Toronto Still Work in Progress, LA Fights Back.
Kings 4 @ Blue Jackets 2; Maple Leafs 3 @ Capitals 2
It was quite a bit of fun going back and forth between the Leafs and Kings games, both playing at the same time tonight in eastern time zone. It was also exciting to see both teams hang onto 3-2 leads late, then equally satisfying to see both teams earn the two points on the road.
I will start with the Leafs game tonight, who displayed a much better effort tonight after a horrendous final forty minutes Tuesday against the Hurricanes.
Perhaps my message to the defensemen got through, because all six guys on the ice were back at it tonight, and actually played like defensemen. Dion Phaneuf, who I strongly criticized last night, came right back with one of his strongest performances this season.
Last night, I also singled out JM Liles for appearing to be a step or two slower, but he toughened up his game tonight as did the rest of the boys in blue who played a third period similar to the one it finished off last week in Buffalo.
My only criticism tonight were Leafs penalty killers, who once again got all bunched up, allowing for the Caps to really take advantage of the extra man as Scrivens was hung out to dry. But since those two mistakes came down a man, it did not matter too much as the Leafs controlled much of the game at even strength, especially in their own zone for a change.
While the Kings were doing their best job in keeping the Jackets at bay, Quick had to come up with a huge glove save on Derek Dorsett, split-sliding across the crease to preserve LA's one-goal lead. Then it dawned on me the fact that Toronto would need their young netminder Ben Scrivens to come up big at least once before the night was through.
That big save came just moments later, as an initial shot from the point was deflected to a wide open Tom Poti, known for his hard shot from the point. Scrivens was able to get up and slide over to knock what seemed to be a for sure goal away with his blocker.
After the test for the Leafs was passed, the Kings were able to put their own icing on the cake as Justin Williams finally drove to the net in an effort to make something happen. Mike Richards also wanted to make something more happen, pouncing on a rebound putting it past Steve Mason. Richards had also risen to the occasion earlier, after Rob Scuderi had been drilled into the boards from behind by Brandon Dubinsky. Richards went after Dubinsky, dropped the gloves and earned 19 minutes of penalty time. But at the same time, it seemed to charge up the rest of the team including himself.
So, both Toronto and Los Angeles earn two points in solid efforts on the road. After a day off, both clubs will hit the ice again on the road Thursday as the defending champion Kings invade Nashville and the unpredictable Leafs visit Winnipeg.
Response to Comments of Last Night:
Since the days I use to follow the Hartford Whalers, I've never thought much of this franchise. They have always been a team of one or two standout guys with filler players on the other lines. The Carolina Hurricanes are no different then the Whalers teams of the past who included Brendan Shanahan and then a bunch of role players, never being that much better than a mediocre club that may sneak in the 7th or 8th spot every now and then.
When I look at Carolina, I see two things. One is the goalie, Cam Ward, who has the ability to stand on his head every now and then and steal a game for a team with barely one significant line. The other was Eric Staal, who is a dangerous player when healthy, but that's about it. The addition of Jordan Staal and Alex Semin will make the top line or two stronger, along with young playmaker Jeff Skinner, but the rest of the team as a whole not so much. But reviewing their recent seasons, and you can see why I refer to this team as mediocre or also similar to Toronto, a work in progress.
Last Three Carolina Hurricanes Season Results:
• 2011-12 > 33-33-16, 82 pts, No Playoffs
• 2010-11 > 40-31-11, 91 pts, No Playoffs
• 2009-10 > 35-37-10, 80 pts, No Playoffs
After the Canes won the cup, they followed up with some strong seasons, including a Eastern Conference final appearance in 2009, but were quickly dispatched by the Penguins in four straight.
I agree that the Hurricanes have had much better success than the Leafs lately, mainly between 2001 and 2009, but are no better than the Maple Leafs at the moment.
I withhold judgment about labeling the Maple Leafs as a team. I have neither said they are a strong contender nor a horrible club. Take last night and tonight for example. The Leafs are a Jekyll and Hyde type of team, but with enough talent to become a contending team. They are still a total work in progress, somehow stuck between rebuilding and contending. Neither do they have much of an identity. I am still trying to figure out what their team identity is. They are not an elite team by any means, but neither a lost cause team like the Blue Jackets and Islanders the past few seasons.
However, thanks for the comments. I am glad you took the time to read what I had to say. Keep them coming for further discussions!
More Disallowed Goals (followed by another rant!) Enjoy!
Tonight, it was the Kings who were victimized by another poor judgement call by the "war room" in Toronto, otherwise known as the Official NHL Situation Room.
Los Angeles had appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the first period, as Anze Kopitar did his job getting to the front of the net. Kopitar never intruded into the crease of Columbus goaltender Steve Mason, nor did he even make contact with him at all. He somehow became sandwiched between a Columbus defender and Mason, before the shot came zipping past all three of them in the replay above. Actually, the only contact that was seen was Mason shoving Kopitar in the back with his glove. Again, Kopitar was clearly standing on the outside of the blue ice during the entire play.
Oh well, not much else I can do or the Kings for that matter. At least they got the win. The last two Leafs games, in which a good goal was taken away ended up costing them points.