I’ll tell you something right now, it is way more fun to write about hockey when the Kings win.
In case you missed it, which I hope you didn’t, the Kings beat the Sharks 3-0 Thursday night to take a 3-2 series lead which puts them one win away from their second consecutive trip to the Western Conference Final.
What was different in this game compared to the last two, or even arguably three, games? This leads me to a new segment I'm going to start where I talk about things I thought the Kings executed well which aided their victory, or stood out in a loss, and I'm going to call it....
Well, the Kings were forechecking, hard. They were also Four-Checking really well (penalty kill, guys. Get it? Because...four players...ok). The Sharks had only 4 shots total on their 3 power plays. They were clogging the neutral zone. Quick stood on his head, and drew a penalty on the guy who accused him of diving. HA!
Lots of offensive zone time, thus leading to a lot of shots (29). Not all of them were on net, but the Kings were able to get a lot of shots off, despite the fact that many went wide of the net or were blocked by Sharks players (19) other than Antti Niemi.
They won more faceoffs than the Sharks! (37-35) Trevor Lewis's faceoff win against Joe Thornton was especially significant, as it lead to Slava Voynov's goal. More on Slava and Thornton later.
Anze Kopitar finally scored. Jeff Carter scored (an empty netter) but he fooled just about 18,000 people, including the Staples Center lighting crew, into thinking he had scored in the second period.
Kings outhit the Sharks 51-24. That's absurd. Like I said, forecheck.
And this ends the first ever segment of Good Things.
Kings fans: if you think the series is over, please don’t get ahead of yourself. Game 5 was the best game the Kings have played this series (if not thus far in the playoffs). The Sharks are a good team that is, as we already saw, capable of winning two games in a row. The series could easily be 3-2 the other way.
But hey, it’s not 3-2 the other way so that’s pretty cool. It’s pretty obvious that if the Kings can replicate their level of play in Game 5 in Game 6 on Sunday, they’ll win the series. Doesn’t take an expert analyst to figure that out. It’s pretty much deductive reasoning.
Other things the Kings can do?
Special Teams: While the referees seem to be letting the boys play, and calls are far and few between, it seems to me (I am in no way claiming to be unbiased) the calls are going the Sharks way. Now that I’ve got that out of the way; the Kings are doing a good job on the penalty kill, but if they really want to crush the Sharks’ and more importantly their fans’ hella hopes, score more power play goals. Fun Fact: the Kings had a WHOPPING 2 shots on the PP. Shorthanded? Kings had 2 shots.
Voynov’s goal was technically even strength last night, but came immediately after a power play had ended. The power play goals shouldn’t be coming at the very end of the 2 minutes of offensive freedom. Score early and often. Both teams were 0/3 on the PP last night.
The Opposite of Special Teams: By this I mean, stay out of the penalty box. The Kings are a pretty disciplined team, and don’t take many dumb penalties ie. those that come after the whistle just to get back at an opposing player for chirping.
Joe Thornton didn’t have such an amazing game last night, definitely compared to Game 4. Whether this is due to his own inconsistency, or the Kings being able to shut him down, it doesn’t really matter to me, as long as he doesn’t do this again...
*wipes single tear from face*
God, that was horrible. The best revenge? Besides the obvious...
...Win a dad-gum road game in San Jose. I really don’t think my body is capable of handling a Game 7 until the Finals. What happened to the team that lost 1 road game in the playoffs last year? Sometimes I just don’t get it. But since we’re sort of, kind of, technically the #2 seed now, road success isn’t nearly as important as home success.
Along the lines of home ice advantage:
The Red Wings are ahead 3-1 in their series against the Blackhawks. Yes, the team that didn’t lose a regulation game until over halfway through the regular season is on the verge of elimination.
Red Wings fans: I wouldn’t get your hopes up. There’s no way a seed as low as 7th place can make it to the Cup, let alone win it...
That being said, SHOULD the Kings make it to the next round with the Red Wings, home ice goes to the Kings. Seeing how the Kings have yet to lose at home in the playoffs, or for the last 12 games, that looks to be pretty beneficial. But keep in mind, if there's one team that has a lot of fans in LA, it's the Red Wings. I can't even remember the last time I saw the Kings and Red Wings play in each other in the playoffs...or...can I?
*To save time go ahead and skip to 5:10*
This was the FIRST Kings win this playoffs without Alec Martinez in the lineup. After last night, it’s hard to justify putting Martinez in. Jake Muzzin was firing rockets from the point. Only 2 counted as shots, and he had a giveaway, but I was overall impressed with is play. Matt Greene looked almost back to his original form, throwing the body around (4 hits), standing guys up on the blueline. To top it off, he was +1 (but that's sort of a hollow victory, I guess when no one on the team was a - last night). And Slava Voynov had a goal. Can’t really complain about the results from the game last night.
Daryl Sutter isn’t going to sit Doughty, Voynov, Scuderi, or Regehr. With Muzzin offering offensive firepower and Greene finally stepping up his game, looks like the days of Martinez are coming to a close unless Muzzin starts making tons of rookie mistakes. Even then, Muzzin has 2 inches and 10 pounds on Martinez so he offers more of a physical presence in the defensive zone.
As of Sunday I’ll be back in Austin. I fully expect to be kicked out of multiple sports bars due to boisterous, inappropriate, or even downright offensive behavior throughout the rest of the playoffs. And my sleep cycle will be messed up during home games (yes, I am blaming the hockey games).
Although, the Kings are now 5-0 when I attend the games. So I think it is in the team’s best interest that we crowd source the funding to fly me to and from Austin and L.A. because the boys need me. Especially during the finals. Really airfare is all that will need to be paid for. Tickets and board in L.A. are already paid for. Thinking about starting an indiegogo page.
Starting an internship/job next week, so posts may not be as frequent in the coming months (because they have just be SO FREQUENT so far right?!?) But you can always follow me on twitter, @SuttersLonghorn for a good time. I tweet about seeing celebrities at Kings games and then get called out for being a jerk about it. It's great.