This is going to be a rather stream-of-consciousness recap, rather light on the numbers, because I just got home from the Staples Center. And it was an, ahem, interesting game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Toronto Maple Leafs, so there's plenty to talk about. Feel free to correct any factual errors or incorrect assertions I make in the comments!
Quick vs Bernier. Winner: Reimer?
After Martin Jones backstopped the Kings to a win in the teams' first matchup, we did finally get to see Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier face off. That lasted all of one period, as Bernier left the game after twenty minutes due to an undisclosed injury. It was a blessing in disguise for Toronto, as above-average-backup James Reimer came in and slammed the door on the Kings' offense. 31 saves later, the frustrated Kings were trudging off the ice with a loss, thanks largely to the efforts of Reimer.
Meanwhile, Bernier gave up two goals in his short stint, and Quick gave up three on 29 shots. That's not horrible, and Quick was a big reason the Kings were leading the game earlier on. But the second goal (an unscreened slapshot by Carl Gunnarsson) was one of the weakest he's given up all year. Quick and Bernier will have to wait until next season to provide a real duel.
Special Teams Give and Take Away
Only two of tonight's five goals were scored at even strength, meaning that the power plays played a big part in the eventual outcome. LA scored on their only power play of the first period, and did so quickly; Drew Doughty got into the zone, chipped the puck through, and made a perfect spin-pass to Anze Kopitar. Kopitar's one-timer was perfect, like Anze Kopitar. But the Kings also took three "careless stick" penalties in the first period. They only got away with the first two, because on the third, they forgot to defend half the ice and gave Dion Phaneuf room to deke Quick.
As for that third special teams goal? It was a shortie, and it was a killer. Kopitar missed the scoring chance you see in the photo at the top of the page, one of many golden opportunities he was denied on tonight. He looked skyward in disbelief, and more importantly, forgot to skate back on defense. The rest of the team was similarly slow, setting up a 2-on-1 for Toronto. Mason Raymond beat Quick cleanly up high on a great shot that nonetheless probably could've been stopped. It would be the game-winner.
Marian Gaborik is On the Board
Three games without a point isn't a terrible slump by any means. Having said that, it was still very nice to see the newest LA King get himself on the scoresheet tonight. He got a secondary assist on Kopitar's tally, and more importantly, he scored the opening goal. It wasn't a dazzling solo effort or anything, but a messy redirection is probably just fine with Gaborik. The first line of Gaborik, Kopitar, and Justin Williams was excellent all night, and Gaborik was the most effective player on the line.
Drew Doughty is Alternately Incredible and Maddening
I can't recall too many games where Doughty has carried the puck as much as he did tonight. That led to some dazzling moments, including his assist on Kopitar's goal, and the Toronto Maple Leafs fans behind us expressed disbelief at some of the plays he made. Tonight, however, those moments were mixed in with times where Doughty tried to do too much with the puck. Also, even when you're playing a team that struggles defensively, you can't just try to split the defenseman every time you enter the zone. Jake Muzzin had a very good game aside from his (questionable) penalty, but Doughty was... up and down. Mostly up, but still.
Jim Fox is, Yes, a Legend
It was Foxy's Legends Night tonight, and it was well-deserved. In addition to 9 seasons on the ice and 24 years in the booth for LA, he's also done a whole lot for charity and for the community in his time with the Kings. Have a glass of wine and yell "Whoa!" today.