Teal Shmeal – Bring On The Black And Blue Series – Kings v. Sharks 4-27-2013

The Kings ended on a good note, and look ready to jam the Blues. Solo performances combined against the Sharks to make beautiful music in a mostly soft-rock tune-up; next comes the downbeat as two similar teams will band together, trying to find the hard-charging rhythm that defines a Champion.

Last year, and this, the Kings rocked the Blues; nothing says the Kings cannot re-mix that performance.

Here’s the set list from the Sharks game, which suddenly seems meaningful only in relation to the future.

4-27-2013-SanJoseaSince the Kings and Sharks knew that the Blues had clinched 4th place, meaning that home ice in the first round was lost for both teams, this game was played much softer than it could have been. The only implications in the Standings were which team would play St. Louis, and which would play Vancouver.

(UPDATED: Earlier material was incorrect)

In both cases, the teams had a distinct preference, with similar reasons. The Sharks are 3 and O against Vancouver, but against St. Louis the Sharks are 0-2-1, from one loss in overtime. The Sharks took max points against Vancouver, and just one point against St. Louis. The Sharks record indicates they would rather play the Canucks. And so it would be.

The Kings not only swept the Blues out of the playoffs last year, they also have not lost to the Blues all this season having gone 3 and 0.  Meanwhile, against the Canucks, the Kings only won one game, and that was a squeaker in a shootout. The Kings took max points against St. Louis, but only 2 points from Vancouver.

Add to that the desperation of an aging set of twins coupled with the angst of last year’s playoff failure to the Kings in the first round, and Vancouver would seem to be the slightly less desirable team.

Conversely, even though the Blues play a heavy game and have added some strong defensemen in Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold making a series against the Blues a potentially draining battle for the Kings, the Kings record against these two teams indicates they would rather play St. Louis. And so it would be; the Kings got the Blues.

(END OF UPDATE)

This Sharks game saw the continued emergence of Brad Richardson as more than just a utility man that can fill in any position until some body comes back. Richardson has provided spark to any linemates he has spent ice-time with since returning to the lineup in game 35. Last night, his spark ignited multiple groupings, leading the team to victory with both effective checking and offensive playmaking.

Mike Richards sat out the entire 3rd period, and Brad Richardson filled his, umm, skates, most capably. Richards had been on with King and Lewis; Richardson skated with them for 3 shifts in the 3rd. The loss of Richards, due to “illness” according to Coach Sutter, caused some scrambling as various other players took his shifts; Carter skated with King/Lewis for a shift and Stoll did it for 2 shifts. This scramble at center would produce a new line this year, but only for one shift; happily, that one shift would produce the game-winning goal.

Before that goal, Richardson had been pulling double-duty centering his original line with Toffoli and Nolan, and also centering King and Lewis. Toffoli, by the way, had started the game at Left Wing, but in the 3rd period Sutter flipped Nolan to the Left and put Toffoli back to his usual Right Wing. These guys were effective together in both configurations, and indeed the first good scoring chance of the game for the Kings came from this line.

As I said, Richardson had been centering two lines in the 3rd period, and eventually Sutter inserted Carter between King and Lewis for one shift. The shortened bench also put Stoll out there in 3 out of 6 shifts in one sequence, so when Stoll’s next turn came up, Sutter asked Richardson to fill in for Stoll, joining a 3rd set of linemates in one period and skating with Penner and Williams.

This was the shift of the game, for me, as Penner and Richardson exhibited the kind of versatility that provides an obscured depth for this Kings team; at any moment, any single player can perform any single task at world-class level, to generate a goal and win a game.

Penner, the speedster, chased down an aerial pass, the lofted kind Kopi sends to Brown. Penner won that foot race, and then won the battle for possession and position. First speed, then size, then the passing, all driven by the fast-twitch muscle that is Penner’s brain.

Williams came bustling in, Richardson too, and an amazing quick-exchange series of in-tight passes went from Penner to Williams, to Richardson, back to Williams and into the net. This type of goal is highlight stuff, and also the type that can completely demoralize an opposition team. They had our guys covered, they had their guys in good position, but the Kings just surgically sliced thru their defense with superior skill and quickness.

