup Shakeup of 2011,” and I think it paid off. Offense was great, defense was great, Quick was great, and I am back to being one happy Kings fan.