Talk about high production value! The Jonathan Quick tribute montage to start the FSW telecast is worthy of a retirement jersey night salute or a player’s first night back to Staples after being traded. Here’s the genius Alex Faust voiceover:
“He’s backstopped the Kings to two Stanley Cups. He’s won praise league-wide for his tenacity and athleticism. He’s racked up individual awards—two Jennings trophies and a Conn Smythe trophy. While his understudies have done some heavy lifting, there’s only one Jonathan Quick. And he returns to the goal crease tonight in Edmonton as the Kings face the Oilers.”
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s the Los Angeles Kings vs. the Edmonton Oilers. This is only the third time that the 2018-19 Kings have gone for a third straight win (they missed both times). This evening’s running diary comes to you once again from the Media Guy Man Cave. The menu tonight is sparse since it’s raining and I was going from Hollywood to the Valley on the 101 Freeway at 5:00 pm. The best I can do are some Pop-Tarts and Diet Coke. I’ll do better on the next one.
0:27 – Oilers are wearing their 1980s retro jerseys with the orange numbers on the back. Let’s hope they don’t play like Gretzky, Messier and Kurri tonight.
1:21 – Drake Caggiula gets around Alec Martinez and powers in and is denied, but Jesse Puljujarvi picks up the loose change. Not the best look for either Martinez or Quickie on that play Edmonton 1. Kings 0. But wait, we have a Willie D. sighting as he’s challenging the goal.
That decision didn’t take long. I mean why would it? That was a wishful thinking challenge. We have a good goal.
Loyal readers of the running diary will note that I’ve offered three or four times to be Willie D.’s timeout coordinator at the games. I’d be the guy who acts as a Jiminy Cricket for the coach reminding him when to take a time out. Perhaps he didn’t want to hear such a thing in the third and opted to waste his time out 81 seconds into the game. He also lost the ability to challenge tonight. Hope that doesn’t haunt the Kings.
2:13 – We have an Ilya Kovalchuk sighting! Tonight, he’s all the way up to the third line with Matt Luff and Adrian Kempe. Boom, Kovalchuk applies the heavy hit in the defensive zone. Jim talks about Willie D. speaking at practice about finding a fit for Kovalchuk. Note to Willie: Kovalchuk’s best fit is not the fourth line or the bench for goodness sakes.
3:07 – We hear how impressed Willie was with the second line in the last game, a 2-1 win over Vancouver. Only there’s a catch: Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli have one goal combined in the last 11 games. Frightful!
6:00 – Milan Lucic is is now being deployed with Kyle Brodziak and Zack Kassian on what Edmonton coach Ken Hitchcock calls the Identity Line. Good to know. I’m just happy that part of Lucic’s identity isn’t that of being part of the Los Angeles Kings. They really dodged a salary cap bullet there. Forget about the numbers Hitchock says, Lucic is a third liner now.
6:48 – Dustin Brown finished off Connor McDavid into the end dasher boards. It’s not often you get a chance to wipeout the Second Coming. Brown relished the opportunity.
7:47 – Luff with the perfect no look backhand pass to Jujhar Khaira who promptly tests Quick who makes the clutch save on the rookie’s mistake. Drew Doughty taps Luff on the head no doubt telling him never to try a backhand up the middle in the defensive zone.
9:26 – McDavid takes away Doughty’s backhand pass and forces Drew into a penalty. Oilers on the power play early. Sickening graphic hits the screen: Kings are ranked 28th on the penalty kill this season. And since the Kings’ penalty kill has been even more horrendous than that since Willie D. took over, I’m sure they worked extra on that in practice and will be ready to defend.
9:33 – Nope. Wrong again. Oilers capitalize seven seconds into the power play. Alex Chiasson with the rebound and put back. Martinez, Muzzin, Cater and Toffoli were all on the ice for both goals against. Edmonton 2. Kings 0.
9:43 – Dump in takes a crazy bound of the boards as Mikko Koskinen goes behind the net to play it, nobody can corral it into the empty net. Kings still with a donut on the scoreboard. Listen, all of us love Kyle Clifford. But, here is reason #152 why Cliffy shouldn’t be on the second line: You need some soft hands there. Imagine, just imagine if the Kings had a offensive threat skating on the second line with Carter and Toffoli. Wouldn’t that be amazing? I wonder where they can find such a player…a boy can dream…
12:23 – Quick is back! A left pad save on Khaira leaves Edmonton wondering if they will get another goal tonight.
