Kings, Screens and Guillotines

Alexander Frolov #24 of the Los Angeles Kings tangles up on the boards with Josh Gorges #26 of the Montreal Canadiens on March 6, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Game 64: Canadiens 4, Kings 2

You know what I have a problem with? All the nicknames the Canadiens have. Seriously, pick a name and go with it. To prove my point, I'll include as many in this post as I can.

Since 1968, when L.A. entered the league, the Kings have only beaten the Habs 27 times in 133 games. That's a 20 percent clip, and the Kings' worst overall record vs. another opponent. (Second-worst, you ask? 28.5 percent against the Flyers) L.A. has always had problems with the Canadiens, long before they matched up in 1993.

So when the Kings skated into STAPLES with 80 points against the struggling Le Grand Club, I thought this would be a chance for these young players to start to change the tide of history. The Habs were without their leading scorer, former Kings Michael Cammalleri, and have been toiling in the competitive Northeast Division. Add to that the fact that L.A. is 13-3 against Eastern Conference teams, and things seemed right for a victory over Les Habitants.

Wrong.

What transpired Saturday was more of the same against their 1993 nemesis. Montreal scored two of their goals with less than a minute gone in the first and third periods, and scored short-handed as well. Not the showing many fans had hoped for.

Le Bleu-Blanc-et-Rouge played the game with a purpose Saturday, as they have been hanging around on the playoff bubble in the stacked East. And their intensity paid off in the first when Brian Gionta scored with less than a minute gone in the first.

The Kings' top line of Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth and Kopitar shot a combined 11 times in the game, but were a combined minus-5. Even though Kopitar had a nifty goal to tie up the game in the first, much more is needed out of that line. Can we just put Simmonds back up there, please?

In the second period, Dominic Moore scored a short-handed goal from the L.A. Convention Center. Randy Jones must've screened Quick from getting a good read on the shot, because Quick really should've had that save.

At the beginning of the third, Les Glorieux crashed the net hard and hit paydirt again when Benoit Pouliot scored to make it 3-1. Again, failure to clear out Le Tricolores from the crease cost the Kings dearly.

The Kings got some return on their deadline trade, when the 6-foot-4 Fredrik Modin scored to pull L.A. within a goal. The Kings came back with a vengence and made a late push to score. But when Tomas Plekanec scored the empty-netter

La Sainte-Flanelle dominated the penalty kill as L.A. failed to generate many scoring chances. Going 0-for-4 with the man advantage leaves the Kings with one goal in 17 opportunities in their past four home games.

L.A. has to improve and quick. There's little time for adjusting with the playoffs looming in the horizon and many teams making a push. Their game on Monday against the Blue Jackets should bring the team back into focus.

• AP: Not a happy return for Kings
“We’re not going to try to find excuses for this, but we need to get better. That’s the bottom line,” Kopitar said.
• LA Times: Kings lose their second in a row
Playing at home for the first time in three weeks, the Kings on Saturday did little to reward the 16th sellout crowd of what has been, to this point, a season of exceeded expectations.
• LA Kings: Hab Not
“This was a pretty good effort, we just unfortunately gave the puck away at the wrong time," Kings head coach Terry Murray said. "The first goal, third goal, the second goal; it’s just some management of the puck, making plays, holding onto it, we don’t score at critical times on our power play. We have four power play opportunities through the end of the second period which is critical, you take advantage of it and we don’t.”
• NHL.com: Canadiens top Kings 4-2 to take over 8th in East
''We were more desperate tonight than they were,'' defenseman Roman Hamrlik said. ''That's the way we have to play every night.''
They said it
"As I said to the players, the playoffs just don’t start now in the middle of April, they start in March in this league now and the Montreal Canadiens are a very desperate hockey club, they’re on the bubble, they’re tied with three other teams for the final playoff spot in the East so you got to recognize that and know that the intensity is going to be high." – Terry Murray
"Everyone’s desperate to get into the playoffs and have the best seed possible. There are going to be hard games. No matter who we play, its going to be hard. We just need to get ready for it.” – Anze Kopitar
“In today’s game you need to capitalize on special teams, and we didn’t do that. We gave up on it, and it’s unacceptable." – Ryan Smyth
Fredrik Modin #33 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the puck center ice against the Montreal Canadiens during the game on march 6, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)Around the Kingdom

• LA Kings News: Les Canadiens ont leur façon avec les Kings 4-2
Jonathan Quick avait l’air très mortel. Il avait le contrôle de rebond peu, mais, plus important encore, il laissa dans un but très doux sur la troisième qui s’est avéré être le disjoncteur dos.
• HockeyBuzz's Matthew Barry: Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures - Habs 4 Kings 2
The Kings tied the game late in the first as Anze Kopitar did what he should be doing more often. Dipping the shoulder and skating across the goal crease. His 30th of the season tied the score, but in reality, the Habs dominated the first period.
• Inside Hockey: Kings slow after Olympic break
The guys who were in Vancouver now know what it’s like in a playoff environment.  They have heard the screaming, felt the surge of emotion stepping out onto the ice for warmups, the anthems, and the puck drop.  They know what it’s like to have everything on the line and far more than the people in the arena watching.
• Frozen Royalty: LA Kings Stumbling Out of Olympic Break After 4-2 Loss To Montreal
Indeed, after a 4-2 loss at Nashville in which the Kings were badly outworked and outskated, they put in another poor effort, one in which they failed to at least match the intensity of their opponent, the Montreal Canadiens, who skated out of Staples Center with a 4-2 win in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,118 fans on Saturday night.
From across the aisle, the Montreal viewpoint

• Montreal Gazette: Halak solid in 4-2 win over Kings
Halak had to be at his best over the final 20 minutes because Montreal went into a defensive shell and was being outshot 9-2 in the final period before Tomas Plekanec sealed it with an empty-net goal.
• CBC.ca: Moore, Canadiens silence Kings' attack
Montreal dominated the puck on the penalty kill as L.A. failed to generate many scoring chances. An 0-for-4 performance on the power play leaves the Kings with one goal in 17 opportunities in their past four home games
• The Notwithstanding Clause: Habs 4, Kings 2: Not what we were sold on
We were told the Kings were young, solid, strong, and quick. Surely that 80 points, 5th in the West record made that sound correct. Jonathan Quick leads the League in the stupid stat of 35 wins. Drew Doughty was Mr. Wonderful and would bury us in the powerplays. Well, they sure didn't look like that description.
• Eyes on the Prize: Canadiens Hang On To Beat Kings
Just like the game before, they hung on for dear life as the game wound down. The Kings, after a certain time, were all over Montreal, just as the Sharks were two nights earlier. The Habs gave it all they had, but the difference maker might have been that the Kings just don't have the offensive thrust, potency and accuracy that the Sharks own.
• The H Does NOT Stand For Habs: Aftermath: If Only
I loved last night though. I thought the defence played a truly sacrificial game; the kind in which they know a big forward like Dustin Brown is coming at them at top speed, but they take the hit to make the play. It was the kind of game in which everybody dropped to block a shot rather than let it get to the net. The entire team looked organized, purposeful and well-instructed.
Peeping the dailies


 

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