Every game, one player emerges, exerting his will, fully dominating his opponents and claiming the ice as his own. That player is the reigning Knight of the Realm.
The choice is based on which player had the better game at his position. My hope is that the Kings make this decision very difficult every night. After each game, you can take a look at the Player X Ray, and make up your own mind, too. Disagree with my choice? Fire off a comment and tell me why.
Mike Richards is a gamer, and I do not mean he plays on-line using his parent’s internet. This guy was out 3 games with a concussion, his second in a year or so, and scored an assist and a game-tying goal at 10 seconds left in a playoff elimination game. He started with Clifford and Nolan plus special teams, but at the end of regulation Sutter put him out to re-unite Penner/Richards/Carter. He also started the first overtime with the #2 line, but it looked awkward so when I saw him back with the 4th liners I was relieved a bit. Turns out Sutter would be double-shifting Richards with BOTH lines throughout 2 overtime periods. Knowing this guy is in a game means you always have a strong chance to win, at any time under any situation. He will reign until the start of next season, and I am glad of that.
In a losing battle, with the Kings down 4-1, Slava Voynov never gave up. Bryan Bickell checked him into the boards with Bickell’s now-customary wide-stance leg attack to the knees, but even that did not dampen Voynov’s keen competitive instinct: he repaid the hit, albeit cleanly, on Bickell with a solid check at the half-wall just moments later. Voynov played a part in both Kings goals garnering 2 assists, had 4 shots of his own, plus 6 hits and logged only 40 seconds less than Doughty of total ice time. Maybe the Russian word for “beast” is “Voynov.”
“Follow me, guys. Ready? Okay, here we go… Guys? Guys?” Quick cannot win a game alone, but he came close. As always, Quick kept his team in the game on the scoreboard, even if the team was not really in the game on the ice or in their heads. Solid play is a minimum for Playoff Quick, and that was all that was required tonight from him. His team could not muster the intensity to compete or complete, and while the team fell to default defensive posture easily and well, the offensive game never too shape at all. Another good effort by Quick, where 2 goals allowed is well above his usual, was wasted.
Justin Williams, at 31, is the oldest Kings forward. Age does not necessarily define experience, but this guy has experienced 4 Game 7′s in his career. Every one has been a victory for his team, mostly because he has scored at least one goal in each Game 7 he has played. In this game, 1 would not satisfy him, and he actually could have easily had 4 goals. His 5 shots included 4 excellent scoring chances, and topping that was a net-side gritty goal. Surrounded by Sharks, Williams still made room to get enough whacks at the puck to rattle it over the goaltender’s pad. Some lead by example, this man led by exemplary.
Calling on your Captain to turn things around is a luxury when your Captain is this guy. Put him on the 3rd line, and he will go get you 7 hits to lead the game. Next game, he will score your only goal and be the driving force of your best line. Penalty Killing, a back seat on the Power Play working only the #2 unit, this perennial hits and goals leader will do what is asked of him, with purpose and without question. He is the soul of a soulful team, he is the heart of the lion-hearted. One feels he could possibly win a jousting contest without body armor, maybe just once, if that’s what his team needed. Knight for a day, King for life: Dustin Brown.
In just his second game back, from his second stint on Injured Reserve, Matt Greene literally led the charge. Most often, the Knight status is favored upon those who play at even strength and on both specialty teams. Matt Greene exhibited why glory can be achieved without any Power Play time at all. Greene cleared his side of the ice in the defensive zone like a shotgun blast clears a saloon. He also Held The Point, and pinched down past the circles, with amazing effectiveness and timing. What could be a risky play was pure money having Greene back. The Penalty Kill saved the game, preventing the Sharks from stealing it with the man advantage after the Kings dominated play at even strength. Greene was a big part of the game whenever he was on the ice. Welcome to the Round Table sir, I’ll bring you a stein, and the leg of an animal. What would you like for an entree?
The Kings cannot fairly rely on Quick to stop everything, but it’s close. Keeping the Kings within reach for 2 periods allowed the Kings to nearly steal one. If everyone did their job as well as Quick did his, the series would have been over in 4 games. Goalies stop pucks, but they also stop momentum, and give their team a chance to gather themselves. Though the comeback fell short, line changeups were productive and a solid forecheck was re-established. Sometimes the goalie can lose a game, but help win the next one, and by robbing the Sharks repeatedly the Kings had the close chance to win, and therefore the motivation needed to find a new level of play.