13:49 – Brown smashes a one-time feed from Kopitar past Koskinen. Iafallo with the Brown-like screen. That’s Brownie’s eighth goal in 15 games. Edmonton 2. Kings 1.
16:00 – Kopitar with the hooking penalty. Takes a seat in the box shaking his head from side to side. Oilers back on the power play. Nervous time.
18:00 – Kings kill that one down as McDavid plays the virtually entire power play.
18:18 – Doughty with another big hit on Khaira. Drew is everywhere tonight!
18:29– Khaira, who must think he’s in the McDavid Zone and not allowed to be touched, stalks Doughty and cross-checks his face. To the box, sir! Drew waves bye-bye to Jujhar in classic Doughty condescension. Willie D. sends out his new power play unit: Kopitar, Brown, Iaffalo, Doughty and Kolvachuk. Now we’re talking!
#LAKvsEDM #GoKingsGo #LAKings pic.twitter.com/oFyRR7nJlM— Eric (@Kingsgifs) November 30, 2018
19:12 – Roughing on Kassian. Doughty is in the Oilers’ heads now. Kings on a 5-3 for about a minute starting now. Surely the road power play drought has to end, right?
19:29 – And there it is, the Kings first road power play goal of the year. Carter with the nice short side goal off a Kopitar saucer pass seventeen seconds into the 5-3 advantage. They were 0-26 previously. Carter with his 20th goal in 30 career games against the Oilers. Edmonton 2. Kings 2.
End of Period.
That was a tale of two period halves.
The first half of the period…terrible. The second half of the period…pretty, pretty good.
Shots – Kings 13. Edmonton 12.
00:01 –Still a minute 12 left on the Kings power play.
1:13 – No dice on a second road power play goal tonight.
3:37 – Remember two games ago when Willie D. said Kovalchuk rode pine because he was worried about that about the matchup with the McDavid line? Yeah, the Kempe-Luff-Kovalchuk line looked darned good on that extended shift.
6:08 – Breakaway! But, Koskinen denies Brown’s five hole attempt and gets the whistle. You could taste the lead there. Also, Koskinen played with Kovalchuk the last four seasons with SKA St. Peterburg. Good to know.
6:27 – Koskinen again! This time denying Brown point blank.
7:35 – Koskinen has three straight wins at home, including two shutouts. Cam who?
7:41 – Koskinen! Stops LaDue’s drive from between the circles.
10:53 – Caggiula with the combo crunch/upending of Doughty sends the crowd in a mini frenzy. Then a helmetless Doughty runs into McDavid as he holds his own.
13:03 – Clifford with the friendly post-whistle cross-check on Caggiula who fires back with a half punch to the face. Fourth line Cliffy drops his gloves and stick and goes old time hockey there. Second line Clifford just scowls. Hmmm…
14:29 – Chiasson rings the post, but the red light stays off.
14:35 – Koskinen flicks an Iafallo drive off the blocker.
15:05 – Thompson jumps up to the third line taking Luff’s place with Kempe and Kovalchuk, who has already surpassed his TOI from the last game with nearly 25 minutes left. Looks like Willie D. read my open letter to him today.
10:04 – McDavid wanted a penalty. My take? He whines an awful lot.
End of Period.
Easily the most entertaining scoreless period of the year. McDavid held in check so far. Kings need to solve Koskinen.
Shots – Edmonton 24. Kings 22.
2:15 – McDavid gets free somehow and barrels down on Quick, backhands it in and despite having no idea where the puck is, Quick saves it. Right about here I realized how much we take Quick for granted. Every save he’s made tonight is without drama or extra expended energy. Total control.
3:54 – Toffoli with the backhander, SCORES! Kings 3. Edmonton 2.
Wait. We have a coach’s challenge for offsides. This never seems to go well for the Kings.
No goal. Reset the clock to 3:46. Kings 2. Edmonton 2.
5:50 – Alex weaves a tale about how all of the opposing media wants to know about Kovalchuk’s TOI and he tells us that he’s had regular ice time tonight. Note to Alex: Kovalchuk should be on the second line, if not the first.
