The Kings cruised through San Jose like passengers on the latest Carnival Lines disaster. Lost at sea during an understandably tired performance against Phoenix, the Kings hoped to right the ship but ended up floundering instead. In a choppy game, the Offense powered up but could not un-snag the anchor that was Defense and Goaltending.
On to the Sonar Chart:
It’s a team game. It’s easy to point fingers. The Kings don’t, as they told us from last year, when even through circumstances that got Terry Murray fired the team in the room held strong and just supported each other in times of need. That is admirable.
In that vein, I am gonna pretend I am not pointing fingers here. Instead, let’s just say I’m going to not-so-gently describe which of the team needs the support right now.
Jonathan Quick is not picking up the puck. He is not seeing the release, and he is not reacting properly. Whether from inability to find the puck thru screens, anticipate the play, or just start in good position and sometimes let it hit him, Quick is struggling to process the plays. He is not making big glove saves at all, he is not making big scramble saves as often as his style dictates he must, and he has not, to my recollection, had one great game this season where he seemed completely “on.”
Jim Fox last night described the third goal for San Jose, the Power Play goal from the Blue Line by Logan Couture, as a screen shot. I disagree. This first screen grab shows Fox’s view on the initial replay, and I grant you it does look like a screen of Quick.
However, the photo sequence below shows Quick following the pass from Thornton, setting for the shot, seeing the release, reacting to the direction of the shot, and adjusting his body to make the save matching his body position with the trajectory and placement of the puck.
Quick sees the pass from Thornton, below.
Quick sets for the shot, doing his usual routine of standing up, planting his feet, collecting his limbs and moving to the ready position with stick down, glove and blocker out. Below he is shown mid-crouch, preparing, anticipating the release.
Quick sees the release, he has a straight sight-line past Stoll to the puck.
Next Quick is shown having seen the release, the puck is just behind Stoll and Quick is reacting, dropping to save position in timing with the shot. He has already decided the puck is coming to his left elbow area.
In the picture below Quick drops, aiming to stop the puck he has seen the whole way as it continues in a straight path; no tips, no screen. The puck is the blur next to #12 Marleau’s hip. Quick is looking at the puck.
Below, the puck gets thru. It’s a goal, because Quick just missed it. Like goals against Dallas, the crook of the arm is again the weakness, in another goal at elbow height on his catching, or left, side. He saw it all the way, a shot from far out, no tips, no screen and it went in.
Add to that goal the one earlier, from above the circle on a wrist shot during a well-defended Sharks Power Play. On just a simple entry, the Shark (Matt Irwin) receives a pass at the left point, Doughty closes to pressure and forces a wrist shot from way out. Quick drops to his pads. The problem is, the shot is coming in high, and it goes over his shoulder. This puck is not deflected by Doughty, and the shot is not screened by Doughty. This cannot go in, but it does.
Below, the pass is received by Irwin, a guy who had 2 goals in his 17 game NHL career.
Next, the shot from the far edge of the faceoff circle has just passed Doughty’s stick on it’s way to the promised land.
The puck has hit the crossbar and fallen past the line, after Quick dropped to his pads and exposed the area the puck was headed towards.
Goalie lapses were not the only gifts tendered the Sharks.
Again, it is a team game. When not everyone plays a team game, they systems break down. Enter Drew Doughty.
The glaring giveaway when Doughty was stripped of the puck 27 seconds into the 3rd period is self-evident as a huge mistake, for a thousand reasons. Early in a period, the game-winner, last man back trying to stick-handle through a clogged point position, it goes on and on. That incident was not the only mistake, however, in a night of mistakes by #8.
Last season, I thought Drew Doughty’s worst game was against Washington, when a battle of #8′s saw Ovechkin undress Doughty in his sleep. This season, I am hoping that this will be Doughty’s worst game, it certainly was his worst so far. Giveaways on top of strips, shots into defenders from hesitation, indecisiveness on Power Play entry, and pure rover mentality forsaking sound defensive positioning in favor of the elusive first goal of the season. I saw Doughty’s play as selfish, oafish, and damaging.
The first goal was on Doughty, for the most part, too. Doughty pinched at center and let the puck get to a streaking Shark, resulting in a two on one. Muzzin had to lay down to block the pass, Carter backchecked properly and the rush was contained. Doughty arrived late, went to the corner instead of the net, lost his man, stared at the point man then did a pirhouette in the faceoff circle instead of getting to the net-front. Meanwhile, Brett Burns was circling from the corner, picked up a loose puck and was alone and un-marked in front of a scrambling Quick.
Doughty scrambled the play, lost his positioning, and apparently forgot he was a defenseman.
The Kings are going to have some tough decisions. Does Quick deserve to get more starts than Bernier going forward? Does Doughty deserve the amount of ice time he has been getting?
The Kings better plug these holes in their hull; water is rushing in, and points are just floating away.