1/26 @ Phoenix
As I write this, the Kings are closing in on their first victory this season as defending champs...could not think of a better place than Phoenix, who are still ticked off at Dustin Brown and the Kings for ousting them in the Conference Finals.
Thursday night was just a bad night. The Kings looked awful on the power play, not generating anything at the Edmonton net, especially on a kid who had allowed six goals in the first period his last time out!
How long can I watch the Kings until I have the right to start getting angry with their play? Similar to much of the first half last year, the Kings cannot score. Although they seem to be trying, but again nothing seems to work. In the game on Thursday, the Kings looked nothing like champions. LA looked like a totally different team than they had been during their great playoff run.
Simply put, the Kings did not force the issue against the last-place Oilers, did not impose their will like the Sharks had done to them the game before, and did not hold down the fort late in the game.
The officiating on both sides was nothing short of a comedy of errors. It seemed to me that they were simply guessing. Guessing all the way up to the point where Nail Yakupov did his impression of Theo Fleury for the Flames in 1991 after scoring the game-tying goal with under ten seconds left. Don Cherry was ticked off, as usual, but really I didn't mind it so much. Think of it this way, the Oilers have finished dead last the last few years in a full rebuild mode. They get crushed by another Conference rival San Jose the previous game, then host the Stanley Cup champion Kings.
With the refs guessing and taking what should have been a good goal away to tie the game moments before, the Oilers deserved to get something out of a game where they had frustrated the likes of Brown, Kopitar, Carter and Richards all night long. And, they found a way to beat Jonathan Quick late in a game.
So, for a team who is destined once again to finish near the bottom of a very deep and experienced Conference, let them have their fun. They won't have that much fun for a few more years unfortunately.
However, tonight the boys in black and white seemed to get their game going finally. Although the power play still stinks, the Kings did force the issue a bit more against a team that wanted to beat them so badly.
Hallelujah to the fact that the Kings did not have to square off with Mike Smith, sitting out with an injury. Us Kings fans all remember Jason LaBarbera. I still like him, and I like him even more after tonight, as he allowed four goals to a team who had scored just four goals in their first three games combined...all against teams who had trouble keeping the puck out of their net last season (Chicago, Colorado and Edmonton).
Good for Jake Muzzin, who will never score a goal as easy as the one he had tonight. His harmless wrist shot from the blue line somehow eluded LaBarbera's glove hand. Still, a goal to remember, as it was his first. Next time, it probably won't be that easy Jake.
Perhaps for the Kings, playing against the better teams in the Conference, like Phoenix and Vancouver coming up on Monday, will get them back into shape and their confidence back. I'd expect for the Kings to come out flying against the Canucks, looking to make up for their opening night awful performance against the Blackhawks, who seem to be beating everybody at the moment.
Jonathan Quick is the best goaltender in the league. Not only is he the most athletic goalie, but also the most consistent. Nothing seems to phase this guy. However, I still disagree with playing him every game. I just don't think it is smart to give him start after start after start.
Coach Sutter will say, he gives you the best chance to win, and I am going to stick with him...I do not disagree with that at all. That is not the point. The Kings are going to need Quick 100% and ready to go come October in the first full season of his 10-year contract extension. With that being said, Jonathan Bernier does not want to be a backup in Los Angeles his entire career. He even requested a trade immediately after the Kings had won the cup. The only way to move Bernier is to give him some playing time. Playing Quick every game not only increases the chances of him re-aggravating his back, but also takes "show" time away from Bernier. If Bernier can somewhat prove that he can take over as a number one goalie, and play to his potential, then the Kings will be able to sell high on him during the off-season. To me, this is the smart thing to do, not only for now, but the for the future as well.
• Cheers to the fourth liners, who have picked up a couple points to start the season. Kyle Clifford has been all over the ice in these first four games. He has been the unsung hero.
• Kopitar finally scores a pair of goals tonight against rival Coyotes. Up until tonight, the Kings had gotten a grand total of 1 goal from the top dogs such as Kopitar, Brown, Carter, Richards and Doughty. Tonight, the Kings get two from Kopi and one from Carter.
• I enjoy reading Matthew Berry, his rants most of all. Mr. Berry, do you recall how hard you were on Jamie Kompon last year as the Kings' special teams guy. Well, can the Kings' power play really be that much worse than it is now? Kompon is probably taking note at how awful the Kings' power play remains, even without him there and laughing it off. By the way, he is now an assistant coach to Joel Quenneville and the unbeaten Blackhawks!
• One more time...Please play Bernier coach Sutter!