A steady barrage kept the Kings under siege, and Quick did his best but to no winning avail. The Sharks were just too good for the Kings this night, but solace for the Royal Ones could well be taken in that Quick’s performance prevented an early runaway. The heartbreaking OT loss had nothing to do with goaltending, and Quick played his position admirably thru some very difficult stretches of play against. The imbalance in play was exceeded by the imbalance in officiating, and Quick finally tired of being run into by Sharks with no calls made. Quick’s misconduct penalty after the game for berating officials properly raised the issue, and made it part of the headline that Quick is not getting equal protection under the law. Quick takes one for the team every shot, and got in a shot or two of his own in this one. Salute.
Grit and hustle define may players’ games, but Lewis added to that tonight. Subbed in for Jarret Stoll, Lewis did his job of checking, and backchecking, quite well. He also found the way to score the Game-Winning goal, off a put-back when Toffoli shot low and far pad, creating a rebound for Lewis to jam in. Capping a win is nice, but this Lewis goal was on a rush, coming off a last-minute goal for the Kings to tie the game. 22 second later, and #22 gave the Kings the lead for good, in a remarkable, and probably series-saving win. Take your seat sir, a feast awaits.
Mike Richards is going to out-think his opponents. Period. Pity the bastard that tries to play the guy straight up, thinking he can handle Richards physically and abandoning the positional, “containment” game. Richards is the catalyst, the active agent, and the reaction often generates red light. Rookie defenseman Matt Irwin of the Sharks was given a lesson, but that is not to say the lesson came without cost. Richards drew Irwin to stop at the point, fruitlessly trying to tie up Richards on a rush. So, Richards simply let himself be neutralized, but left the puck free for Slava Voynov to gather on a rush to glory and the game-winning goal. Suddenly, Irwin was a D-man standing still at the point, checking a guy without the puck, while the puck-carrier was all alone skating into a slap-shot from the base of the faceoff circle. Oopsie poopsie, Mattie man. Richards game only got better from there, with a defensive masterpiece augmented by a lucky goal off his leg. Well done, sir, well done.
Doughty started the scoring, played in all situations, and led his team to victory in a series-clinching game. Once a scapegoat based on his supposedly weak conditioning from eating like a, well, goat, Doughty played over 33 minutes the game before this and still came out dominating the ice when he was on it. Power Play and Penalty Kill, even strength, all 3 zones, Doughty simply would not be beaten. Add to that an amazing goal where he used top-level scoring winger type skills to generate a shot from the inside hashmark after a seemingly innocuous 2 on 2 carry, and you have a right handed defender worthy of his title: Knight Of The Realm.
Witness, the Dotted Red Box that means Overtime Playoff goal. Game 5, tied at 2 games each and tied in overtime at 2 goals each, Slava Voynov answered the call. Just getting an OT GWG does not guarantee you the Knight Of The Realm: Slava’s entire game was excellent. In St. Louis, though, he wasn’t even deemed worthy of getting a star of the game rating, and was left out of those 3 “ornaments.” But, we don’t miss a thing when it comes to proper recognition, and Voynov outplayed #1 star Jeff Carter despite Carter scoring 2 goals. Carter’s goals were good, but Voynov equaled that with his OT score, and as well his overall game was better by far. Big minutes, PP and PK, 3 hits and a Plus 1 complete this complete game.
Game Winning goal, played with two separate lines, 6 shots and even 4 hits. His middle name might have been “clutch” if it wasn’t “big-game.” The call him “stick” on the ice, but it was his stick at waist-height that won the game when he down-batted a Mike Richard’s shot at the St. Louis net. Playing the first shift with a line that was newly created, Williams kept it simple and went to the net when the Kings got possession in the Blues zone. He stayed there, too, and was successful battling for position so that when the shot came in, Williams withstood the jostling to get the tip-in. This is Justin Williams’ series, and as a result, the Kings are now even after starting down 2 games to none.
In a vital game, and after two games in a row where bad goals were game-winners against, Quick rallied to exhibit the mental toughness of the Conn Smythe winner that he is. While I had to point out that he made singular but costly gaffes in the previous 2 games, I am also bound to acknowledge his excellent success in this game, and I am most happy to do just that. Quick made a few saves that were quite similar to the bad goal granted Jackman in game 2, and also managed to correctly manage the puck behind the net in contrast to his giveaway in game 1. Quick also made an amazing re-reaction save, on a loose puck in tight that re-caromed off Scuderi and was bouncing unpredictably like a football across the crease. Quick had committed to a post-to-post slide, but was able to reach back and swat at the puck to keep it out. Leather and legs again showed well, added to tight, early position. If the Kings score 2 in any game, it will almost certainly be more than Quick allows.
