The phrase “fair game” can also mean a contest where opponents are treated equally by the rules, and those who implement the rules.
The Kings club, meaning the coaches, management and players are bound by other rules, too, governing the discussion of officiating, and so are unable to say this: the Kings are getting screwed regarding penalties for contact with the goalie. Trevor Lewis deserved a penalty in Game 3; so did Logan Couture last night in Game 6. Lewis was called, Couture was not.
“Goalie Contact” creates a symbiotic relationship. One one side, players try to get in the heads of opposing goalies by running into them, bumping them, distracting them with physical conduct. On the other side, the guys wearing stripes and carrying whistles define the limitations on conduct by calling penalties. Or they don’t.
That’s a direct screen grab of the NHL rulebook. Seems pretty goddamn clear to me, especially the middle paragraph. I just wanted to put it in there because nowhere do I see it say, “Unless you are Jonathan Quick.”
I’m seeing red, but it isn’t in the X Ray:
Some rules are written, as above, and some are just asked for. In the pregame Anthem ceremony, a moment of silence was requested of the San Jose crowd to honor the fallen military. I was appalled and disgusted by the inability for that to be granted, as multiple shouts of “Go Sharks” and “Hey, we’re assholes” forced the P.A. guy to end the attempt after only a few humiliating seconds.
This game was actually a mostly evenly played game, I felt. Both teams had times where they exerted extended possession pressure in the O-zone. Shots on goal totaled within one, ending 26-25 for San Jose. The Kings initiated contact nearly doubling the Sharks total ending 41-22, again in all zones and not just from defending; one shift in the 2nd, with the 4th line out there I saw every single King get a hit.
I thought the Kings had the better 1st period at 5 on 5, and strong Penalty Killing. A freak play by Kopi clearing the puck and a 5 on 3 goal did not scare me at all. The Sharks scored a goal, the Kings hit 4 posts and looked to be on their game, forcing Niemi to make really tough saves.
As well, the Kings Power Play was awesome, from mostly the #1 unit but also the #2 units had zone time and chances. The Kings probably have one of the best percentages of gaining entry on the Power Play in the entire league. We have become spoiled with it, but the Kings almost always get the puck in and get the PP set up.
Shots were mostly even in the 1st at 9-8, but the Kings had taken that over. Thru the last 7 minutes of the 1st the Sharks had zero shots on goal. The Kings were good thru center, and losing most of the faceoffs was being overcome.
Sutter even put Voynov at the Left Point for the Power Play, for the first time all year. The right-side shooting Voynov is the best on the team at one-timers, but he had no opportunity to use the skill as he was on the 2nd unit and that play did not develop. I have been wishing for that all season long, and I hope to see more of it.
The only thing that was a little rough was Voynov’s handling of the puck in his own zone, where he was being stopped from skating and would then hesitate to pass. Still, at the end of the 1st, I was convinced the Kings were gonna win the game.
The 2nd was much like the first except for T.J. Galiardi’s early goal, shot thru the feet of Robyn Regehr at the right faceoff dot. I think you’d like to see Regehr block that shot. After all, what’s so hard about skating backward as fast as the other guy can skate forward, as he darts sideways and stickhandles a few fakes, trying to keep the guy outside but not letting him get by you, and then closing your feet together on the perfect line between the guy’s stick and the net you can’t see cuz you’re facing the other way?
Halfway thru the 2nd period an accidental high stick by Justin Williams gave the Sharks a double-minor. When it was over, the Sharks had one shot and the Kings had the energy. Zone time and pressure for the Kings continued, elevated immediately by the strong Kill. Brown would score just 2:25 later on a carom off the goaltender, having shot from behind the icing line.
Clearly, the Kings were carrying the play, and Niemi was covering a lot of Sharks mistakes. The Sharks committed 14 giveaways, the Kings only 6. After that goal, the Sharks went into lock-down mode, which is to say they wanted to preserve the 1 goal lead. It looked like the Sharks were tightening up, and the Kings should get some good chances to even the score.
Going into the 3rd, the Power Plays were 5 for San Jose, and 2 for the Kings. At 4:14 into the 3rd, the Kings were due, one would think. Then, Couture hit Quick toe-to-heel, sending Quick to the ice. The Kings potent Power Play was ready to go. Shots, chances and posts were certain to follow, and after 4 hit posts had already stayed out, the Kings knew they could beat Niemi to score. Couture was stupid; the puck was nowhere near him as he circled the net and committed the interference penalty. And, the whistle would give the Kings a brief rest. But there was no whistle.
The Sharks would continue to clog the middle, but the Kings did not adjust. A passive forecheck with defenders essentially waiting at center ice should let our guys form up easily in the D-zone and exit with solid possession and some speed. Instead, the Kings were completing passes as the recipient was crossing the blue line into center: the defenders were then too close, and the Kings would struggle to accept the pass.
Most of the 3rd period the Kings made the Sharks layback look good, by passing into pressure instead of the earlier pass and skating the puck across the blue line. As a result, the Sharks finished the game with an advantage in takeaways at 8-3. Most of those came in the 3rd.
The Power Play never came to help the Kings establish some deep possession at least, and the Kings did little to threaten.With a strong faceoff advantage, the Sharks also had no hesitation to simply ice the puck, further stifling the Kings attack.
The Kings proved they can play their winning style on the road, even against the Number 2 home team in the league. Now, both teams have flown back to L.A., where the Sharks will, based on points in the regular season, be the road team that has to face the Number 1 home team in the league.
Game 7′s are to be avoided, because a hot goalie can steal a game and there’s too much at stake to leave it to needing one game, for either everything or nothing. Niemi just had his game 7 performance, however, and he can’t count on posts saving his game twice in a row.
Finally, when I went to look at the definition for “fair game” online in “The Free Dictionary” I saw this:
I have no idea why there is a picture of a Shark in there. Sharks are not persons, they aren’t muggers, and they don’t do manhunts. It’s just one of those weird “context” things that happens to me, a lot. But, I have my own site, so rather than leave you with the image of a helpless fish consumed by a shark, I will leave you with this little gem:
Sharks are fair game, too.