Truth be told, I was expecting a 10-2 shellacking at the hands of the team everyone is saying to concede the Stanley Cup, aka the Tampa Bay Lightning. While the best team—maybe since the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens—handed the Kings their 8th straight loss (0-5-3), it felt about a hundred times better than the previous seven losses.
On a day when general manager Rob Blake called out his veteran core to lead it was the young guys who almost led them all the way:
- Goals from Alex Iafallo, Jonny Brodzinski (first game back), and Austin Wagner (his 9th).
- Jack Campbell standing against the Lightning’s Murderer’s Row through 65 minutes.
- Solid D from Matt Roy and Paul LaDue
The family texts tonight wrap this game up better than any pithy game summary or running diary I could have written. They went something like this:
Me: Kucherov might get 15 points tonight.
My son: That’d be funny.
Me: LaDue against Kucherov isn’t funny.
Son: Doughty against Kucherov.
Me: A minute five in. 1-0. That didn’t take long.
Me: Could be 8-0 faster than you can say Colorado Avalanche.
Son: This isn’t going to go well tonight.
Me: Posts. Lots of posts.
Holy post. Holy @1JackCampbell. #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/x9okddQ9qm— LA Kings (@LAKings) February 26, 2019
Me: 2-1 though.
Me: I mean, it’s 2-2.
Me: I mean, it’s 3-2.
Me: I mean it’s 3-3.
Son: What. Just. Happened?
Me: Four goals in seven minutes!
Daughter: I hate shootouts.
Me: Kovalchuk scored in the first round of the shootout…of course he did.
Kovalchuk's shootout goal: https://t.co/W3BM858U9x#LAKvsTBL #GoBolts #GoKingsGo #LAKings pic.twitter.com/sbc956oQN0— Eric (@Kingsgifs) February 26, 2019
Son: Sick moves by Kopitar. Doesn’t he know we need Jack Hughes more than another point?
Kopitar's shootout goal: https://t.co/YGyUSLw3hP#LAKvsTBL #GoBolts #GoKingsGo #LAKings pic.twitter.com/VJp37hUyJF— Eric (@Kingsgifs) February 26, 2019
Me: Close again. At least we can’t blame Willie Desjardins for this one.
Daughter: Well, I know you both don’t believe in moral victories but that is one. Best team in the league and we take them to a shootout after being down 2-0.
Next: The Kings wrap up the road trip on Tuesday against Justin Williams and the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I think it comes down to at the end of the day when I think everyone’s had a tough season, but it comes down to your personal pride essentially. What you want to be like as a player, and it’s easy to be good teammates and good players when things are going well. It’s when things are not going well that you kind of see what you’re made of. I don’t know, that’s what I mean when I say it’s the last 20 games. I don’t even know where we are in the standings, but we’re not going to make the playoffs, so it’s important for guys to respond in the right way and understand that how they play now can impact not only their future, but what happens to them individually and as a team collectively.”
“A hell of a hockey team over there. You know what? Soup played great. He made some huge saves for us. We need PP to get one. But that probably changed the game. We got a lot of good effort from a lot of guys, especially in the third. We made a couple of turnovers. We’re probably on the other end of that. We’ve got to win games, right? We can say we did a lot of good things. We’re here to win hockey games. We’re all playing for jobs, here. We’ve still got a lot to play for.”