For the second game in a row Justin Williams was simply amazing. 8 shots on goal included one individual effort where he beat out one defender to gain the puck crossing the blue line into the Blues zone where both men fell down. Williams continued to control the puck while sliding, and when the second Blues defender arrived Williams stood up and topped the puck past him to the middle of the slot. Williams then outskated that second guy to re-gain the puck, and got off a dangerous backhand that Elliott was fortunate to stop. This play exemplified Justin Williams’ play all night: find a way to win whatever battle you are in, whether for possession, position, or potential scoring. A full effort was rounded out by Pk and Power Play work, and even though the rest of the Kings are struggling 5 on 5, Williams is a very potent 5 on 5 threat.
Whole most of the team was outplayed for most of this game, Justin Williams was not. He had a team-high 5 shots, plus just barely missed the net at least twice on great opportunities. The two he missed were aimed for the high corners, but with just 31 seconds remaining in regulation time Williams would make up for those misses by netting a beautifully disguised and beautifully placed shot, to send the game into overtime. Williams getting no time on the Power Play only adds to the potency of his attack in even-strength play. Williams also killed nearly 2 minutes of penalty time, all the while on a new line playing for the first time together in a road rink, under playoff scrutiny. It was a good Knight, for Williams.
This was an easy decision: Knight Of The Realm for the regular season ends on the very definition of the term. I don’t look for the star: he emerges regardless of role. If the Knight is supposed to be the guy that plays his role the best, no matter whether it is a “high-profile” role or not makes no difference to me. Every cog is needed on the gear. In this game, however, Brad Richardson played the best at 3 different roles, all in one period, by centering the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines. Stopping the size of the Thornton line, or primary assisting the game-winning goal, or shutting down the speed and skill of the Couture line were Richardson’s assignments in the 3rd period of this game. No one guy can win a game, but it may be accurate to say that if one particular guy had not played the Kings might have lost. Such is the case with this brave Knight.
Kyle Clifford scored the only goal for the Kings: it was on a diligent effort of forechecking, winnign a board scrum and making a sweet tip pass to the crease where Lewis had a stuff attempt. Clifford was not satisfied with just the great pass, and continued this brilliant sequence by following his pass to the net. He simply siezed body position and when the puck came free off the Lewis stuff, Clifford had two chances with the second one finding twine. Add in the 3 total shots, and 5 hits in just 14 minutes, and one can make an argument that Clifford should by tried for more than just 14 seconds on the Power Play. Strong board, and net-front positioning sounds a lot like what is needed down low, while the finesses guys dance around looking for lanes to the net for shots. If those shots miss, Clifford has the mettle to go get that puck back. Knighthood is about efficiency, not glory; Clifford can offer both.
Candidates for the Knight Of The Realm in this game were few: the Kings played a soft game, were dominated for the final 50 minutes, and lost to a team that they should have beaten. Richardson’s effort, nonetheless, would have stood out in almost any other game, and he is Knighted for what was sadly a singular effort. With only 11 minutes of ice time, Richardson led his line to effective forechecking, and when placed with Carter for only moments because Carter shifted onto the ice during the end of Richardson’s shift, Richardson found him with an amazing pass after winning a board battle with his quickness. Brad nailed it; not to be tacky, but he is a staple of the checking group and pins the opposition deep.
Carter got the red box, but it was for a deflection off his chest in OT, as he stood at the top of the crease. You don’t get Knight Of The Realm for simply not getting out of the way, though. Carter also provided two assists, and was the catalyst for excellent play by his linemates, and an all-star Power Play unit. Carter also stayed out while his linemates needed a change, and then led rushes with his impromptu linemates, too. One of those rushes forced a penalty, and the ensuing Power Play evened the score in the 3rd period. In OT, Carter had better chances of his own than the one that bounced off him and in. Factor in 2 full minutes of PK, continuing a streak of 16 straight kills, and you see the additional value in this goal-scoring machine.
It is likely no secret that Jarrett Stoll is my favorite player on the Kings. This guy performs any role asked of him, and does it well above average. He isn’t spectacular at anything, except that he is so good at so many different things that he becomes spectacular by his versatility. When the Kings needed a 2nd center, he did it to a statistical top-5-in-the-league standing. When Kopitar got hurt and the Kings needed a number one center to replace Kopitar, Stoll led the Kings to nearly defeating the heavily favored San Jose Sharks in the playoffs. He’s also gone 9 for 10 in shootout attempts in one season, while placing top 5 in faceoff percentage. In this game, Stoll did what Stoll does best; everything.
