The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks met last night at the HP Pavilion in their third of six match-ups this season. The first period was mostly dominated by the Sharks, but when the Kings were able to take control of the puck, they had some really great scoring chances that were all denied by Antti Niemi. Jonathan Quick was also stellar in net (not surprising), but wasn’t able to stop the powerful shot of Logan Couture as he scored his 15th goal of the season to put the Sharks up 1-0. In the final minutes of the second period, Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar set up Mike Richards‘ goal that tied the game at 1 and eventually forced a shootout. This was the Kings’ third shootout in a row, but after having success in the first two, their luck ran out as Stoll, Kopitar, Brown, and Richards all failed to score on Niemi. The only person to beat JQ was Ryan Clowe who had the game winner in the fourth round. The loss was a disappointment of course, but overall I was impressed with the Kings’ defensive play especially on the penalty kill. The Kings have killed 61 of their last 64 penalties, while the Sharks sit at 28th in the league on the PK. While it would have been nice to score some more goals and beat one of our biggest rivals, I’m relatively pleased that the Kings were able to get a point. And by Kings I mean Mike Richards and Jonathan Quick, the guys who really deserve the credit for earning that point.
I know I’ve said this before, but I wouldn’t trade Mike Richards for anyone. He is the most important piece of the puzzle right now because he is the only player that has proven that he can score consistently. If you all remember, the five-game losing streak that led to the firing of Terry Murray began right after Mike Richards was put on IR. He has been back two games now and has a goal in each one. Even after missing 8 games he still leads the team with 13 goals. We are so lucky to have this guy and he needs to stay healthy if we still want a shot at the playoffs.
Initially, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Darryl Sutter coming in and taking over, especially since I know very little about him. I have to say though, from the little bits that I have seen so far, I am starting to like the guy. He seems excited and invested in helping this team reach its full potential. As Jon pointed out in the last post, Sutter grabbed Jonathan Bernier at the end of the game Thursday night after the Kings beat the Ducks in a shootout. The team members were all flocking to the ice to congratulate Quick on his success, but Sutter held Bernier back and whispered something to him. There was some speculation that he was telling Bernier that he would be starting last night against the Sharks, but Sutter later revealed that he was just letting Bernier know that he should also feel like an important part of the win, even though he didn’t play. I was really impressed by that and it shows that Sutter is dedicated to establishing a sort of all for one and one for all mentality amongst the team.
I can’t help but continue to wonder what will happen with the defense situation. Sometimes when I think about, it actually gives me legitimate anxiety so I can’t even imagine how management is dealing with it. The Kings have 8 great defenseman, but are going to have to get rid of someone or send Voynov back down to the minors. Alec Martinez has had a slow start to the season and has been plagued by injury, but proved last season that he is a very capable offensive defenseman. Though he may not be totally consistent in his scoring, he is still continuing to develop as a player and I feel that he fits well with this team. Davis Drewiske has played the fewest amount of games on the team (only 7) but recently has scored two goals, which is impressive coming from a guy who the Kings do not typically rely on for goals. Slava Voynov has four goals so far in his rookie season after playing in 20 out of 35 games. It will be interesting to see what the Kings decide to do. I have a hunch that it will either mean trading Martinez or just sending Voynov back down to Manchester. For right now, I think Sutter is just trying to feel out all the players and form his own opinions.
The next game will be against the Phoenix Coyotes the day after Christmas. The Coyotes are 18-14-3 and sit at 9th in the Western Conference just two points above the Kings. This will be the third meeting of the season for the two teams. The Kings shut them out 2-0 in the beginning of the season, but lost in overtime 3-2 just a week later. The teams are pretty evenly matched so it should make for a great game. Start time is 7pm!
Happy Holidays everyone! Take this time to enjoy family, friends, and food! See you Monday.
Topics: Alec Martinez, Antti Niemi, Anze Kopitar, Darryl Sutter, Davis Drewiske, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Logan Couture, Los Angeles Kings, Mike Richards, Phoenix Coyotes, Ryan Clowe, San Jose Sharks, Slava Voynov, Terry Murray