Schultz on the hit: "I fell, I’m facing the wall and then all of a sudden my face gets driven into the dasher there. I don’t know why. There was plenty of time to not do that."— Sam Werner (@SWernerPG) January 19, 2018
First things first. As a fan of the Los Angeles Kings, I still agree with the article title of Mike Darnay of Pensburgh: Dustin Brown’s hit on Justin Schultz has no place in hockey. The NHL let Brown get away scot-free by only fining him $10,000 and not suspending him. To quote the prosecutors in the Oscar Pistorius case, the sentence is shockingly inappropriate. Worse, the league undermined its own efforts towards player safety. Brown’s hit on Schultz’s back, as Schultz was down on his knees, is the very type of play that the NHL is trying to prevent. Replays show that Brown had ample time, ample room to avoid the Pittsburgh defenseman. But yesterday, the NHL was deafeningly silent.
Moreover, fans of the Anaheim Ducks are right to question why Andrew Cogliano was suspended two games—ending his ironman streak at 830—for an equally unsafe hit from behind on Adrian Kempe on January 13, whereas Brown did not miss a game. Perhaps, the league is smart—the anticipated rain of boos and treatment from the Ducks players would be enough punishment.
But yesterday wasn’t the grudge match full of side plots that was anticipated, unlike the January 13 match that featured three fights in four minutes. Rather, it featured refreshingly high-speed, furious action from two teams that are largely reputed for heavy physical play. The game was scoreless after two periods, but it featured some heart-stopping chances, with Rickard Rakell hitting two posts and Alex Iafallo hitting one. And Jonathan Quick and John Gibson, both athletic-style goaltenders, were equal to task.
In the end, a deflection by Ryan Kesler from a point shot by Francois Beauchemin worked perfectly to win the game for the Ducks.
Iafallo scored his third goal of the season, but that was the lone Kings goal as Los Angeles has now scored only one goal and lost in each of its last three games.
The losing streak has now reached six. As of the time of this writing, the Kings are still winless after their bye week, and they are 2-7-1 in their last ten games. The Colorado Avalanche (when’d they get so good?) are 9-1-0, and the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars are 7-2-1 in their last ten. Four teams—Colorado, the Minnesota Wild, Anaheim, and the Kings are tied with 53 points for the final wild card spot, and second place in the Pacific Division now seems like a distant memory.