To say that Dustin Brown came out in beast mode this game would only be a way to under-sell his effort every night. Captain, take us home, and he played his heart out to do so. 7 shots, 8 hits, and strong overtime play made this guy the best King. Only a lights-out performance from the Sharks goalie Antti Miemi made this a shootout game, and surprisingly Brown was not allowed to be a part of the first three shooters. This guy is hitting his stride, and he is also hitting everything that moves not dressed as a King. The Realm bows to your greatness, Ithacan.
As with his Captain before him on 4/11, Trevor Lewis becomes Knight based only partly on the visible Stats. Those Stats cannot show the poise and skill, the attack mentality, and the courage required when Lewis repeatedly skated the puck out of trouble, skated the puck into the Ducks zone, and skated the puck directly to the crease for chances that caused rebounds that caused a goal. The operative word here is skated, and he did, with an extra gear over the other players in this game. He also set up the Kings first goal with a primary assists, which came after a brilliant end-to-end rush, a stuff attempt, and then a perfect pass to Doughty for a one-timer from the blue line. Lewis was everywhere, until the Ducks tried to land a solid hit: then he was nowhere. I give you Sir Trevor.
Other players had more goals, other players had more assists. Dusting Brown earned Knight Of The Realm for his all-around play, and by that I mean he was all around the rink imposing his will. 8 hits is the best place to start, then add the shootout Game Winning Goal, sprinkle in 1:32 of PK and you begin to why the stats support this nomination. What the stats do not show you is the timing and leadership those hits and the other stats provided his team. This game nearly got away from the Kings after a strong start, and Brown led the way in reducing the damage and then turning the game back around until the shootout victory was fair, and seemingly inevitable.
So, naming a goalie with this stat line might seem stupid, but Quick was actually very good this game. It isn’t even a case of Quick being the least bad as if everyone was awful. Quick was good overall, and he was great in the first two periods. Only because of him did the game start the 3rd period at 1-1. Quick stopped close shots from open guys, shielded against net-mouth scrambles, and did everything he could do to give the Kings a chance to win. He made amazing saves with the blocker, glove, toes, and even his puckhandling was good. It’s a team game, and Quick gets the loss, but not the proper credit for holding his team in on a very, very off night for everybody except #32.
As Captain’s should Dustin Brown led his team again. A massive stat-line shows over 20 minutes played, with only 3:30 of special teams time. 5 on 5 against the Ducks produced excellent results, and game-total play was outstanding. A goal, an assist, 5 hits, this was a complete game from a complete player, and he inspired his teammates even before scoring the clutch goal with 3 minutes to go in the game, making the score tied and earning his team a vital point in the standings. Hail, Sir Brown.
Jeff Carter has now scored as many goals in 38 games as he did in 55 games last season; 22. That’s good for 3rd place in the league, but he leads the league in game-winners. Today’s effort included an assist, as well, but if you can believe it, the reason he is Knight of the Realm is for his Defense. All day long, he neutralized the opponents, and saved a definite grade-A chance from ever happening with a 100 foot-sprint to come from behind and overtake the puck-carrier, thwarting a developing 2 on 1 against. Instead of the chance, Carter simply stripped the puck and then also cleared the zone, deflating the entire rush. Add in a minute on the PK against the 3rd best PP unit, and you have a goal-scoring two-way player that spends energy on the play required, not just on adding points to his personal total.
Justin Williams extended his reign as Knight to a third game: he also extended his goal-a-game streak to a career-best 5 in a row. This time, he scored two, presumably cuz he just felt like it. Whistling in shots from face-off dots is good, but beating goaltenders from there requires unusually good shots, and Williams second goal doinked the elbow of pipe, letting the goalie know audibly that a sudden red glow would soon overtake him. Williams wheeled, spun and faked himself into open ice all game long, and defenders were left with nothing but air. 3 in a row as Knight: we should call that a “Helmet Trick.”
Justin Williams has burst into the realm of Knighthood with great style and flair, having now been anointed twice in a row. His play has never been bad all season, and he’s been a vital link in the Kings best line all year, an equal part among greats, alongside Kopitar and Brown. In this game, Williams was the only King to record a point, scoring an unassisted goal to extend his goal-scoring streak to 4 games. Williams showed that he can take a hit and still make plays against Dallas last game, and in this game his elusiveness was on full display. Spending energy on the PK, Williams also button-hooked the opposition on offense, knitting them into knots and tangles as he rushed, passed and shot to lead his line and team.
