Jimmy Howard just proved why he deserves to be a member of the United States Olympic team.
Despite a tough year for him, mainly due to inconsistencies of play of the guys in front of him and injuries to several Red Wings players, Howard still remains an elite goaltender in the NHL and nearly single handedly defeated Chicago in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Howard was in total control of his game tonight, tracked the puck well and had perfect positioning while outplaying his Olympic teammate at the other end.
Quick's unusual gaffe on a fairly harmless shot cost him and the Kings as he panicked and kicked the puck under him straight to Tomas Tatar who had an open net. Fortunately, someone on the ice was able to bury a loose puck in the slot area. Not sure how many chances the Kings had at scoring in similar positions, but there were plenty missed opportunities.
This is perhaps another game the Kings lost due to lack of offensive hunger. In most of the Kings' losses this season, it is simply due to lack of offensive execution. Shots are coming from all over, but way too many times the Kings are passing up shots electing to make another unnecessary pass. On the power play, Anze Kopitar decided to make a pass through Detroit's box defense in front of Howard instead of just shooting. His positioning with the puck before making the pass was in the same exact spot where he sniped a shot past Marek Mazanec in Nashville on December 28th. So, the Kings continue to make the goaltenders job fun and somewhat easy instead of shooting in more dangerous places.
Perhaps it was divine intervention again, as Tatar was pretty much given a gift goal late in the third. Tatar's father had just recently passed away, which is why he pointed towards the heavens. A special moment for him. Don't mind seeing that.
Still, it is frustrating to see the Kings come out on the negative side after playing a solid 60 minute game. This team needs to score. Simple as that. All four games of this homestand, Los Angeles has dominated just about every aspect of the game against the Canucks, Wild, Bruins and Red Wings. Detroit perhaps was the tougher of the four games thus far, but the Kings are allowing one or two mistakes beat them. That should not be the case.
Besides the miscue by Quick, the only other poor play I was unhappy with was when Jake Muzzin gets buried from behind on a good, hard hockey check and takes his sweet time getting back up and getting back into the play. Detroit reclaimed possession and scored the death goal while Muzzin was still just getting back up to his feet.
After I wrote that Slava Voynov had a tough game against Boston, his reduced ice time was very noticeable. Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr were rewarded with such strong play against the Bruins the other night.
Tonight's loss makes Monday's game even more important, and I am sure the Canucks will be ready after losing both games at Staples Center so far this season. It would be a tough pill to swallow if the Kings finish this homestand dropping three of the five games after losing four straight on the road over the holidays, especially when they are completely outplaying their opponents. Time for all four lines to step up their game and chip in a little bit offensively. Tonight I just got the feeling when Jeff Carter got stopped after dangling the puck between Brendan Smith's legs and getting a high shot off the shoulder of Howard as the goalie was going the other way that the Kings night was doomed.
I cannot even remember the last time Mike Richards (21 games without a goal), Dwight King, Matt Frattin, Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford or Colin Fraser scored a goal.
Seems to me right now, that if Carter doesn't score, this team is in trouble. This is definitely more than a one man team when it comes to goal scoring. These guys need to pick up the slack, now. Losing because guys cannot score is really inexcusable. You are not going to win games in the NHL simply by playing well.
Kopitar being interviewed on Fox West..."We had a couple odd man rushes, didn't get a good enough shot...trying to do too much."
Exactly! For a team who keeps its game simple, compact and consistent, they are not making the simple play with the puck when attacking. A good hard shot on goal when there is an opportunity can cause a lot of problems. Things worked well against Boston, as the Kings took advantage of some clean face off wins and a couple Boston defensive breakdowns. Nevertheless, the Kings need to be more than just a one shot and done offensive team. For a team that puts their game on fore checking, crashing the boards and overloading teams in specific areas of the ice, they need to be able to do more of the same in tight against the opposing goalie and his defense. When they do that, goals like Doughty's will happen much more.
I cannot even remember the last time Mike Richards, Dwight King, Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford or Colin Fraser scoring a goal. Everyone needs to pick up the slack.