First of all, what a freaking game. I wasn't completely stressed out until the puck dropped to start the game, but once it did, I was completely captivated. The Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings were all over the place in terms of consistency throughout regulation, but the Kings were the ones who could hardly control their own passes and were struggling to break up the Canucks' rushes. I was pretty surprised at how back and forth the play was, but credit to the Kings D-men, except for one who I'll mention later, as they blocked 18 shots toward their net.
Going back to the regular season, the last few games were frustrating ones, to say the least, but last night's was insanely stressful. I couldn't believe how I was reacting to every shot going either way. It was like the world was going to end if the Canucks scored on anyone of their 44 shots on net. And I'm going to have to deal with this for the next while? I guess it's a luxury for my team to be in the playoffs but I don't want to suffer a heart attack any time soon!
Even though the Kings lost the opening game, there are definitely positives to take from this one. Here are a few:
Jonathan Quick was great. Whatever he did to refocus did the job and he made some insane saves to keep his team in the game. He was the player of the night for the Kings, no question and was the only one who was consistent through the entire game.
- I'm definitely grateful that Brad Richardson was okay after his forced face plant into the boards courtesy of Andrew Alberts. Supplementary discipline? I'd expect it and I'm not going to lay out the reasons why; that story was a few months ago.
- [Update]: I can't remember which Canucks it was, but Jack Johnson absolutely destroyed him as he was coming around behind Quick. Jack met him at the pass and laid him out. Awesome.
But there are also negatives to take from this game, which the Kings will HOPEFULLY use to wake up.
Randy Jones needs to play less than 21:54 TOI. I'm talking way less. His weak sauce pass in the neutral zone in overtime lead to the game-winner for Mikael Samuelsson. His carelessness ended the game for the Kings! The magnitude of that statement is almost unbearable. He instills less and less confidence in me every shift he takes out out on the power play also. Terry Murray needs to make a decision on this problem ASAP.
- Hi and Hello to a one Mr. Anze Kopitar. Where in the hell were you in that game? Kopi was out there for an alleged 24 minutes, but hrm, there wasn't much I was gleaning from him. This would have been more frustrating if it weren't for other things equally frustrating.
- Ryan Smyth was trying his hardest to maintain some semblance of a first line, but there's something to say when the team gets both goals from specialty teams only.
Gut check? Reality check? Sure, why not. But what I'll keep in mind is that this team is gaining invaluable playoff experience for all of the young studs. In a Slam Sports article, Kings coach Terry Murray said about Drew Doughty, "There's going to be an innocence coming into [the playoffs]. You saw that with Drew at the Olympics."
There is no doubt the Kings need to adjust to how the Canucks are charging at them every shift, and they have a day and a half to figure it out. Game 2 is on Saturday. More than enough time to revamp the game plan if need be.
Go Kings Go.