Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clean Up on Aisle 11

So I thought I had a nice headline for tonight's game recap. I was already writing the article in my head. Then the Kings reminded me that in the NHL, like in life, you should never put the cart before the horse. Fans created the initial mess when Anze Kopitar scored his first career hat trick at the mid-point of the second period. Then in the third...well, the Kings started creating a much bigger mess.

Staples Center was buzzing during the second intermission. Up 4-1, the Kings were outplaying the Stars at both ends of the ice. Equally enjoyable was watching Marc Crawford slowly lose his mind on the bench. Seeing the Kings take it to his team for the second time this week had to be painful.

It was a payback of sorts. Crawford was extremely agonizing to Kings fans while behind the bench in LA. Put the Cloutier thing aside for a moment. Crow was constantly changing the line combinations back then. That must have (at least) contributed to the lack of chemistry on the team. However, it was his doling out of punishment and rewards to players - things that seemed to occur without any sense of consistency - that were the most frustrating. And he was sort of up to his old tricks again this week.

If you saw Crow's face after the Kings iced the game on Monday with an empty net goal, you know just how bad he wanted to beat his former employer. So the move to start Turco on Wednesday vs. the Ducks was perplexing. On the surface that was setting up Auld to start on Thursday vs. the Kings. Now one could try and argue that he went with Turco on Monday and lost - so he was trying to come back with Auld on Thursday for a different look. I just don't buy it. Turco is one of the best goaltenders in the league. When you really want to win, you put your best line-up on the ice. Crawford went against the grain and was burned for it.

It almost didn't happen though. The Kings let the Stars back in the game about 7 minutes into the third when they gave up two goals in less than two minutes. Dallas is loaded with nice young talent and it was on full display Thursday night in downtown. Rookie Jamie Benn scored, followed by Mark Fistric (his first ever) and then...and then...the Real Deal James Neal tied things up with less than three minutes to go (his second goal of the night).

Earlier this week I wrote that the Kings needed 11 points by midnight tonight...and they needed to decide if they wanted to do it the hard way or the easy way. It's the Kings, so of course they were going to choose the hard way. Sure, they came back to win the game in overtime. But giving Dallas a gift point by taking it into an extra session wasn't what you want to see from a team trying to make its mark as more than just "a team on the rise." The Kings need to finish.

Another interesting twist of the game was the lack of power play goals. In a game featuring 11 penalties and two teams in the bottom five on the penalty kill, things looked good on paper. If Dallas was going to get back in the game after being down 4-1 you would think they'd have to take advantage of some power play time. Nope. The only PPG goal of the night was Kopitar's second tally.

...and the Frolov watch continues. He had two assists on the night, including a beautiful set up on Simmonds goal. Speaking of Wayne the Train, he looked fine playing up front in place of Williams. What a day for #17. In a matter of hours he goes from losing his linemates (who were "promoted" to the second line), to ending up on the top line with the two hottest Kings - Kopitar and Smyth.

Two games against Dallas, two wins. Twelve points after the first 10 games. Right on track.

The headline stays. Hat's off to you #11 for a memorable night.



  1. Are you a true Kings fan if you hide you hat after 11 gets a Hat Trick? The only thing that is better than a Hat Trick at Staples Center is a Hat Trick at Stapes Center on Hat Night. Go Kings!

  2. Simmonds looks pretty good on the first line. The Frolov-Handzus-Brown line isn't too shabby either. I think the weakest link is Purcell...