Quick was outstanding, in glove, legs and positioning. Only a few scary opportunities were generated by the Sharks, and Quick was there in time and in place. The last 6 games qualify as more than a trend now, it can be safely said that Quick is back to playoff form. I would reserve judgment, and qualify that by saying he is not quite back to Conn Smythe form, but then again, only the playoffs provide the intensity needed to make a correct assessment on that level of play. Quick is as ready now as he was last year, and that’s pretty damn good news.

The only real black mark was a Penner giveaway, as I am calling it, when at the Kings blue line with about 2:45 to go, he had possession and time but failed to clear the puck twice in one shift. The game went from a certain 3-1 advantage to a slightly shaky feeling 3-2 score. Then, though, the Kings really looked like last year’s team: pucks were simply taken from the Sharks, entry with possession was denied to the Sharks, and repeated clears of the Kings zone prevented any last minute terror from the potential Sharks comeback.

We can sing their praises: the Kings game is now where it needs to be. Speed with Possession thru center was my aria last article, but it was the Kings chorus this game. The melody of breakout is harmonizing with forecheck, and the Kings composition of attack is fully in tune.

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16 Responses to Teal Shmeal – Bring On The Black And Blue Series – Kings v. Sharks 4-27-2013

  1. USHA#17 says:

    “A Penner giveaway” Yeah…

    Really looked like two teams trying to avoid injury and rest. Felt this game was determined at the face off circles. Quick was good but for the most part it was not what I consider a full speed game.

    I liked Toffoli. That nifty bit at the Blue line leading to the 3rd goal was sweet. His outside wristers rival Carters for speed and snap. Was surprised he didn’t get a rebound when Williams was in front…Neimi is good.

    Through it will come, Toffoli still needs to quicken his reaction time a bit.

    Hey, how about Henrik’s pathetic appearance to maintain his “iron prig” streak? Just another reason to discount much of the great hockey he and Vancouver have given us. Cheats, poor sports and…divers.

    • Player X says:

      Oh my god that freakin’ swede so sold out, what a prideless scumbag. Selfish or what?

      I read somewhere once that for a player to get paid, or count as a game against his contract, etc., he needs to get either two shifts or a penalty or point on the scoresheet. Fuzzy on the recollection there, but still, Henrik at the very least screwed the spirit of the record if not the technical aspects. Even Milbury thought it was bush league!

      As for Toffoli, the kid looks really good for just a few games in, scoring will come but he is also doing a decent job positionally on defense, do you agree? Nothing glaring, even faced the Thornton line a time or two I think. Agree?

      • USHA#17 says:

        Yes, I do. He’s been much better along the half boards and has focused on responsible back checking. Everytime I watch him I see he’s looking over his shoulder now.

        I can’t say I will ever look at Reghr in the same light after reading your insightful critique of his prowess in this morning’s Kings Insider

    • Player X says:

      Power Play- just re-watched it.
      Wow, I never even thought if it that way, very interesting. I was mostly baffled by the mix, partly cuz Richards was missing I guess, but still, Doughty spent the entire two minutes on the one PP we got, first with Muzzin, then with Voynov.

      With Muzzin, Doughty lined up first time at the right point, but it was cleared. Then, Doughty carried it in on the left, but he just stayed there, and Muzzin took the top of an umbrella between Doughty and Kopi, Doughty poised for one-timers at the dot. Both sticks were to the inside, and that was when they did had just the one man (Toffoli) at the net. I don’t think I would have ever put it together like you did. Love that stuff, thanks! What is the thinking behind doing it that way?

      With Voynov, Doughty was exclusively at the left point, until Doughty took the top of the umbrella with Stoll at the left dot for one-timers.

      I guess Doughty can just set up whichever side he chooses? Does that mean Voynov could also, but just chooses not to?

      Both units had the guy in the high slot, but Williams was closer to the net in the double-screen like you noticed. Both units tried some high tips, with another guy screening and everybody collapsing when the puck got to the net.

      So, what do you think is the operating theory? Why would they have two guys at the net when the sticks are to the boards, and one guy when the sticks are to the inside?