It was gonna take a very strong effort to unseat Dustin Brown from his run of 4 consecutive Knights, and this time, instead of Brown delivering, it was Justin Williams. Game-winning goals alone do not qualify one for service: the demands from his team are higher than that. In the second of a back-to-back, plus the early game-start of 3 p.m., Williams was quick on the puck, and stayed out as the last man on his line to change, extending multiple shifts to allow his mates to get to the bench while he rallied forth. Williams registered zero hits, but that stat does not show the hits a player absorbs, only those he delivers. Williams took tough hits two games in a row, bouncing back, and scored the game-winner as well, extending his goal-scoring streak to 3 games. Bow knave, Sir Justin it is.
Okay, this is amazing. 4th Knighting in a row, and it is indisputably deserved. Even consideration as Knight for the 4th time will bring enhanced scrutiny; look as hard as I might, it is simply a statistical fact that Dustin Brown, again, still, played the best game at his position of anyone on the team. In a game where the Kings all played well except the 4th line, Brown stood out. He opened the scoring, led the team in hits, and logged some tough minutes on the Penalty Kill. He leads by example, and multiple examples at that. The template is set, it wears #23.
With his third consecutive designation as Knight Of The Realm, Dustin Brown enters new territory as the only player to have ever done so. I looked at every player, but again, Captain B will not be denied. Look at that stat line; this guy does it all, does it well, and then does it again. The zero hits is likely more due to being in an opposition building, as I can remember two solid “contact” instances, but no credit for a hit was given. Even so, what used to be his best attribute of hitting is not even needed for Dustin Brown to be far and away the Knight in this game.
I want Brown on that wall, I need Brown on that wall. When an errant stick caught Brown, and when I say errant I mean intentional but supposedly unnoticed by any zebras, I said out loud, “That is not the guy Chicago wants to make angry.” I give you: The Red Box. Game-winning goal, 5 shots, 6 hits credited in an opponent’s building, and a team-leading plus 2 make this a Knight to remember. Plus, he led his team thru Chicago, dropping their record to 25-4-3, then he led his team to the White House the next day to meet the President. It’s good for Brown to be a King, and he is Knighted now two games in a row.
I’ve seen better games from a player, and in this one maybe every Canuck had a better game than half our guys, but at least Dustin Brown played well. Sadly, playing well does not win games, and if the Knight Of The Realm were not an obligatory award for each game, there might not be one for this game. Brown hit, he shot, but the team did not generate scoring threats. Even chances didn’t really seem to be very threatening. No loose-puck scrambles, no rebounds, no flurries, no real buzzing.
The Kings lost this game 2 to 0, but the loss had nothing to do with goaltending. Rather, Quick made at least two complete robberies with the glove to hold the score at zero until a lucky bounce caromed in off Doughty’s perfectly defensively positioned skate. Quick had no chance on either goal, and despite his team out-shooting Dallas 41-20 the game was played with quality goaltending at both ends, with the only difference being a bad bounce on Quick’s end. Quick’s resurgence continued in this game, now adding the lightning left hand to his puck-stopping arsenal.
Drew Doughty dogged the dogs, doggedly digging and daringly dodging, dynamically doing devastating damage and delivering distress by devious deeds due the dastardly desert denizens. The first goal of the season coming in the 29th game is nothing to brag about, but Doughty can brag about the quality of his total performance against Phoenix on this night. Hits, shots, scoring, Penalty Killing and effective PP QB work made this a night to remember, and replicate, for Sir Drew.
I would guess that if you asked him, Jonathan Quick would tell you that it was just another game, his teammates did the hard part, he felt good, and just did his job of stopping the puck. But, if you knew what he was thinking, his thoughts would probably include some relief, and some resolve that this is the way he expects himself to perform every night. Quick was early to position, and while he does not rely on early position as much as Bernier, when Quick is not late to position he is able to contain his scramble, and not slide past the play making a first save but being out of position for the second save. A couple of glove-lunges and a toenail kickout highlighted this excellent effort from our returning Champion, Sir Jonathan of Q.
Logging only 10:03 in ice time, Kyle Clifford still scored two goals and fought Douglas Murray, whose full name should be Human Brick Pallet Murray. Clifford opened the scoring early in the 1st period, and his 2nd goal put the Kings at 4-1 ahead. The 3-goal lead gave the Kings a sigh of relief and stole the oxygen from the Sharks. Hitting as well as effective containment, carrying the puck and effective extended possession, strength and savvy in the corners at both ends, and now scoring goals add up to Kyle Clifford’s year looking like a coming out party for the next Scott Hartnell, except our guy has less hair and more brains. A great night, great Knight.
Brown stood out from his line, and his line stood out in the game. A n awful performance by Jonathan Quick and another by Drew Doughty should not diminish the effort and success of Brown in recent games. His second two-goal game in the last three, totaling 5 goals in 3 games, Brown was fast, dangerous, and effective. Kopitar and Williams fed off his energy, and those three came to play against a Shark team that has dominated the Kings in the Sharks barn recently, and tonight was no exception. If All 4 lines had performed their roles equally well, this would have been a blowout for the Kings.
