Friday, May 17, 2013

Special Teams do Special Things

Well, last night was pretty crazy to say the least. You hate to see a hockey game be won or lost on a controversial delay of game call...unless you're me or really any Kings fan. I'll take it. I'm sure Trevor Lewis will take it. Daryl Sutter, if he saw it, will take it. It was great.

#PlayoffMartinez Update: 2 penalties. One of which cut our power play short by 31 seconds and, although it was technically even strength, resulted in the Sharks first goal 5 seconds after their power play ended. At this point I'm not so sure I want to keep up with my boy #PlayoffMaritnez, BUT...

...I suppose that's not a bad thing.

There was a noticeable tenacity last night in one of the rookie players, Tyler Toffoli, . This kid (he's 7 months older than me) really, really wants to score. He had the assist on Trevor Lewis's game winning goal, but also had 5 shots on goal. That ties him for the highest shot total of the night, on either team, with Drew Doughty.

Albeit none of Toffoli's shots went in, unlike Mr. Doughty's, he is definitely making progress, showing that he's not afraid to shoot like some guys (pretty much everyone on the top power play unit), and he's looser out there, making smart plays as opposed to the easy ones.

As a surprise to no one, except for Antti Niemi, Jeff Carter scored. Again. He just sniped it, far side, past Niemi on the Kings' first shot of the game. It was beautiful, sexy, filthy, etc. Here are a few of my favorite tweets describing the goal:

Check this out: the Kings weren't outshot in last night's game! Shots were even 31-31.

The Kings also had 2 less penalties called against them. 11 of their shots and 3 of their goals came on the power play. The Sharks did not score on the power play. Needless to say the Kings are winning the Special Teams battle.

Even strength: Kings were outshot 19-24. That's not too bad. All of the Sharks goals were even strength (counting the goal that came 5 seconds after Martinez's penalty had ended).

Again, I think the Kings are going to need to up their forecheck even more. Opposed to last game, the Kings didn't replicate their efforts of keeping the Sharks on the perimeter, and they had some SERIOUSLY good chances up front.

Jonathan, you're the man. (forget about the part where the Sharks score a few minutes later)

Anze Kopitar took a shot to the face (his own teammates shot) in the first minute of the 3rd period. Kings fans far and wide can most likely remember the last time the Kings played the Sharks in the playoffs without Kopitar in the lineup...

(wipes tears. composes self. continues writing) 
Here's a link to the video of it, if you want to watch, in other words, if you have some serious self-loathing issues.

So I think I can speak for everyone when I say, until Kopitar came back onto the ice later in the third, worried was an understatement. But when he came back into the game...

Props to Dieter Ruehle for playing the theme from Rocky when Kopi came back on the ice. That standing ovation was awesome.

The Kings are already thin up the middle with the absence of Jarret Stoll, so the prospect of Kopitar pulling a Sydney Crosby (too soon?) was worrisome.

That being said, Stoll's absence was really felt last night. The only King who was above 50% in the faceoff circle was Colin Fraser (60%). I'd give you the stats per player, but it'd just be depressing. I'll say this, last night the team as a whole won 32% of the faceoffs.

Brad Richardson came into the lineup to try and fill the void last night. He was a -1 with an assist on Doughty's goal (sidenote: Doughty clocked over 28 min. of ice time, wowsers). I recall reading somewhere that Richardson had the potential to add a bit of an offensive spark to the team, and sure enough the Kings scored 4 goals, one of which Richardson directly caused.

There's talk on the Twittersphere that Kyle Clifford could potentially be back in the lineup soon. He's a good physical presence on the ice which could be used as I felt the Sharks upped their physical game last night. The Kings did answer back with physical play from just about everyone, totaling 38 hits against the Sharks 31. Fraser and Lewis led the Kings with 5 hits a piece.

Now on to Game 3. The Sharks should feel confident going into their home arena as they outplayed the Kings for most of the past 120 minutes of hockey. It's only a matter of them getting bounces, staying out of the penalty box, and scoring on the powerplay before we have ourselves a tight series.

Be sure to follow @SuttersLonghorn on Twitter so you'll know when I post new things/take pictures of Red Wings fans at a game between the San Jose Sharks and defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.

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