It’s the Los Angeles Kings versus the Dallas Stars. This could be a rather dry running diary because these teams do not score much. The Kings have tallied 107 goals (or 2.27 per game), while the Stars have potted 121 goals (2.57 GPG). So, it’s my thinking that the first to three goals wins.
Most of you know I have spent the entirety of November-December-January railing on the Kings interim coach about his timeout usage, special teams, and his lines (particularly the Ilya Kovalchuk nonsense). I was buoyed by this article, and this one too, but then the morning skate notes came out from LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen:
“...expect an alignment of Hagelin-Kopitar-Brown...Kovalchuk-Kempe-Toffoli...As for Kovalchuk, who had points in four of five games after getting the bump up to the top line while earning a regular shift, Desjardins hinted that there may be more opportunity for him to play alongside Kopitar and Brown. ‘It’s not that he won’t be there on that line again. Maybe he’ll be there tonight, maybe he won’t.’”
One can only hope Carl Hagelin is being shopped and the Kings brass are trying to make him look good. But jeez, this is brutal Willie!
On the bright side, tonight, we are live once again from the Media Guy Man Cave and since the boys are playing Dallas, the menu is an all-Texas spread, including all-beef ribs, brisket tacos, seven-alarm chili, and pecan pie.
Just as I call out Willie for his line shifting, he sends out his normal lines. I guess Willie was playing mind tricks on Jon Rosen. (Or maybe he was doing his Weekend at Bernie’s impersonation at practice and was actually asleep. We will never know!)
There’s literally no one inside the arena. Maybe 30 percent of the seats are filled. Tickets on Stubhub were around $8 today in the lower level and $50 for glass seats. Yikes.
7:30—One shot on goal by the Kings almost halfway through the period. Typical low level start. You can tell the boys really love to play for the interim coach. Stars with only three shots, so the First to Three Goals Wins Rule may be in effect tonight.
10:21—Hagelin to the box for a high stick. The Stars to the power play. They were zero for six last game which means they are, uh, due. Kings on pace for four shots this period.
12:21—Penalty killed. No shots on goal allowed. I think Tyler Seguin stayed out for the entire man advantage. [Editor’s Note: He played 1:19. So, yeah, pretty much.] It would have been great if Fox Sports West ran a talking head of Stars CEO Jim Lites ripping Seguin for the entire shift. You think the Kings have problems, check out this choice commentary from Lites:
“Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are f***ing horsesh*t this season”
13:45—Kovalchuk with the great read entering the zone and then the tic-tac-toe from Dustin Brown to Anze Kopitar that tipped just wide. This line is starting to gel.
18:01—John Klingberg off for hooking against Tyler Toffoli, which brings to mind the most frightful words of the season: Kings to the power play.
Kings 1. Stars 0.
18:04—Well, color me embarrassed....Kings goal! Looks like the only way the Kings can score on the power play is the old fashioned win the draw to the defenseman who one-times it in. Kopitar to Doughty off Brown and past Ben Bishop, who still hasn’t seen the puck.
End of Period.
Other than that power play goal, that was real work to find something to talk about that period. 13 total shots. One scoring chance. A Machiavellian Willie D. Old Stars gossip relived. I’ll take a +1 period every time. More Fun Facts: Kings are undefeated when leading after one period (6-0-0) and 13-4-1 when scoring first.
Shots: Kings 7. Stars 6.
There’s still less than half the seats filled and they are in the playoffs! Tough times for Dallas.
Kings 2. Stars 0.
4:39—Hagelin creates the turnover, Toffoli immediately gets it on net as Hagelin picks up the loose change, flicking it past Bishop for his first goal as a King.
Who’s interested in a speedy Swede? The Kings have one with an expiring deal. Do I hear a second rounder? A boy can dream...
My favorite part of this goal is Stars coach Jim Montgomery’s failed attempt to hide his disgust.
10:00—Stars with only two shots on goal this period. How long before we have a Jim Lites sighting? If this continues, someone else will surely be exiting Dallas in the coming days, scapegoat-style.
11:35—Kopitar gets caught with a trip during an extended Stars offensive zone trip. The Stars to the power play. They are zero for their last seven on the power play which means they are due. (Doing everything I can to send the reverse jinx their way.)
11:50—Toffoli leads the 2-on-1 break, stops and shoots it wide. Calling Adam Oates, please work with Toffoli on his shot. He’s got the passion and the desire, but not converting. Any help you can provide will be fantastic.
13:04—Jack Campbell flashes the leather and stops a sure goal on the 10th shot of the game by Dallas. That’s the first real scoring chance by the Stars tonight. And to think, they are in a playoff position. So far they look like the Kings have looked all season.
13:35—Two superior penalty kills by the Kings tonight. Who knew they possessed that ability? Not me...not you!
15:35—Austin Wagner rings the post. Bishop didn’t see that one either.
18:16—Brown absolutely lays out Tyler Pitlick in the Stars zone. It feels like 2014 tonight!
End of Period.
Kings with one of their best defensive performances of the year so far. Boos usher the Stars back to their locker room.
Shots: Kings 16. Stars 11.
7:34—TV timeout and not a second too soon. The Stars have come out with purpose, outshooting the Kings 5-0 and hitting a post this period, leaving the LA Icemen flat-flooted and scrambling to get the puck out of their zone. Third period starts have been concerning for the Kings all year. Tonight is no different as Dallas has seized the momentum.
12:39—Campbell with the stop. Kings being outshot 10-2 in the third. Someone ask Jonathan Quick to nudge Willie D. and see if he can wake him up in time to reinvigorate the troops.
12:52—Campbell with another save, looking to beat his former team in his first game against the team that drafted him in 2010. He lost his last four outings with the Kings, who provided no goal support for him, scoring two whole goals in those four games.
16:00—Kings being outshot 15-2 in the third. Willie...call that timeout. Get something going offensively.
17:26—Bishop pulled for the extra attacker.
Kings 2. Stars 1.
18:56—Esa Lindell with the deflection through traffic off a Alexander Radulov shot. Timeout Dallas. Can the Kings hold on?
19:27—Kopitar hits the empty net post! Dallas is still alive.
19:45—Dallas wins the draw and Campbell flashes the leather again denying the Seguin one-timer. Looks like Bill Ranford has put in extra time with Campbell on his glove hand. Looking sharp tonight!
End of Game.
Shots: Stars 30. Kings 19.
That’s the second career shutout for Campbell with 19 saves in the third period. Kings have points in both games so far on the three-game road trip at 1-0-1. Seven points out of the playoffs. Also, the Kings remain in prime position in the Hughes Sweepstakes. Changes are coming in Big D for sure.
Next: Saturday—The Colorado Avalanche host the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center.
And this from the number one star of the game: