That last game sucked. Nevermind that the Kings made it to overtime before eventually succombing to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. A great post by Scott over at The Copper & Blue highlights just how badly the Kings were outplayed, or more importantly, who was outplayed. The Kings' top line of Ryan Smyth, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams was taken to the woodshed by the Sedins and Burrows, while the top defensive pairing of Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty were capable enough defensively but couldn't manage any sort of offensive attack. Basically, the Canucks' best players were better than our best players. That can't happen, at least not to Drew Doughty. Kopitar I can understand, because Justin Williams kind of killed that line all night, but Doughty needs to pllay a lot smarter than he played last game. He was playing like Jack Johnson, that's what I noticed. That's not good.
Speaking of Jack Johnson... Randy "King Leer" Jones sure sucks, huh? Terry Murray seemed determined not to match lines in that first game, instead rolling his defensive pairings and giving Alain Vigneault whatever he wanted. The result was the abuse of the Johnson-Jones pairing whenever they were on the ice. That needs to change. Scuderi-Doughty needs to skate with the Sedins and if they need a break it needs to be O'Donnell-Greene because at least that pairing can overpower the Sedins physically. Let Johnson-Jones skate against the third line and maybe the Kesler line but that's it.
Meanwhile, the Kings' 3rd line was pretty terrible. Wayne Simmonds was the 2nd worst forward on the ice behind Raitis Ivanans and ahead of only Justin WIlliams. The right winger in Murray's system is usually the one in charge of chipping the puck in deep and keeping it there; the right wingers for the 1st and 3rd lines couldn't get that done. The 2nd line right winger (Dustin Brown) could and hey, that line did pretty well. Funny how that works.
The positives? Despite a faulty game plan and being outplayed pretty badly, the Kings didn't lose by much. Hell, they would have stolen the game if Roberto Luongo hadn't made the save of the playoffs so far. Jonathan Quick put a lot of doubts to rest with his play and the Kings have to be feeling much more comfortable in this series. As we saw last night, it only takes a few minutes to completely change the scope of a series. The Kings only need to win one in Vancouver and then hold serve at home. Let's hope they do it tonight.
You follow a team so closely and you kind of forget that there are people out there who don't care. I'm out of town this weekend to help send off a friend who's moving away, but before I agreed to go I made them promise that I could watch the game. I'm not going to lie, I kinda sorta threw a hissy fit. I may have stamped my feet. OK, I might have held my breath until they agreed. Anyway, we're going to a hotel and all I did was call the hotel to make sure they had Versus. Simple enough, right? Then when they didn't have it, I called the 5 restaurants around it and found 1 that had Versus, then got the manager's name so I could make sure 1 TV had the game. Apparently that makes me crazy. Hey, all I'm saying is that I care more about a hockey game than a friend I've known since I was 9, is that so wrong?
Prediction: Kings win, 3-2. Goals by Kopitar, Simmonds and Richardson. Vancouver fans continue their gradual transformations into Montreal fans.