Kings Down Two, This: – Kings v. Blues 5-2-2013

“Seconds” are wild: On the 2nd of May, Quick played his second sour note, making the Blues second goal of the game the game-winner a second time in a row, and also for the second game in a row a goal was scored in the final seconds of the 3rd period, which put the Kings down their second game in the series. This loss would become the Kings only second loss in regulation out of the last 117 games when they held the lead after the second period. Maybe I shouldn’t have listed seconds first…

In those 117 games the Kings were 104-1-12 when leading after 2 periods. The only regulation loss was January 22, this year against the Avalanche. But not anymore.

Sometimes, numbers don’t mean a damn thing. Sometimes history doesn’t mean a damn thing. Sometimes, the only thing that matters is one single moment in a game, which becomes THE moment, because the game hinges on that moment.

Even though such a single moment in a game can appear in stark contrast to the totality of a performance, the game, a player’s performance and ultimately a team’s fate will be defined by that incongruous, crucial, spotlighted moment. It may not be fair and it may not even be accurate, but not all moments are created equal. Judgment must be made.

The moment, of course, is the Blues goal that put them ahead 2-1 with 51 seconds left in the 3rd period.

Johnny Smythe cannot let that moment happen. He cannot let that goal go in. It is a bad goal, at a very bad time. The game did indeed hinge on that moment; most of the game, Quick was steady, and even brilliant at times. But make no mistake; this was a mistake…

5-2-2013-St Louis Game 2c

Some will say Quick was screened. If he was screened at all, it was during the limited “windup:” the release was not screened and there was no traffic. Besides, the first duty of a goaltender is not to stop the puck: it is to follow the puck.

I believe this screen grab shows there was no screen. Further, even if there was any partial screen at all, there should not have been; Quick moved into this position following the pass to Jackman, and could easily have moved his head to look around Doughty, if he needed to, to follow that puck.

I have marked Quick’s sight-line, to the exact spot where the puck is leaving Jackman’s stick. It should also be noted that Doughty had already crossed the sight line and was continuing to move toward the boards, expressly so as NOT to screen his goalie.

SAMSUNG

Quick was facing a 3 on 2, but it was only a partial 3 on 2 that was well-defended with back-pressure and limited options for the Blues 3rd man. That 3rd man was Barrett Jackman. Quick was facing a defenseman, who had no lateral options, who had zero previous playoff goals in 23 playoff games, whose shot from above the circles could only be a wrist shot.

When I say wrist shot, you should not be equating the shot of Jeff Carter: you should be equating the shot of Matt Greene. Jackman had “exploded” for a maximum of 4 goals for an entire season just twice in his career.

To be brutally curt: in the last minute of a tied playoff game, a D-man with only 23 career goals and zero previous career playoff goals shot a strong wrister at glove height from above the circles and our guy WHIFFED.

Sadly, there is no red box in this X Ray:

5-2-2013-St Louis Game 2a

Line combinations were kept almost entirely intact, with only specialized exceptions. Following extended Power Play time including the 5 on 3 that yielded the Kings goal, King was inserted onto the Fraser line with Nolan. Otherwise, Williams was added for offensive punch, to the Stoll line for an O-zone draw during the last shift of the 2nd period,  and to the Fraser line following a TV timeout in the last few minutes of the 3rd period.

In keeping with “specialty” personnel changes as he did with Williams, Coach Sutter mixes defense pairs sometimes for O-zone draws, such as putting Muzzin in for Regehr, paired with Doughty.

When he gets an O-zone draw, Sutter leans towards an offensive set. At other times, Sutter shades the set of players towards a more defensive posture. The best example of this is putting the Fraser line out there, intact, for the last 30 seconds or so of Power Plays.

Notice on the X Ray that Clifford, Fraser and even Nolan had 51 seconds on the PP: if there is a faceoff at about 30 seconds to go on the Kings Power Play, even if it is in the Offensive zone, Sutter puts the 4th line out to make certain that the Kings will not be caught with a tired, offensively oriented line combination for that crucial first shift after a special teams sequence.

I thought most of the lines played well most of the game. Williams was again the best skater for the Kings, plus Kopitar and Brown also played very good games. Brown’s PP goal at 5 on 3 was a beautiful tip, and his hitting was ferocious, clearly under-counted at just 4 credited hits. Stoll was personally responsible for saving 2 goals against, and his line was steady all night as Penner looked good again, consistently through the full game whether with Stoll or on the second Power Play unit.

A silly penalty by Nolan marred an otherwise good game, and one shift in particular showed Nolan taking over with Williams-like possession on a Blues-zone cycle, eating time and also leading to a good scoring chance. Nolan needs to be consistent with puck-handling, but he did a much better job of absorbing contact without being knocked off the play. I felt Richardson was missed, and although Fraser has more effective “size” and played a decent game, there were times when his defensive work in the Kings zone terrified me.

