Kings get a glimpse at their future in OT loss to Hawks

Chicago Blackhawks' Adam Burish (37) fights with Los Angeles Kings' Rich Clune during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Wednesday, March 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Game 66: Blackhawks 3, Kings 2 (OT)

Some might see an overtime loss, I see progression.

I had said last game recap, that I now expect the Kings to beat the bad teams. But I should've also said I expect them to be able to play with anyone. And Wednesday's game certainly supports that opinion.

Chicago has ascended toward the top of the NHL this season. With their young core of players, such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith, they have assembled a phenomenal.

They are tied with San Jose for points (93 as of Thursday), and are third in goals average (3.21). They boast the most shots for (34.2) and the least shots against (24.3). Their power play (10th) and penalty kill (6th) are among the league leaders. For all intents and purposes, the Hawks are an elite team.

The Kings also have a solid core of young talent. As of Thursday morning, the Kings are seventh in the league for points (83). Their goals for average (2.94) is also seventh in the NHL. The power play clicks along at a 20.2 percent pace, good enough for sixth overall. The only area that can be conisidered a true weakness is their penalty kill, which as of Thursday is 21st in the league. But you consider that it was at the bottom for the first couple months of the season, you can see marked improvement.

These teams are built similarly, so they should match up well. And on Wednesday, they did. Patrick Sharp scored in the first period as Chicago got off to a big start. But L.A. responded in the second period with two quick goals from Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar.

The Kings had their hands full with the Hawks. They were outshot, 43-30. Jonathon Quick stood on his head for much of the game, and continues to amaze. The relentless Chicago attack was like looking into a mirror. Each line has the potential to strike at any moment. And when it got to overtime, I figured it would automatically go to the shootout.

But then Sharp struck again when Brad Richardson turned the puck over deep on a dunderheaded play to end the game, 3-2. Many fans simply thought "Well, at least we got a point." But that in itself is an accomplishment: L.A. has lost three of their last four against Chi-Town, being outscored 13-6. Their last win over the Hawks was back on Nov. 28th, when they beat them in a shootout.

Not only that, but L.A. lost only their fifth game in overtime this season, and the second on the road. These teams could very well meet in the second round of the playoffs, and if they played the way they did Wednesday, it would be a great series. I did a short write-up for the Committed Indian newsletter over at Second City Hockey, where I answered a bunch of questions like will Lombardi sign Kovalchuk, just how good is Drew Doughty, stuff like that. After I sent it in, the owner and proprietor of the blog sent me over the following message:
I agree I think the Kings could easily win a round, and I certainly don't want any part of them in Round 2.  That said, I think you're short-changing the Canucks.  They have more scoring then they ever have, and I can't shake the feeling that one day Luongo will put it all together in the playoffs.
On the newsletter, they wrote this:
While the Kings don’t contain a unit  that screams "uber-strength," they have no weaknesses. ... This is a team that  that can give the Hawks nightmares.  A full 60-minute effort would be a good start.
It's nice to see other fans recognize just how far this team has come. These two teams met again at Staples Center next Thursday later this month, a day after St. Patrick's Day. Let's hope that the Kings change the St. Paddy's tradition of turning the Chicago River green by turning the streets of L.A. red with the blood of the Blackhawks.

Too much? Perhaps, but so what? The playoffs are coming. We have to steel ourselves for anything that can happen.