Penner was on his game, and on the puck, all night. He was brutal in the corners, keeping possession, forechecking to disrupt flow, and often stripped pucks from the Defensemen he had cornered. Speed thru the neutral zone is not often mentioned for Penner, but this game he was all over the ice and showed a determined and successful effort, leading his linemates. The usual quick passes were not lost, so it was an all-around game for the big man. An impressive effort, using fitness and desire to show everyone how he can play his game.
I don’t know which is more odd, the method used to credit players with hits or the method used to name the 3 stars of the game. What I do know is that Dustin Brown is my Knight Of The Realm for this game, even though he was not named as ANY of the 3 stars. He opened the scoring, he closed the scoring, he hit, he killed penalties, and his first goal was on the Power Play where admittedly, Slava Voynov made him look good with a perfect diagonal seam pass from the faceoff dot to Brown at the far post. As a Captain should, he quietly led his team to a victory, and the fact that he was overlooked as a credited star of the game probably means nothing to this hero. It was a good night, for this good Knight. Good night.
Slava Voynov cemented his status as the Kings #1 Defenseman in this masterful game against Calgary. His 3 assists were all based on his ability to get the puck through to the net. The first assist was a cross-ice pass on the Power Play, and it was a thing of beauty. From the right faceoff dot, Slava spotted Brown at the far post, and threaded an amazing diagonal pass thru the Calgary box to Brown. Voynov’s head-up, fake shot and pass so confused the Flame PK that Brown was able to easily pass the puck back through the crease to Jeff Carter, whose stick was also open, for the tap-in. Voynov was dangerous all night, and solid in his own zone, and stands alone as the Realm’s Knight.
When I said I wanted naming this honor to be a tough choice, I had hoped that choice would be from among many notable performances in a big win for the Kings. This game was a loss to much-hated Dallas, and the choice for Knight Of The Realm came down to two players, Dustin Brown and Dustin Penner. Both played the big man’s game, with hits, puck domination and shots on goal. Between the two, Dustin Brown also killed off penalties and was more dominant offensively by creating dangerous chances after stickhandling through layers of defenders to take shots from 10 feet in the center of the slot. Rebounds went to the Dallas players, but Brown created the opportunities that usually result in goals, just not for this Knight.
Jake Muzzin was selected as the 1st star of this game, and I have to agree. His goals gave the Kings life when they were need the most; his first goal tied the game at 1, his second goal tied the game at 4. The Kings battled back from 4-1 down to win it 6-4, and Muzzin was a large part of that effort by his own goal scoring and an assist on the game winner by Jeff Carter. Muzzin was very effective physically in a game that the Blues wanted to be a bruise-fest, and it was. The Blues strategy back-fired though, because out guys, led by this rookie, were able to play a crunch game but not lose system and not lose composure. Muzzin, hit, he scored, he assissted: Muzzin is the Knight.
The was the best game by any player yet this year, at any position. Carter Dominated the ice, even though his minutes were restricted to save him in the first of back-to-back nights. A heavy, usually stifling Nashville team came in, ready to do their usual battle to stay awake and/or surpass 10 shots on goal apiece, yet Carter decided that scoring goals was more fun than letting a bunch of Predators trap-clog up the neutral zone. This game put Carter into a tie for 2nd place league-wide for Goals Scored, behind only Steven Stamkos. 10 goals in 10 games is an amazing pace, but Carter is currently operating at that pace. In a full season, the Kings might have had a 50-goal scorer, as Carter shows no sign of slowing down.
Jordan Nolan earns Knight Of The Realm in this very frustrating game. With only 8 minutes on the ice, Nolan found the time to score a backhand wraparound off a giveaway from the Canucks behind the net before goalie Cory Schneider could scramble back to his crease. The goal came after Nolan’s very “game” fight against tough guy Tom Sestito, newly imported from Philly in his first Canuck game. Nolan took some early shots, turned the fight around and got in a bunch of his own punches until both men were helmetless, then Sestito took it to the ground. Nolan sported a severe cut on the bridge of his nose, yet was still able to turn his fists back into good hands on a sweet score.
