Game 13: Kings pulverize Predators as L.A. continues to shine

LosGame 13: Kings 4, Predators 1

It's going to end. You know it's going to.

Last year, the top line of Anze Kopitar, Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams were rocking early in the season. Until Williams was lost to injury for an extended period of time. Then when he got back, Smyth went down. The Kings' quick start

Every year, it seems the Kings start off like gangbusters, only to flame out by December or January. One injury would send the team spiraling down to reality.

I thought that would happen this season, when Drew Doughty went down to a concussion. But the team prevailed, and the team finished October 8-3.

Not that that bodes well for the Kings... the last time they had an 8-3 record in October was the 2005-06 season, when Jason LaBarbara and Mathieu Garon were platooning in goal, Sean Avery was racking up penalty minutes (257) and the leading goal scorer was Michael Cammalleri (26). The Kings finished that season second from the bottom in the Pacific Division.

That was then, this is now. Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier are not Garon and LaBarbera. The defense is probably the deepest the franchise has seen ever, and the scoring is the result of a multi-headed hydra that can strike at any shift.

There was a chance for a letdown against the Predators, who have become quite the buzzkill for L.A. The Kings have never beaten the Preds at Staples, and seven of their last eight. But the Kings brought in their ace card, Jonathan Bernier, to tip the scales in their favor. Bernier was the one Kings goalie that has beaten Nashville, last year when he was called up in March, when he shut them out.

He came close to shutting them down again on Saturday, allowing a goal in garbage time. He stopped 25 of 26 shots, and was bouyed by his defense and forwards, who blocked 21 shots for the rookie. Bernier looked solid for once this season, finding his ice legs and turning in a complete game.

Anze Kopitar had a beauty of a goal in the first, when he roofed one over the unfortunately-named Pekka Rinne. The top line struck again later in the first, when Dustin Brown scored his sixth of the season to make it 2-0. The game was the second with Scott Parse on it, and he's settling in quite nicely. He had an assist on Brown's goal.

Ryan SmythBut the real story of the night was lazily-named "Geezer Line," as Ryan Smyth celebrated his 1,000 game by scoring a goal in the second period. As you may already know, Smyth was surprised by teammates when they skated out wearing mullets during the morning skate AND in the pregame skate. Although, I wouldn't really classify his hairstyle as a mullet. A mullet as I know it is "Business in the front, party in the back." A true mullet 'do is short on the top and sides and long in the back. Smyth just has long hair.

Regardless on the hairstyle, Smyth epitomizes the heart of this team. He's not afraid of getting in the corners, getting in front of the net, doing the dirty work. And he's often rewarded for his efforts. Drew Doughty almost connected with a beauty of a no-look pass early in the game. Everyone in the newsroom groaned in disappointment to see Rinne rob Smyth of a guaranteed goal. It was his only good save of the game.

Rinne tapped out after Jarett Stoll's goal in the second to make it 4-0. By that time, it was too late. The Kings dominated the entire game, with the slight exception of hits. But it didn't take much muscle to overwhelm the Predators, who are near the bottom of the league in goals per game, power play and penalty kill percentage. A stark contrast to the Lightning game, and the game served as sort of a pallet-cleanser.

The Kings are now off for another four days (!) before they take on the Stars. For all the rest the Kings have been getting, they'll quickly wish they had more off-days coming up. After the Stars game, the Kings will play six games in 10 days. I'll wager a guess and say Bernier will play next Saturday against the Islanders after his steady performance. Since Murray wants to reserve Quick for division games, Quick will handle the duties for the Dallas and San Jose games. After that, it's anyone's guess what will happen.

Jim Hill doesn't know the Kings
Things could drastically change before then. It always seems to. The current wave of success the Kings have been on are sure to thrust them to the top of everyone's power rankings. Last week, the Kings had three writers rank them No. 1 , a number that's sure to increase after this week's impressive showing. They are the "sexy" pick right now, with many people finally starting to take notice.

When the L.A. Times' snarky columnist Bill Plaschke comes to a game, and the Kings lead Jim HIll's sports report, you know things have turned around. Although it would be nice if Ch. 2's Graphics Department actually got the logo for the Kings correct.

But as with all good things, it'll come to an end. It has to, right? Or will this season be different?

“It’s an honor. It’s overwhelming,” Smyth said. “There’s a lot of sacrifices that go on at the homefront, but that’s part of being a professional athlete. You look back and there’s been some great times, some tough times and some sad times. You go through so many different emotions throughout every game. I’m sharing this day with my mom because it’s her birthday, and she’s here today.”
"We're excited about it, but we can't get complacent. The moment you get complacent, that's when teams start to take advantage of you," Smyth said after the Kings tied a club record set in the 1980-81 season by earning their 10th victory in 13 games.
• L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke: Come along for a Kings joy ride
This will come as no surprise to the thousands of fans who love this team with a passion unmatched on the local sports landscape, but for the rest of us, well, what do you know? Even on a football Saturday, it turns out I went to the perfect place to catch an L.A. buzz.
• LAKings.com: Kings beat Predators 4-1
It was successful day for Smyth, one that started when teammates took the ice for the morning skate wearing mullet wigs in tribute to Smyth and his famously free-flowing hair. Smyth had more than 40 friends and family in attendance, and made them happy with a goal and an all-around solid performance.
They said it
“It’s nice to get them all from different angles and different areas, because we work on it a lot, going down the wing taking shots. Whether it gets off the far pad or a rebound, we work at it pretty consistent." – Ryan Smyth, on the Kings goals.
“It was great. I can’t complain about that. All the shots were from the outside. They had a few scoring chances on the power play, but most of it was outstanding.” – Jonathan Bernier, on the Kings' defense.
I love the way Justin Williams is playing. His game is right on point. He’s on pucks, he’s making great plays. We saw it with the play that he made tonight on the goal. He looked a little Gretzky-like with those evasive moves, high on the offensive-zone blue line. It was pretty amazing stuff. That’s the way he has performed all year.” – Terry Murray, on Justin Williams.
 

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