Game 3: Kings 6, Wild 3
So, which team showed up at Staples after two dramatically different games? Would it be the focused, skilled bunch that ran roughshod over San Jose? Or would it be the tentative and sloppy crew that dropped the home opener to the Coyotes. How about a combination of both?
The Kings followed up their excellent effort against the Sharks on Tuesday with an offensive outburst which netted the top line of Kopitar, Smyth and Williams 5 goals and 6 assists between them. Add to that another Ted (Don’t Call HIm Teddy) Purcell third period goal and another solid performance by Jonny (Don’t Call Him Jonathan) Quick, and the Kings win another game. The power play has netted L.A. five goals, tied for tops in the league (yes, I know it’s early) and scoring with the man-advantage at a 41 percent clip.
Then there’s the penalty kill… yeah… Not so good. Dead last in the league at 36 percent. (Yes, it’s early… I get it). The Kings allowed 7 PP goals, tied with Montreal and Carolina, and just look sloppy.
You know what it seems like to me? Last season, Terry Murray comes in and is given this lineup full of offensive potential. Instead of opening it up to see how she runs, he starts pumping the brakes, testing the handling, kicking the tires, yielding to bicyclists… He started preaching defensive awareness, and improved on the Kings’ dismal defensive showing. The result? They had the 11th lowest goals against average, and played relevant games deep into March. Of course, their 5-on-5 scoring was down, but they were practicing restraint and defensive responsibility.
This season, it looks like Murray has decided to throw caution to the wind, put the top down on this purple-and-black convertible, slammed his pedal down to the metal, and let his silver hair flow in the breeze, kicking the offense into high gear to see what this baby can do. The result? An average of 5 goals a game, and every player on the top three lines tallying at least two points. The flip side? Like I said, poor PK play.
Yes, I am excited to finally see what many people have said for years: this team can flat out go. We do have three lines that can cause fits to opposing teams. But I’m also anxious to see if they can incorporate their defensive game from last season, and combine it with this season’s offensive prowess. Once Terry Murray and the boys do that, this team will no longer have potential, this team will be flat out dangerous.
“The top line carried us tonight,” Jack Johnson said. “When your best players are playing well, there’s a good chance you’re going to win.”
“The big thing is that we’re communicating in practice and obviously it’s leading out into the game situation,” said Smyth, acquired in a trade with Colorado this summer. “It’s a good mix and things are going good right now.”
• CBC: Smyth, Kings overwhelm Wild
Michal Handzus also scored for the Kings (2-1-0) and Jonathan Quick made 26 saves as the team completed a three-game homestand to open the season.
• LAKings.com: First line shines as Kings beat Wild 6-3
The night also ended well for Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi, who, after the game, received his Stanley Cup championship ring from Kings president Luc Robitaille. Scuderi was a key member of last season’s Pittsburgh Penguins championship team.
They said it
“That line was as good as I’ve seen them since they’ve been together, throughout the training camp and the early part of the season. Hopefully they can keep building on that. Williams, that was maybe his best game. He was very heads up, very intense, really skated very well tonight.” – Terry Murray, Kings head coach
Other royal observations
• Frozen Royalty: Kopitar Line Leads Kings Over Wild, 6-3
Although their penalty-killing continues to leave a lot to be desired, the Los Angeles Kings are riding high on the backs of their top line.
• Examiner.com: Kings hoping for Greener pastures
Well, to paraphrase the noted philosopher Kermit the Frog, “It’s not easy being Greene.” And it’s that lionhearted mentality that makes teammates and opponents alike respect what Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene brings to the table every day.
Around the Kingdom
• The Royal Half: Fugly for the win!
It doesn’t matter if you saw it in HD, SD or while wearing your BVD’s… it was another Kings victory!
• HockeyBuzz’s Matthew Barry: Kings Cap Off Great Night In L.A. 6-3 Over Wild
The fans in Chavez Ravine were happy.The fans in Anaheim were happy. The fans in Staples Center were happy. While it looked as though the Kings would command a repeat performance of two nights ago when they blew a four goal lead to San Jose, they held off a 3rd period Wild barrage and outlasted the onslaught to prevail 6-3. Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Ryan Smyth combined for9 points.
• Inside Hockey: Living on the edge of the crease
Word of advice: if you want a Ryan Smyth autograph, it might be a good idea to try this on your envelope: Kings #94, Edge of the Crease, Staples Center, Los Angeles. The letter carrier who works the 90015 zip code won’t even blink. And on game nights, that’s where he or she will find Smyth.
• Battle of California: Let’s Do Some Lines
The Wild tried to avoid the fate of the San Jose Sharks by splitting up their top line to get away from Fro-Hand-Meat, but the result was that they didn’t have one line strong enough to stop Smyth-Kopitar-Williams from running roughshod over their defense. Then, while the Wild were focusing on matching up with those two lines, the Purcell-Stoll-Brown line snuck in a goal to put the game away.
• Kings Kool-Aid: How the top teams spend their cap space – From The Rink
• A Queen Among Kings: A Regular Occurrence?
• Caligiuri’s Corner: Staying Fresh on the Road Requires Experience
If you think for a moment that eleven days on the road requires eleven suits, eleven shirts, and eleven ties…you are stone cold wrong. Traveling in the NHL requires a unique skill; deception.
From across the aisle, the Minnesota viewpoint
• Star Tribune: This time, a three-goal deficit is too much
Smyth’s beauty of a deflection came 67 seconds in — after Harding didn’t see a Williams shot from way out moments earlier. Harding lucked out on that one because it rang the left post.
• Russo’s Rants: Los Angeles Kings 6, Wild 3
The Kings send two guys to the net almost every time in the offensive zone. Richards said, “We talked about this being a team that goes to the net and we have to be strong out front of our net. They got two deflections with guys just standing there.”
• Hockey Wilderness: Game recap
Tonight, there would be no comeback. While Martin Havlat finally got his first goal in a Wild uniform, the Wild had no answer for Ryan Smyth, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and the rest of the Kings.
Peeping the dailies