Last night, the L.A. Kings took on the top team in the NHL, the Chicago Blackhawks, and shut them out 2-0 at the United Center in Chicago. This marked the first regulation loss at home for the Blackhawks in the entire month of December, as well as the Kings first win over the Hawks in seven games. Jonathan Quick earned his league-leading fifth shut out of the season after he made 38 unbelievable saves on some of the leagues best in Hossa, Toews, Sharp, and Kane (and the list doesn’t end there). Right off the bat, it was evident that JQ was in supernatural mode and as the game progressed, he only continued to look stronger and stronger. His positioning was absolutely perfect, he never lost sight of the puck, and he shut down every single shot from the very powerful Hawks offense. Start looking for him in the NHL Network’s three-stars of the week special.
The Kings had 6 minutes worth of early power plays to kick off the game, but failed to find the back of the net after some big stops by Hawks goalie Corey Crawford, who also had a great game. The Kings’ strong penalty killing unit was put to work a couple of times in the final minutes of the first period and came up big for the team. When the second period began, it was anyone’s game. It was about which team was going to give it that extra push, play with non-stop intensity, and get that first goal; and I bet you didn’t think it would come from the Kings fourth line of Trent Hunter, Colin Fraser, and Kyle Clifford. Hunter got his second goal of the season, after he and his line mates relentlessly batted at the loose puck and finally lifted it top shelf on Crawford. This line battled hard for the Kings all game long and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that they were getting ice time on the PP. They felt confident, capable, and determined to prove their worth on this team and I think it’s safe to say they were very effective.
The Kings started the third period with the same confidence and intensity with which they played the first two. Just 1:16 seconds in, Jarret Stoll found the back of the net after Crawford denied a shot from Drew Doughty and a couple of whacks from Justin Williams. However, Crawford wasn’t able to cover the puck at any point, and that’s when Stolly came through and wristed it up and over him to give the Kings a 2-0 lead. I’m happy to say that Stoll is beginning to find his game after a very slow start to the season. I think with him, it’s just about finding the right chemistry between line mates because when he is playing with the right people, he is as much of a leader as anyone on this team. I’ve been hearing little rumors here and there about the Kings looking to trade Stoll, but I think that would be a huge mistake. He is our best face-off guy, he’s got great hands and a hard shot, and he comes out and gives it 100% regardless of whether or not he’s getting goals.
Another guy who is starting to log impressive numbers is Drew Doughty. It’s no secret that he has been under public scrutiny since inking that 56 million dollar deal especially after last season’s mediocrity (though only considered mediocre when compared to his outstanding sophomore season). While he may not be the goal-scoring machine he once was, he has seven assists in seven games and has lately been the guy to get all of the plays going. Keep it up DD. Since the Kings have been winning, I’m not going to nit-pick but I would just like to point out that Jack Johnson is a -10. Come on Jack, I want you back to where you were in the beginning of the season scoring huge goals and playing solid defense. Let’s get JMFJ back in action here! We are all behind you!
History will be made tonight as the Kings take on the Jets 2.0 in Winnipeg at 5:30 PST. The two teams haven’t met since April 12, 1996 in the Jets’ final regular season game before relocating to Phoenix. Should be an exciting one as the Kings go for three straight. I’ve been loving what Darryl Sutter has done so far. It makes me real happy to see him having lengthy individual conversations with the players on the bench. I think that’s exactly what the Kings need in a coach and we’ll see if it continues to pay off. Tune into Fox Sports West to catch the game commentary from Bob Miller and Jim Fox. Remember 5:30 start time west coasters!
GO Kings! Click here to see highlights from last nights game.
Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Colin Fraser Corey Crawford Darryl Sutter Drew Doughty Jack Johnson Jarret Stoll Jonathan Quick Jonathan Toews Justin Williams Kyle Clifford Marian Hossa Patrick Kane Patrick Sharp Phoenix Coyotes Trent Hunter Winnipeg Jets