      • USHA#17 says:

        I’ll go out on a limb and act like I know what I am talking about. I imagine that generally its these two sets then let things start bouncing and come what may.

        Intent? Two very different looks that alternately either a) keep the boards sealed down low and suckers the D to the strong side or b) seals the board up top and opens the center lanes.

        With two men at the net a center lane tends to open for a defensman “walking the line”.

        The rover draws the high defender to halfboard limbo and the defenseman gets a good 20-25′ of lateral space for a lane to open…basically, just what it looks like, a screen all the way (with a garbage man on station).

        Sticks inside set up a cross ice to the far wing. Then either a steep angle shot or move in to draw the D and hit the streaking defensemen with a return pass…Typically Voyonov down the right or Absent Martinez [doing a LaFleur] down the left. In this case setting up a well aimed shot from the far circle..

        I don’t know how much of this is real but it seems to fit with the power play we’ve seen the past two months.

        Before that LA tried floating passes across the middle (like Detroit and San Jose) but no one had the right touch (Williams wasn’t too bad at it) or the hands to corral those pucks.

        • USHA#17 says:

          Oh, by the way…is it too late to add “if my observations are correct to start with”? Shoot, no DVR at my place.

          Agree. Doughty seems to have a dispensation to rove. Voyonov has a more defined role.

          Hey, Doughty and Voyonov..its like Duchesne and Sydor reincarnated.

        • Player X says:

          Just so you know, the “if my observations are correct” thing is the actual reason for this site. I don’t want people to ever feel they can’t think out loud, or guess, or theorize, ramble, whatever. People don’t have to get it right every time, or have fully flushed out, verified, confirmed ideas here. About the only thing I would ever chastise someone for is if they came here looking for gotcha moments when others are talking. Feel free.

      • Player X says:

        Deep stuff, awesome. Re the floating passes, now we are back to the Slava. We need Voynov on the left, like Doughty and Stoll, the other righties.

        Free the Voynov!!

  2. KC23 says:

    Strong takes as usual. I would add that Clifford, when playing with talent, has been much more effective this year.

    • Player X says:

      Thanks for the kind words, KC…

      Yeah man, Clifford, second stint on a scoring line and again, he does great! Depth thru versatility, guys willing to play any position, I really think it comes from seeing Kopi play the two way game so well, even diving to block shots. Fair to say 20 guys dress, and we get 20 leaders. Meanwhile, we have a Cup winning D tandem (Greene and Martinez) not even playing. DEEEEEEP!

  3. bbb7 says:

    I have always thought Richardson a better choice than Fraser, if only because he DOES understand the offensive side of the game. IF he had a better shot he could probably be a 2nd or 3rd line player, but as a 4th liner he’s pretty much perfect.

    Penner actually played well earlier in the season when Toffoli was first brought up to play on the Richards/Carter line and Penner was dropped to the 4th line. I think a 4th of Penner/Richardson/Nolan could excellent IF Penner puts on his big boy playoff pants and gives 100% every shift. Plus the lesser minutes as a 4th liner will suit him better.

    This means King will sit, which seems to be is LONG overdue. I expect DS to give King a game to prove his worth, but if it’s another game of soft checks, bad hands and ill-advised passes in the neutral zone that should be all she wrote for him.

    • USHA#17 says:

      I don’t think your being overly harsh. King was a big shot in the arm last year. Seems like this year cruelly averaged out his numbers and play…big time. Might be he lost a split second of time to chase or handle pucks due to the defensive personal changes and its showing.

      In any case neither King (or Nolan) has managed to build upon a great rookie season like Clifford, Voynov or Martinez managed to do.

    • Player X says:

      I agree with what you say about King, with just a minor difference. His defensive work is very good over the season, but I agree it is not enough to excuse the lack of offense. He was originally put in as a potential top-6 guy, that now seems like it could never be. 4 goals and 6 assists in 47 games is not enough, in a dramatic dropoff from last year when he had 5 goals and 9 assists in just 27 games. His shots went down, and his shooting percentage went down also, in a year when team scoring is way up. He needs to at least be a threat.

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