This was a game of signs, both good and bad. If the giant isn’t waking up, at least he is stirring. Though largely outplayed for the 1st period, Jonathan Quick held us in. Good sign. Though granted the most ice time, Brown, Kopitar and Williams continued their wild goose chase and came up with only eggs. Goose eggs. Bad sign, very bad sign. The Player X Ray tells us that Trevor Lewis had 2 assists, and was the only King with multiple points. That’s good for Trevor, but is that a good sign for the team? (click X Ray to enlarge, then back button to return to article)
Some signs are good, some bad, and some are both. We like Trevor Lewis to step it up in scoring, but we can’t be happy that his success is singular. Goose eggs from this game are gonna have to hatch into points against Calgary for Brown and Williams, and Kopitar’s play is gonna have to even out game over game.
Coach Sutter spotted the game Lewis was having, and made one of those genius, random line moves late in the game. In the last minute, with the flow of the game solidly back-and-forth as both teams were giving up rushes against, Sutter put Lewis on the Richards line with Carter. Hey, doesn’t that spot belong exclusively to Clifford? I mean Penner? I mean Gagne?
Lewis made the play leading to Carter’s game-winner, and even though Carter gets the red box in the X Ray it was Lewis that gets the Sunburn Award for this game. Sutter’s move was a real surprise, and it worked out to win the game. Lewis waited for the play to develop, buying time at the blue line after entry and letting the flow get ahead of him, and then the simple low, hard wrister was put in a place where Carter either screens it or tips it. Sold chance, great sign; smart play and drive to the net, and this time we get the last-minute goal instead of giving it up.
Last game Sutter used, as I said in a previous article, the Bingo ball cage to decide on who played next. I saw it on the bench, near the sticks, and he just let a ball pop up and that was who went out next. I swear it. This game, there was very little of that. The Lewis game-winner was one substitution; earlier in the same 3rd period he had Fraser with Richards and Carter. Perhaps Sutter’s Bingo “jones” was satisfied by his pregame decisions that put 2 guys on their opposite wings: King, who shoots left, played Right Wing, and the right-shooting Nolan played on Left Wing.
Lewis stayed at his traditional Right Wing, that is until he was injected into the Left Wing so he could go out and win the game for us. Rightly so, Lewis was also rewarded with being on the ice for the empty net, and though Stoll got the clincher Lewis picked up another plus to finish +3. As such, Lewis is far and away the winner for Knight Of The Realm.
Slava Voynov, as the X Ray reveals, is developing very rapidly into a very solid defender, equal or better than Drew Doughty as a stopper. That’s a good sign for Voynov, but it could be a bad sign for Doughty; he’s supposed to be our best defenseman. Doughty had 2 assists and was a plus-2, but Voynov had more ice time in spite of getting much less special teams work. If that means Doughty is gonna handle the offensive situations, then we are counting on a guy with zero goals this season. This game’s plus-2 brings Doughty’s team high negative down to minus-9. Voynov, with 6 points to Doughty’s 7, is the team-best plus 7, and his 2 goals leads the defense corps.
Another sign, a very good one, was Dustin Brown’s use of his shoulders this game, tallying 5 hits. I remember 2 of them being the “launch” variety, one on Nugent-Hopkins at center ice that seemed to propel the team into a more balanced game of effective checking and possession.
A bad sign was the continued weakness of the Penalty Kill. The Kings stopped only 3 of 4, and even the successful kills allowed more setup time than optimal. Last year the strength of the PK was to deny entry, force offsides and prevent setup time when the attacking unit was fresh. This game, the 4th-best unit from last year came in 18th, and dropped to 19th-best in the league. Paging Matt Greene to the courtesy phone…
Tonight’s game against Calgary could look very similar in style. Speed, low scoring, and the Kings traditionally have trouble in this situation of the Alberta double. It would be nice to see this team, the sleeping giant, show up cranky and mean even though they just got a win. 2 points is good, but the best sign of all would be to see these guys not at all satisfied with themselves, yet.