In a battle between two of the best two-way centers in the league, Kopitar bested Pavel Datsyuk. Physical superiority by Kopitar was evident on both sides of the puck, as he hit effectively and neutralized those trying to hit him. Kopitar scored the game-winner; Datsyuk took a face-off penalty, while already on a penalty kill when his hand-pass was whistled giving the Kings a two-man advantage. Carter scored on that one, and then Datsyuk watched from the bench as Kopi won a faceoff, cycled low, helped win a physical battle for the puck on the boards and then beat his man off the boards to be wide open alone in front. Kopitar netted the decisive goal in a beautiful move by deke-ing Jimmy Howard out of his pads, then extending back against the flow to his full reach and potting the puck past Howard’s skate.
First star of the game was Kopitar, but my Knight Of the Realm is Dustin Brown. Kopi had 3 assists, but only one shot on goal. His assist to Voynov was an obvious read to an open shooter at the top of the circle; the real talent on that goal was Voynov’s ability to one-time a puck. Kopi’s assist on Brown’s goal was a 5 foot pass at center ice after the Ducks had effectively stifled another rush; Brown made the goal, Kopi was on the ice. Brown took the Ducks defensive pair apart at 17:53 in essentially a 1 on 2. Brown beat Allen crossing the blue line, then facing Cam Fowler Brown shot wrong-footed, stretching his stick around the defender’s feet to get it to net. With 4 hits, 4 shots, and the goal that single-handedly gave the entire team life when they needed it the most, Brown turned the momentum and the game for the Kings.
Kopitar showed his skill in the offensive zone by making passes to set up his teammates, and the lone assist does not indicate the numerous chances his line enjoyed. Forechecking to win the puck, generating shots to a dropping high forward for rapier-like one-timers, Kopitar alone could have easily generated 3 goals for Brown and Williams with puck control and passing. Late in the 2nd period, Kopitar got the payoff on a similar pass from Penner when Kopi took it on the backhand, converted to forehand then rang a snap shot off the post from in close. 2 hits and a plus-2 complete this story, and Kopi gets Knighted.
Normally unsung as a hero, Scuderi has had some tough games this year but not tonight. Totaling 26:27 with 5:14 of brutal Penalty Kill minutes is rough enough, but this game was at 3400 feet elevation in the second of a back-to-back. Scuderi really gutted out an excellent game, deflecting passes and shots with the usual excellent stick, but also controlling bodies in the corners and slot. Adding to his defensive work, Scuderi got 2 assists this game for only his 5th multi-point game in his long career. A plus-2 is a deserved reward, in a well-earned game playing as Knight Of The Realm.
Trevor Lewis made the most of his ice time this game. Under 12 minutes total, with 1:31 tough minutes on the Penalty Kill, and still Lewis generated 2 assists and had multiple chances to score on his own. He played so well that Coach Sutter played a hunch putting Lewis out there with Richards and Carter with a only a minute left in a 1-1 game. Lewis responded with a poised entry into the attacking zone, let his linemates establish position with a center drive, and then Lewis sent a hard pass/shot toward the net and Carter got a stick on it to tip it on for the game-winner. 4 hits, a plus 3, Lewis played a total game without getting any Power Play time. Salute.
What a game by Richards, the lone standout in an otherwise dismal performance by his team. 2 Power Play goals is the stat that jumps out first, but putting the goals aside Richards had over 2 minutes of Penalty Kill time, 4 shots and 3 hits; this was the complete game that if copied by just 2 other Kings would lead to victory. At 5 on 5, Richards played center with a total of at least 5 other wingers at various times, including Clifford, King, Nolan, Carter and Penner. No matter with which of his patchworked line combinations, he was consistently the best player on the ice.
Clifford once again forced his way into the conversation. Kyle Clifford started with Carter and Williams, but was replaced by Penner and “dropped” to playing his traditional role with Stoll and Lewis. Clifford’s play had not dropped off, the move was more due to Penner’s gaining favor, plus Sutter thinking the line needed more puck control than speed against a clog-it-all-up Blue Jacket team. Clifford responded with an unassisted goal to open the game’s scoring. Moving back and forth between two lines all night, The Big Red Dog was very effective in both roles.
Stellar game from Jeff Carter. Lots of jump and speed, 2 nifty backhands in close, after drawing the goalie (Brian Elliott) across the crease and forcing him to open the 5 hole. Carter was dangerous all night, scored the game-winner, and was part of a line that was very, very quick on the puck; Clifford, Carter and Williams. Honorable mention to Slava Voynov, but it has to be Carter.
In this game, our Captain came out and established himself as ready to play, and ready to win. Early chances did not go in, but he was a threat and a force, valiant in a comeback from 2 goals down early, and battling all game. He led the Kings to tie it up in the last minute. The Red Wings won it in the last 5 seconds of regulation, but Dustin Brown was not the reason we lost, and his inspiration led the team early and late.
