"The dead cat bounce."
That's a real thing, typically used to describe the way a struggling sports team often reacts to a major shake-up, such as say a new head coach. This makes intuitive sense when you think about it: a team that was kind of shuffling its way through an otherwise uninspired season suddenly sees a new man in charge, and it's natural to assume that maybe this could be the start of a turnaround. After all, there are plenty of examples of struggling teams replacing their head coach in-season and then taking off; one comes to mind pretty quickly that I'm fairly sure you'd be familiar with. And beyond that, you want to make a good first impression for your new bench boss (even though often he had been behind the bench already in some kind of assistant role). So it's really no surprise that teams tend to come out flying after a coaching change.
Ottawa happened to fire their (2013 Jack Adams award-winning) head coach Paul MacLean on Monday (he quoted Taylor Swift in his post-firing press conference, giving us more proof that this was a poor decision). The Senators just so happened to not have another game until tonight's game. Against the Kings. Yikes.
At first, things went pretty much exactly as you would have expected. Buoyed by an early power play after Alec Martinez went off for tripping just 1:17 into the game (our pals over at THX BUD had a pretty good theory on this), the Senators outshot the Kings 5-0 through the first four minutes of the game. In fact, it would eventually be 8-0 Senators on the shot clock before Los Angeles would finally tally their first shot on goal, as Jake Muzzin fired a weak wrister directly into Craig Anderson's glove about 10:39 into the frame (on a power play). Yeah. The Kings were very bad in the 1st. The Senators were flying, and their aggressive forecheck was giving the Kings all sorts of headaches in their own zone, as it frequently became a multi-attempt adventure just to clear it.
The final tally wasn't pretty for the 1st: the Senators outshot the Kings 14-5, out-attempted them 21-10 (!) at evens and 15-6 in unblocked attempt. That lead to hilarious charts/graphs at the end of the first period like these:
(to read above: S is a shot-on-goal, M is a missed shot, G is a goal)
"But wait a second, I don't see any Gs." you're probably thinking. Well, that's because Jonathan Quick was awesome, friend! He stopped all fifteen shots he faced, even including some ridiculous ones (see that unblocked attempt chart you were just looking at), and was single-handily responsible for the Kings surviving Ottawa's super-dead-cat-bouncy 1st. Yay Jonathan Quick! Boo the rest of you guys!
Especially you, Drew Doughty. You did this:
That wasn't even the most embarassing thing Doughty did in this game, either. Oh and credit to THX BUD if you didn't know what those big @THXBUD letters over there in the corner meant.
Anyway, so the Kings came out for the 2nd period with a completely undeserved clean slate, and soon they had an even more undeserved lead! Matt Greene fired a point shot right off of a Jeff Carter faceoff win that beat a screened Craig Anderson just 1:47 into the frame, and if you, like me, were forced to watch TSN's feed you didn't see a single bit of that live. Literally the broadcast came back from showing some replay to show a puck in the net. Great job, TSN! Dear hockey broadcasts: SHOW THE DAMN FACEOFFS. Anyway. So the Kings had a lead and that was great. Even better, they totally reversed things on the Senators, outshooting them 7-0 in the first six minutes of the period. And a few minutes later, Justin Williams would add on to the lead, beating Craig Anderson five-hole after a clearing pass by Drew Doughty hit about three Senators through the neutral zone and bounced right to him. Nice.
Then this happened:
(credit to @SensUnofficial for the gif)
Bobby Ryan- who, by the way, is a complete asshole, if you were unaware- caught Brayden McNabb reaching and then made him look incredibly stupid. That's doubly sad, because not only does getting scored on always suck, but people will probably now forget how much better McNabb has been lately. Oh well.
Putting that aside though, the dead cat apparently bounce right out the window for Ottawa in the 2nd. The Kings, after playing that horrendous first, managed to outshoot the Senators 15-11 in the frame, out-attempted them 21-19 at evens, and topped them 17-13 in unblocked attempts. The charts thus looked a lot less silly through 40 than they did through 20. Don't take my word for it though:
Hey look there's even some Gs now! Hi, Gs!
Then came the 3rd period. Some crazy, crazy stuff happened in the 3rd period.
It all started when Erik Condra got called for tripping Jake Muzzin just barely a minute into the final frame (and uh, let's just say Muzzin has been watching his 'Best of Dustin Brown' tapes very, very closely of late). The Kings were well on their way to their typical nothing-happening power play when the puck got cleared back into the Kings' zone by Mark Stone. Drew Doughty- who I firmly believe was playing this game drunk- somehow let Stone nearly catch up to him despite a huge head start, then very nonchalantly went back into the corner and put the puck up the boards to no one in particular. David Legwand took the biscuit, fired it on net, and Drew apparently forgot to cover the guy who was just two inches away from him, because Stone got to the rebound untouched and easily put it past Quick to tie the game. Yep. Awesome work there Drew!
Luckily for the Kings, Drew would quickly redeem himself on the very same power play with a beautiful, beautiful cross-ice pass to Anze Kopitar as Kopi streaked in back door and.....why am I trying to describe this to you, just watch it yourself it was beautiful.
(here it is again in GIF form if video players make you sad)
That goal came just 36 seconds after Ottawa's shorthanded tally, as the Kings took the lead right back. Then, just 1:42 after that, we got some Trevor Lewis Magic!
(hat tip to Steph on this one)
Yes, Tyler Toffoli shoveled off a beautiful little backhand pass through the crease to an all-alone Trevor Lewis, who somehow did not shoot wide and instead gave the Kings a 2-goal lead for the 2nd time on the night. There's no goal that feels quite as magical as a Trevor Lewis goal, right?
So that was 3 goals total in just a 2:18 span early in the 3rd period, and after all that craziness things were bound to settle down a bit from there. The Kings continued their trend of playing well with the lead (certainly much better than they play tied; check out this graph to see what I mean) and had a good period analytically, outshooting Ottawa 16-10, out-attempting them 22-19 at evens and topping them 17-11 in unblocked attempts. The Senators did manage to get back within one very late in the period, as a point shot by Jared Cowen somehow got through a maze of bodies, probably deflecting a few times too, before beating Quick with less than 90 seconds left to play. But Tanner Pearson quickly iced things 24 seconds later with an empty netter, and the Kings managed to skate out of Ottawa with the victory. That dead cat definitely bounced, just not quite high enough.
Up next: a dreaded road back-to-back against some other stupid Eastern Canadian team, which thankfully I am not recapping.