This one’s gonna be tough to swallow, and I am not talking about the Kings loss to the team in stripes. I’m talking about Slava Voynov having to swallow chunks of his tooth. Players will tell you publicly that bad calls happen, that missed calls happen, and that over the course of the season calls for, and calls against, will even out. I suppose that is true, as it happened in this game: some calls went against the Kings, and some calls went for the Wild. That’s symmetry, right?
When terrible officiating causes momentum swings, fans are left to wonder “what if.” But, when terrible officiating results directly in goals scored, fans and players alike are left wondering “WTF”.
Perhaps the Doofficials were blinded by the Northern Lights; we will get to the
crackhead crack officiating after the X Ray.
On the Wild’s second goal, in the 2nd period, Parise tripped Doughty, an obvious corkscrew only feet from the net, and a loose-puck scramble created a rebound that was tucked in from the space Doughty would have filled. With the Kings leading 3-1 in the 2nd period, that goal would never happen, were justice served, and instead the Kings Power Play that went 2 for 2 would have had a 3rd chance. Parise got an assist on the play because he had touched the puck; I guess you can’t give him two assists, but he deserved it.
With the Kings leading 3-2 in the 3rd (a score that should have been 3-1) Voynov got high-sticked with no call resulting, in the exact type of play for which Richards received a 4 minute penalty in Chicago. When Richards had the puck and tried to shoot, his follow-through was deemed an uncontrolled stick, and he was assessed the double-minor penalty.
When Clayton Stoner made a Wild swing at a bouncing puck, a puck he neither had possession of nor ever even touched, Stoner’s stick caused a chipped-tooth injury to Voynov but that resulted in no call whatsoever. Only seconds later, Jordan Nolan capped his terrible game by gliding lazily onto the back of Wild Goalie Nicklas “Get Off My Backstrom” and went to the penalty box for it. The ensuing 2 man disadvantage ended up generating a goal, but the Nolan call would never happen were justice served on the Voynov call.
The Kings had some lapses of their own, most notably the 4th line of Clifford/Fraser/Nolan. That line was among the many that used terrible puck management in the 3rd period, as players allowed themselves to be stalled out leaving the Kings zone, and just flat gave the puck away, too, all of which resulted in zone-time and momentum for the Wild. Get it out and get it in, the old axiom, became give it up and give it back.
Fraser and Nolan combined on a blue-line double-cross for the Wild’s first goal, when instead of continuing for deep possession cycles, those two turned the puck over on offensive zone entry, and the Wild transitioned nicely. Still, the play was covered, positionally, but Fraser double-double-crossed himself and his team when he allowed an 80 foot pass to cross past his idle, useless stick, instead of intercepting it, or at least deflecting it into the corner.
The pass went straight to the goal-scorer, Cullen, and his shot went over the glove of Quick, who reacted late and whiffed on it. I have looked at the replay very closely, and Quick seems to have a sight line to the puck, but he would be looking thru Voynov, so perhaps the release was partially screened. As well, Quick’s delayed reaction would support that idea, but nonetheless, one of the duties of an elite goalie is to find ways to see pucks.
Quick has struggled all year at picking up pucks off the release, whether screened or not, but it is such a small degree of difference in what Quick would actually do that it seems to be more of a rhythm, or a zig-when-you-should-zag thing than an actual fundamental flaw.
In the shootout, however, Quick was an entirely different story, and this one had a very unhappy ending. Quick was not just beaten, he was really never “in” the contest at any time, in all three attempts, culminating in a humiliating slow-speed 5-hole slider that ended the game. Quick continued acting out of character, breaking his stick and tossing the remnants into the air, showing frustration, rage and self-loathing. This bitter lack of emotional containment has bubbled out all this year, with more ardent appeals to referees, etc., but escalated to a new level in this game.
The Kings played most of the game in the Wild end, and the hits back that up: there were 11 hits total for Kings, 23 for the Wild. Often, the team defending is forced to hit guys when they cannot gain possession of the puck. Dustin Brown led the Kings with 3 including a leveling of Kyle Brodziak that was textbook tough and clean. Cal Clutterbuck (does he own a car dealership?) led his team with 4, tied with Nate Prosser.
Mike Richards continued in a support role (I’m being kind here cuz Richards scored a shootout goal), playing alongside Carter and Toffoli. Toffoli is working at a point-per-game pace, despite Carter’s recent drought, which drought ended tonight with a Power Play goal from just inside the Right Point off a wrister that I am certain split the air like lightning. No windup, no real exaggerated footwork, and suddenly it is already in the net.
The Richards line was first out on both Power Plays the Kings were granted, backed by Stoll and Doughty. The second unit this night was the Kopi line with MuzzVoy. The Kings scored 2 for 2, with each of the two units notching one.
The Kings skated 5 on 9 the whole night: they beat the Wild, but could not beat the the third team on the ice. I called them blind mice, but that does not account for their unique coloring. As well, I’ve realized that those 4 evolutionary abberrations stick to the mouse-like behavior of traveling along walls, scurrying back and forth at the edges and jumping suddenly when approached, plus they are much larger than mice.
Hmmm, they look like zebras but are sized like rats….maybe the headline should have been “Zebe-Rats Infest Excel Center, Kings Dodge Hanta Virus But Lose Game.”