Homecoming For Many; Kings 5, Leafs 3
After a debilitating migraine yesterday morning, naps during the daylight hours, and dropping someone off at LAX at 4:45 this morning, I'm finally able to write out my thoughts on the game where the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted the Los Angeles Kings at home. On paper the Kings won 5-3 and the play on the ice actually supported those stats! For a lot of these young kids, playing in Toronto is a highlight since so many are from the area, including Wayne Simmonds and Drew Doughty. Last night was no exception since the Kings haven't played in Toronto since 2005, which is completely ridiculous. No one supports having that type of gap in the schedule.
Simmonds and Doughty showed up in the game, as per usual; but hands-down star of the game was captain Dustin Brown who made things happen, acquired three assists, and ended the night at a +2. His passing was crisp and made for some beautiful goals like the Kings' second goal tapped in by Jarret Stoll. One noticeable difference in this game as a whole was that the Kings weren't looking for the dirty goals because they basically didn't need to. The Leafs opened up enough space for them to make that second and even third pass for the prettiest goal, which I wasn't expecting and I won't be expecting that again. Scoring those dirty goals is how the Kings will grind through the rest of the season.
Even though the top line of Anze Kopitar, Simmonds, and Brad Richardson didn't have a hand in all the goals last night like in the last game, they still didn't drop off in their on-ice presence. All played a good number of minutes with Kopitar notching another point. I'm liking the performance and production of this line over all and I'm curious to see how Terry Murray handles them. On a side note: I must address the high-sticking call on Jason Blake against Doughty. That was NOT his follow through on his shot; that was Blake not getting his stick down for whatever reason. Perhaps he was thinking about getting another $4 million in the bank. Thankfully Doughty wasn't hurt; I'm quite angry but will keep my mouth shut.
Ok, back on track: I was definitely surprised at how soft the goals were against Jonathan Quick. The over-the-glove goal by Niklas Hagman was eyeopening. Granted, he always finds away to score on the Kings, it was a shot that Quick should have easily made. Yes, he got better at the end of the game, but whew, it was getting dicey. On a positive note, CTV published a story of recognition on the Kings starting goaltender. Who doesn't love a good night's sleep?
With the standings in mind, the Kings have jumped in front of the Nashville Predators. They've won three in a row and now possess 63 points. What's more amazing (and maybe even achievable) is that the third seed in the Western Conference is just 4 points away. Their next game is tomorrow, Thursday the 28th against the Columbus Blue Jackets who are sitting 14th in the West with 51 points. This team had been running somewhat smoothly at the beginning of the season but have definitely hit a roadblock they haven't been able to get out from under. That being the case, I'm hoping this is an easy win for the Kings.
Much thanks to PPP, Chemmy, and everyone else at Pension Plan Puppets. I do feel a bit bad for contributing to another loss in that column, but they have Brian Burke. He's ruthless enough to get the job done. Go Leafs! But, more importantly, GO KINGS GO!
Some points from Rich Hammond regarding Ilya Kolvalchuk and how he works in with the Kings. This will definitely be a topic that will not go away until something legitimate happens. Here at SBN, we and Rudy Kelly will be on the lookout for the latest news and will be bringing analysis until we bleed out our eyes.