A Tale of Two Teams, and Two Captains
Before I depart my southwestern Chicago suburb home for bright and sunny Orlando, Florida, I will post one more blog before I head out for Spring Break away from my fun-loving 8th graders!
Kings 5 @ Chicago Blackhawks 4
Tonight, the Kings had no choice but to come out hitting hard and fore-check the heck out of the speedy Blackhawks. Apart from Michal Frolik, the defending champs effectively maintained the Chicago forwards, and held the likes of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in check; for the most part. Nobody can really contain them.
A shame that Jonathan Quick was off his game, otherwise this game would never have been a contest down to the wire. Tonight was one of Quick's worst performances that I can remember. Chicago could have shoveled a beach ball through him and still scored.
Three of Chicago's four goals were thrown five-hole through Quick, which simply showed that he was off his game. Quick was in good position to make the saves, but was consistently beaten between the legs.
The goal at the end of the second period that put Chicago up 3-2 for only a few seconds came against a poorly executed poke check, and Drew Doughty got bunched up with his defense partner letting Kane slip by him and Quick.
Personally, I would have pulled Quick right there and then. But how would Jonathan Bernier have done if he had started the third period? Would the end result have been the same? That's why I am not the coach and writing instead.
Frolik's second goal off the slapper from Duncan Keith was a pretty play, but the puck also slipped through Quick as he was in good position to at least get a piece of it. Unfortunately, he could not close up the five-hole in time.
I just heard Anze Kopitar on NHL Network, being interviewed after the game. He was telling the guys the team needed to come out hard off the get-go...(Chicago) is a tough place to play, always loud...(Hawks) like to come out hard. We needed to be ready...
Exactly! Like I've said several times before, if the Kings came out flat, chasing around the Hawks like they usually do in the first ten minutes or so in Chicago, it would be over early...therefore, I would not have stayed and instead headed home to get ready for my early morning red-eye flight to Orlando.
Well, I am glad I stayed, because I saw one of the most entertaining and exciting NHL games in a long time, and that includes last season's playoffs.
The Kings showed why they are still the champs, coming back from behind three times and then silencing the loudest building in the league thanks to a great individual effort from Dustin Brown with 1:27 left, as both teams seemed like they were heading for OT and satisfied with splitting a point.
I was a huge win for the Kings; coming from behind at the Madhouse on Madison, the toughest place in the NHL to win in, let alone earning a single point.
I expect this kind of effort from a Stanley Cup championship team.
Maple Leafs 2 @ Boston Bruins 2 (SOL)
Once again, the Maple Leafs went toe-to-toe with the mighty Boston Bruins, and came away with a point.
Still, it is a tough pill to swallow based on the fact that Toronto carried a 2-1 lead into the third period, but take the point and move on to host the worst team in the NHL on Tuesday, the Florida Panthers.
James Riemer again stood his ground with several big stops with Boston trying to again, get back into position to take the two points.
But here is the key point in my blog tonight; One captain steps up big for one team, and the other is the goat again, letting the team down.
Dustin Brown fired a shot off the face off late in the third, and then followed his own rebound to fire a high shot past Corey Crawford to give the Kings a much needed road victory after getting shut out at home the last two games, despite severely out-playing their opposition.
Now, we move over to Dion Phaneuf. It is halfway through the third period, with Toronto clinging to a 2-1 lead. Jake Gardiner hounds his man around the net, and Patrice Bergeron is standing in front of Reimer all alone, just a couple feet away from Phaneuf. Instead of getting involved with the play, Phaneuf chooses to be a spectator, and lets Bergeron receive the pass without any pressure and easily has plenty of time to size up Reimer and score.
You've got to be kidding me Dion?
This kind of player is your captain?
I hope the Maple Leafs can fight on over the last 16 games without any leadership from their mindless captain. Toronto's effort has been there almost every game this season and they deserve to make the playoffs. It has been a long time since I have said that and meant it about the Maple Leafs, but it is true. They skate hard every night, but sometimes the results just are not there.
Still, you cannot have your captain screwing up on the ice and making glaring mistakes late in games and while your team is playing with the lead. It's a shame, and more pathetic on Phaneuf's part.
The way that Dustin Brown stepped up for his team like he did tonight, can only do good for LA, which is already filled with leaders and guys who have been or could be wearing the "C" on the Kings or any other NHL team.
When will we see someone in Toronto step up like that?
I will be back in Chicago a week from Monday. I will also try and take a break from hockey while on vacation, but I doubt that will be successful. I plan on going to the New Jersey Devils-Florida Panthers game on Saturday in Sunrise, Florida. I doubt I will have much trouble getting tickets, although I may need to find decent seats among the many New Jersey fans that I expect to be in attendance.