For more than 2 periods, the Kings game was more slapstick than slapshot, yet they overcame an effective Red Wings forecheck and their own repeated clumsiness to act out a victory. In what began as a comedy and seemed destined to end as a tragedy, midway thru the 3rd period the Kings trailed, but only by 1-0. The roar of the greasepaint (look it up) stepped on our lines, and the roar of the Lion was more like that of Bailey the Mime than King of the Jungle. But then, the Kings’ impersonation of a hockey team took a dramatic turn.
At 10:26 in the 3rd, with their second extended 5 on 3 of the game, the Kings continued to method-act their usual tactic of standing stock-still and making slow but well-telegraphed passes in an elite game of keepaway. That is, until Mike Richards mistakenly let Jeff Carter touch the puck on an errant pass, and Carter varied from the script by deflecting the pass into a shot that slid under Howard’s pads for a goal.
What followed was a few shifts for the Wings spent attacking in the Kings zone, but Anze Kopitar took the lead role in some furious possession by the Kings, too. Suddenly, all the banana peels were under the Wings skates, or maybe I should say under their winged wheels.
On a double shift opportunity, Kopitar appeared with co-stars Dwight “No-Goals” King and Trevor “Top Line Cameo” Lewis. The scene was probably composed merely to establish some Wings zone-time, yet Kopitar ad-libbed a beautifully crafted goal to give the Kings the 2-1 lead. More after the X-Ray…
Exchanging stage and film metaphors for cooking show terms, from Scuderi’s cake-mixer turnover when he was the last man back to Bernier’s hilarious glove-to-head-to-net egg-flip creating the Red Wings goal, and from Voynov’s ham-footed stumble past the puck creating a 2-on-1 against to Brown’s 2 consecutive cookie-steals in the high slot leading to absolutely nothing, it seemed the Kings had teflon sticks and butter knives for skates. Maybe the ice was sprayed with Pam, or maybe the trainer was storing the sticks in a bucket of lard…
Normally sure-handed, even simple and short passes somehow presented extreme challenges, yet the Wings were never able to fully take advantage. Bernier was great when he needed to be, and much like Jonathan Quick the early soft goal by Bernier led to vengeful efficiency stifling everything the Wings could do.
Despite the Red Wings skaters outplaying the Kings in this game, Bernier outplayed the Red Wing goalie Jimmy Howard to earn a victory. The reversal seems fair, with the Wings having won the previous game despite being outplayed and outshot, 47-31.
Now, 5′s are wild, and no, I don’t mean Keaton Ellerby’s passes. The Kings own 5th place in the conference, have a home record of 5-1-1 so far, they have won 5 in a row and even their overall goal differential is a plus 5.
The best news is that the Kings now sit only one point out of 4th, with a massive 3 games in hand behind the Predators. The worst news has to be the Kings Power Play.
I have an idea for the Kings Power Play. It’s called the “Basketball System.” From now on, the entire offensive zone is subject to the 3 second rule. Players are not allowed to remain in one area for more than three seconds. As well, “travelling” will be enforced: players must pass the puck within one and a half steps. There is also no “carrying” the puck, players must pass or shoot, and instead of a 24 second clock we are going with the 12 second clock. Perhaps the Kings are unaware that such things as touch-passes and one-time shots exist, it really is the only logical explanation for the stagnancy we see game after game.
Having gone from the Ducks game to the Red Wings game, the only consistency is continuing to win despite giving up the first goal. I believe the stat is around 70% to lose when your opponent scores first, but the Kings have defied that two games in a row. Also, the Kings won a game when trailing after 2 periods, another stat that probably averages nearly 90 percent against league wide.
The Kings next play Vancouver on Saturday, and thankfully it’s an evening game. I doubt whether the Kings will be able to survive a similar effort in that game. The Canucks will be missing Ryan Kesler, so in a return to the acting metaphors let’s just say the Academy voters can now take that night off. Hopefully, the Kings won’t.