Justin Williams earns the honor for this game. You might think it should go to somebody that scored a goal, especially if I don’t ordain a defenseman. Well, I wish I had that option: we got shutout. At least Williams used his ice time to get a bunch of shots, but as every bar-goer knows just doing shots will not necessary get you to the goal. I am hoping that Williams eventually develops a knack for throwing nudges even if he gets penalized for having caused mild chafing; he may have zero hits so far this season.
Easy choice, the way I like it. Mike Richards had a Gordie Howe hat trick, which is tough when you consider that the fight came with an instigator and the mandatory misconduct, reducing Richards’ ice time to just under 11 minutes. Even with 4th line total minutes, Richards hit, he shot, he scored and he fought; great game, and his first goal of the season. True to usual form, Richards’ fight was in response to a boarding hit on Rob Scuderi by Brandon Dubinsky. Richards alone buttoned up the Jackets.
For this humiliating loss (7-4) Jarrett Stoll was not the best player on the ice, but he was the best King. A nice fall-away one-timer from the dot, over 2 minutes on the PK and 7 hits, at least he was game when many of his teammates were much less so. Brown had a decent game with 2 goals and 6 shots on goal, but had only 1 hit and ended up a minus 1. Brown also got 4 1/2 more minutes of ice time including 4:25 of Power Play time to Stoll’s :52. Stoll did much more with his minutes and was responsible defensively at even strength, so in a close one Knight Of The Realm goes to Stoll.
Brownie delivered like a UPS truck on Christmas eve in this game. Every one of his 5 hits was thunderous. As well, a goal in regulation and a goal in the shootout elevated the team and set Brown’s performance apart from his teammates. The highlight of the Kings’ game was Dustin Brown’s power play goal, in the first period on a 4 on 3, when a wild shot bounced off the glass, came down in the crease and Brown found it first. Otherwise, the game was a total yawner; the Kings have to bear some of the responsibility for being unable to break through the Predators mostly talent-less style of play. If given their way, a Predator game might be played on shag carpeting.
The Kings’ best game so far this very young season saw Jeff Carter exhibit the skills of a 40-goal-scoring wing. A goal in regulation and a goal in overtime sealed the win for the Kings, after having overcome a 2-goal deficit against the Canucks. The Kings dominated play for the first 35 minutes, bit were still down 2 to zip. Then, Carter got the first PP goal of the season for the entire team (0-25 until then), and the team was alive. A goal in the last minute for the Kings, then a wild OT ended with no goals scored. Carter went third in the shootout with a chance to win it, and he did when Vancouver’s Zack Kassian was stopped by Quick.
If Jake Muzzin played every game this well, people would start calling Tyler Myers of Buffalo the next Jake Muzzin. Monster game, in only 11:57 of ice time; the first goal of his career, an assist and he ended up a plus 4, Muzz was in beast mode. To think that talent like this struggles to get into the lineup must mean consistency issues, and that is the rap on him, but the actual potential exhibited tonight will have to keep him high on list for ice time, and if he gets sent down again, at the top of the list as the next call-up.
When I say I hope the Kings make it difficult to choose the Knight Of The Realm for each game, I did not mean I hoped there wouldn’t be anyone fully worthy of the title, obviously I was hoping lots of guys would show up and step up. Maybe it’s unfair to say that about this one, because the game was dominated by the third team on the ice, the referees. Still, the Kings had a full two minutes at 5 0n 3 in the first period and got nada el goal-os. Carter’s stats look good for the game, and his goal came from a takeaway and great pass, both from Clifford but these two guys could not carry the team and when the Oilers tied the game with under 5 seconds left, it became easily anticipated that the Kings would lose in overtime. Carter was good; Knights are supposed to be great. Even though he was best, he could have been better.
In 9:30 of ice time with almost no power play time, Clifford produced a goal, 3 shots and 2 hits to finish at a plus 1. A disappointing game finished with the Kings blowing the streak of zero regulation losses after going 86-0-9 when leading after two periods. It really hurts in a way but now, what, we “limp” along at 86-1-9? This team knows how to defend a lead, one just finally got away from them. Overall, it was a good 52 minutes. Hopefully, the next Knight of the Realm choice will be a bit more difficult, being chosen from among more than just three candidates, Clifford, Carter and Quick.
Opening night and Kyle Clifford came out hustling, and he never stopped. His fitness level showed through, and he exhibited hand-skill that surprised everyone. In just 8:52 of ice time, and none of it on the Power Play, Clifford rendered 2 assists and 7 hits. Kids a gamer, and deserves the inaugural designation as this otherwise awful game’s Knight Of The Realm.