9:59 – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the hook. Kings on the power play. Also, the Oilers play the Dracula music when a penalty is called against them just like the Kings do. Who stole it from who?
11:59 – Penalty killed. Worthless power play. Zero shots on goal. Last year the Oilers killed only 65% of penalties. I wish it were last year right about now.
12:45 – Oilers buzzing. Quick with two big saves.
13:34 – Kings with their third icing in a row, although the zebras whiffed there as Austin Wagner was clearly ahead enough to waive that off. Willie D. showing more emotion over an icing call than anything I’ve seen all year. Kings need a line change.
16:22 – Well, well, well, thank you for reading my letter, Willie D.! Kovalchuk on the second line with Carter and Toffoli. But, alas, that shift lasted about 21 seconds as Kovalchuk stays out with the third line for another 21 second shift. What in the world is going on with the lines?
16:58 – Unpressured, Iafallo puts it over the glass for a delay of game penalty. Unbelievable. The Kings will be lucky to survive this power play.
17:15 – Quick with the huge point blank stop on McDavid! Rogers Arena groans in unison.
17:40 – Oscar Klefbom with the huge blast from the blue line. He had the winning goal in OT vs. the Dallas Stars last game and if the Kings don’t put some magic together, this will be the game winner too. Edmonton 3. Kings 2.
18:02 – Toffoli on the break-in, but Koskinen with the save. Koskinen has been clutch at all the right times tonight.
19:03 – The Kings net is empty.
19:45 – LaDue with the bid off a nifty Doughty backhand pass. Koskinen with the save. Fifteen seconds left. Willie D. should call his timeout and draw of a set play on that clipboard he loves to carry. Oh yeah…sorry…he wasted that chance 81 seconds into this game.
19:58 – Kovalchuk’s blast is blocked. He recoups and sends it strong to the net but Koskinen is there.
End of Game.
Oilers are now 3-1-1 under Ken Hitchcock. Kings solid in their pursuit of Jack Hughes.
Shots – Edmonton 34. Kings 32.
FIFTY-SEVEN WORD GAME RECAP
McDavid vs. Doughty. Koskinen vs. Quick. The battle of midseason replacement coaches. The storylines were all there Thursday in Edmonton as the Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit to tie it late in the first period. It was for naught as the Oilers capitalized on a late third period penalty with an Oscar Klefbom rocket to win 3-2.
NEXT: The Kings Western Canada road trip concludes in Calgary tonight.
GAME NOTES: Stars of the Game: First – McDavid, Second – Klefbom, Third – Doughty… On the road, the Kings are 1-for-29 on the power play (3.5%)… Since the coaching change, they are 64.9% on the penalty kill… Kovalchuk has gone 11 games without a point, after starting the season with 14 points (5 G, 9 A) in his first 14 games. … Koskinen is 7-2-2 on the year… He became the fourth Edmonton goalie to record at least seven wins through his first 11 starts, joining Ron Low (8), Bill Ranford (7) and Grant Fuhr (7)…
KOPTIAR: “I thought we played a solid game, but offside is offside. It’s a tight game, and small details are going to make a difference. We didn’t score on our power play in the third, and they scored on theirs. That’s the difference.”
NUGENT-HOPKINS: “[Hitchcock is] pushing us to be our best. It is tough to come in a quarter of the way through the season and try to change things, but he has done a good job of reminding us the things we already know but also pushing us and keeping us honest.”
WILLIE D.: “Details always cost you. That’s the way it is. They had some other chances they could’ve score [on], so that’s just the way the game is. I think we could’ve been a little bit hungrier, maybe. We just had to find a way. We had that last power play, we didn’t generate enough on it.”
DOUGHTY: “A.I. makes so many great plays for our team. If anyone is even going to try to get on him about that, that’s not the way it is. A.I. plays amazing for us every night. He works his bag off, he’s a great teammate, he’s a great person, and when guys like that make little mistakes like that it’s on the PK to stop it and not allow that goal to go in. [Tomorrow] is another big game for us against another division rival. Tonight’s a frustrating one though and it’s going to be tough to forget for the next couple hours, so for sure.”