• AP: Kings not Sharp in overtime of loss to Chicago
“It’s a very difficult team to play against. There’s a lot of sorting out, a lot of reads you have to make,” Murray said of the Blackhawks. “At the end, we just didn’t make the right one.”
• LA Times: Kings try to meet elite feat but lose to Chicago, 3-2
Any point is a good point at this stage of the season, the Kings agreed, but after playing well in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Blackhawks at a lively United Center on Wednesday, they realized there's still a larger point for them to make.
• LA Kings: Kings felled in overtime
Opinions were mixed after the Kings dropped a 3-2 decision in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Kings weathered an offensive storm for parts of the game and earned an important point, but missed a chance at two points.
• NHL:  Sharp's OT goal lifts Hawks to 3-2 win over Kings
It was Sharp's second goal of the game -- and his 13th in 15 career games against Los Angeles.
They said it
"They've really made some progression each and every year. They've gotten better and better. They're young, they're strong and they've improved. One thing about this team is they keep themselves in the game. They check well (and) they make you work for everything you get." – Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, on the Kings
“...I’m not sure if we have quite the same offense they do, but we definitely have a sound defense. That was a fun game to play in.” – Dustin Brown, on playing a solid game against an elite team.
“Well, you can never really be satisfied with one point, especially with the time of year it is. Points aren’t going to come easy, so you want to get them whenever you can. The team played great. We played a great game. That’s a strong team we went against, and we battled well. It’s unfortunate that we only got one point out of it.” – Jonathan Quick, on whether he was satisfied with getting one point.
“...I didn’t think there was a lot of sustained attack, though. Our defensemen were pretty good at finding those loose pucks to limit the number of rebounds and third opportunities. Quick did his job though, for sure.” – Terry Murray, on Quick’s play.
Andrew Ladd #16 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Randy Jones #12 of the Los Angeles Kings battle for the puck along the boards on March 10, 2010 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Around the Kingdom

• The Royal Half: Sharp and Quick
Fine, so the Kings got a point. But Vancouver and Phoenix played in a 3 point game tonight so Brad Richardson's errant backhand pass in the neutral zone with 2 minutes left in overtime prevented the Kings from from keeping pace with the 3rd and 4th place teams in the Western Conference.
• LA Kings News: Kings lose a heart breaker to Chicago in OT
I don’t have the energy to right a long post game. It was all sucked out of my body and flung around the living room when Brad Richardson turned the puck over at center ice while Randy -3 Jones and Jack Johnson forgot their role is to first play defense.
• HockeyBuzz's Matthew Barry: A Point is a Point - Kings fall to Hawks in OT 3-2
Who disappeared faster? That Jim Morrison dude on "American Idol" or Davis Drewiskie?

From across the aisle

• Chicago Sun-Times: Sharp's second best in OT
''I thought we were pretty good,'' Quenneville said. ''That's a good hockey team. They're big and strong. They have an organized team game, and you have to fight for space. Some of the chances they did have were pretty good, but I thought the number was manageable.''
• Chicago Tribune: Blackhawks win 3-2 in OT
With 82 points entering the game, the Kings already have surpassed last season's total when they went 34-37-11 and missed the playoffs. This season they've been a force in the Western Conference holding down the fifth spot in the standings.
• Second City Hockey: I'd Make A King Nothing Joke Here, But Metallica Suck Now: Kings 2 - Hawks 3 (OT)
After Toews received a somewhat questionable goalie-interference penalty (it was kind of 50-50), Versteeg and Hossa both got caught to one side and left Anze Kopitar all alone on the other.  While a wrister from the circles isn't always considered a good goal, Kopitar's shot was a laser and that's why he's one of the standout talents in the league.
• ESPNChicago: Burish, Sharp steal show in Hawks' win
“(Patrick Sharp and I) were talking about last year when he came back from his knee injury,” Burish explained. “He said, ‘You know Adam, my first game was against L.A. when I came back. I had two goals in that first game so you have a lot to live up to.’ And so I get back to the bench after the assist and serving the five minute penalty and he says, ‘I think you got me. That’s cooler than two goals.’ So that was fun. I had a great time.”
• Blackhawks Confidential: Sharp punctuates Blackhawks Burish victory
While he was outplayed in the opposite crease, Antti Niemi was good enough to earn the win.  There was no shame in Dustin Brown's wraparound goal at 4:58 of the second period to tie the score 1-1.  But Anze Kopitar's powerplay wrist shot less than two minutes later needed to be stopped.  Niemi had a clear view of the puck as Kopitar's goal was as soft as any Cristobal Huet has allowed.  Yet, the Finnish netminder was solid in making 10 saves during a tightly played third period.
Peeping the dailies

Here's Richard (the Clune-atic) Clune taking on Adam Burish, in Burish's first game back. scores this one a draw, but Clune garnered more votes than Burish.


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