The defense played much better: Muzzin and Ellerby moved the puck better, and seem to have raised their awareness levels to instill confidence in them going forward. I thought that Scuderi and Voynov struggled in their zone, no doubt due to the tough matchups and let’s face it: the Blues are playing a very, very strong game.

The Kings found their winning game after being soundly outplayed in Game 1. This tilt was fairly even, with periods of momentum but not dominance from either team. Once again, however, a very good effort, and a very good opportunity, was wasted when a very stoppable shot was not stopped.

Down two, it comes down to this: Game 3 is a must win, and the goalie has been shaky, if only for moments, in the first two games. Per the Sutter Rules of Order, I might not make the motion to play Bernier, but if the Motion were made, I would be the first to second it.

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8 Responses to Kings Down Two, This: – Kings v. Blues 5-2-2013

  1. Crown Royal says:

    Usually agree with your write-ups, Player X but not so much with this one. I thought Kopi was missing in action again. Muzzin was shaky with the puck several times and on the first goal poor communication between Muzzin and Ellerby as the latter was late getting to the net to help cover gave the Blues inside postiton.

    On the GWG, Stoll tried for a steal in the offensive zone and missed completly. He ended up on the wrong side of the puck on the Blues counter which forced the Kings D-men (Muzzin and DD) to back in instead of standing up at the blue line to stop the rush. Yes, partial coverage by a back checking Kings winger but still too much open ice gave the Blues a good scoring chance. JQ missed it, no doubt, but I thought he played very well for the most part.

    JW and DB were the Kings best forwards and JC did what he could though it seemed MR was out of sync with his linemates all night. King was useless again and Lewis was so-so. Stoll was good defensively except for his terrible gaffe at the end. Nolan was a bit better except for the really stupid penalty and Fraser provided a bit more size out there which helped some. DP was O.K. and Clifford worked hard as usual.

    Kopitar looks intimidated by Backes who has shut him down totally so far and maybe DS can hopefully get Kopi away from him in L.A. where he has the last change. The Kings cannot win the Cup without better play from Kopi period. If Greene is healthy enough he and AM should go back in for Muzzin who has been terrible and Ellerby who has played better than Jake but has struggled at times.

    It looks to me as though major changes are needed next season in the third and fourth lines and tough decisions need to be made about the defense. Still hoping the Kings can come back but not overly optimistic….too many problems with the current roster and level of play of Kopi. He was really good in the playoffs last year. What happened? Injured?

    • Player X says:

      We fully disagree about Kopi, I feel he is playing through a tough matchup against some very good defensemen. There were flashes of dominance, a few shifts with extended possession against the Blues in their end, but I think this game was simply a damn near evenly played matchup. You can find moments of failure, but also moments of success for every player. It was just a close game, like I said both teams had times of momentum but no real dominance.
      As for Stoll, he was the second guy on the high forecheck. King was behind the Blues net, Stoll’s “try for a steal” occurred at the half-wall. Lewis was the 3rd forward, and he went for a big hit but let the puck get through. Facing a 4 on 3, Lewis should not make that hit, and it was Stoll that actually covered Lewis’ mistake. 4 on 3 can be delayed, but a 3 on 2 means open ice.

      • Crown Royal says:

        Yes, Kopi had some moments when the Kings were cycling in the O zone but no scoring chances by Kopi, getting killed on faceoffs both games and facing Backes and top D pairings nothing new for him when playing the Blues. I’m not a big JW fan (even though I believe him to be the Kings smartest player) but he went against the same D-men last night as Kopi and was outstanding!

        Yes, Stoll’s steal attempt was on the half wall but why try for a steal with a Kings winger behind the net instead of in scoring postition which would automatically create an O zone two on one? He never got back totally in the play. I respect your opinion, Player X, but I suppose we must agree to disagree in this instance.

  2. Mik3ysfv says:

    Just…..shooot….Kopi.
    We will get them tonight, ‘X. And in an extremely dominant fashion. Game winning red box goes to…………Slava.
    Thank you for your kind words as well, ‘X. I turned down a date with my girl tonight, the porch light goes off at game time, and I’ll hide the phone from myself so I’m tempted to neither text nor answer. This is our game and we’re going to take it with passion. St. LOSE Will not know what the hell hit them. Have a great time tonight, X.

    • Player X says:

      Man I hope you’re right. I would love to see Slava belt one in from the left dot on a power play one-timer.
      Good luck to you, enjoy! maybe call the girlfriend after the game and ask her over then for a celebration…

      • Mik3ysfv says:

        I really should have gone to Vegas!!!!!! I called the red box!!!!!!!!

        • Player X says:

          I am very impressed! All Hail the Mik, Bow To His Majesty!!

          Tough for your girlfriend, she can never again get a date on a game night this year.

          Wowowowowow, Awesome call. You da man.

        • Player X says:

          Shutting down now, up early to type so… congrats, awesome call.

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