Dancing in the Reign: Right-Side Defense And Oscar – Game 2 Outlook
I really like that picture to the right, a lot. Is it because of the intensity of the shot? Nah. The black and white effect? Nah. Because Kevin Westgarth‘s face is blacked out? Yes. Look, I wouldn’t take shots at the guy all of the time if Terry Murray STOPPED PUTTING HIM IN THE LINEUP. JEEZ. The Kings showed their ability to hang with the San Jose Sharks Thursday night, and it’s vital that they don’t fall back on that precedent. Everyone knows who the favorite is, who’s expected to win, that we’re without our best asset in Anze Kopitar, and now our key player in the face-off circle and secondhand scoring outlet Jarret Stoll. The excuses could go on, but I expect nothing less from this club than what they showed Thursday, only with fewer miscues. As for the first installment of the playoff round, all who were expecting a Sharks win – myself included, were right. But not exactly, as the Sharks just barely muscled out the win in Overtime on a very well executed odd-man rush. Which brings me to the point that staggers in my mind as the single-most important aspect to the Kings having a chance in this series: Conservative defense, say it with me now. The back-end of this team is what’s going to win games, plain and simple. Capiche? Capiche.
Hey fellas, thinkin’ what I’m thinking?
And it ain’t politics.
To have any chance, defense must be stressed as the primary factor every shift. That will feed to Jonathan Quick‘s success, and will provide the forwards with more opportunity to transition off of turnovers. You look at the Sharks’ game-winning goal Thursday night, and notice how vulnerable we can be when our defense creeps into the offensive zone. Especially in overtime, we cannot afford to be playing with the puck up-top, granted there’s powerplay and/or ample time and space available. Neither of those were the case. You give San Jose open opportunity, and we’re all but finished. We maintained that mindset throughout, but faltered at a terrible time. Now, I will call myself out here. If Alec Martinez does control that puck, and/or Wayne Simmonds is able to posses it, you’ve got a prime scoring chance in the works. That’s playing the risk and reward game, guess how that turned out.
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Stoll-en from the Lineup
Jarret Stoll will serve a one-game suspension for his hit on Ian White. Don’t enjoy saying it, but Stoll deserved the suspendo. So, how did Oscar Moller end up filling his void?
Hey, looks like Oscar’s playoff beard is improving by the year!
I’d be grouchy myself if I was victim of seriously questionable roster choices, time after time. Well, the Kings opted not to call up Brayden Schenn after his team was eliminated from the WHL playoffs. Even though he still had a one-game cushion before burning a year off of his NHL contract, the Kings looked the other way. Not saying I like the decision, but can’t hate it. Maybe playing it a little too safe, Dean? The kid could’ve come out and had a huge influence, even for just one game. And hey, who knows, maybe the Kings would’ve sought burning a year off of his deal worth his addition.
The Kings then pursued calling up John Zeiler from the Manchester Monarchs. What?
Zeiler couldn’t clear waivers in time for the NHL to grant his presence to the Kings’ lineup tonight, so Oscar Moller slips back into Terry Murray‘s notepad again. Moller will manage his duties on the 4th line, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some in-game shuffling for the Swede. He’s solid in winning races to loose pucks, especially on the forecheck. He won’t necessarily win those battles, but he’ll certainly disrupt the opponent enough to have an impact.
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This is most definitely a trap game for the Kings tonight, but the other way around. Usually when you’re talking this terminology, it means overlooking a sullen opponent and losing because of it. For tonight, it’s about the Kings not expecting to be neck and neck with the Sharks like the case was Thursday. A heartbreaking loss like that can often translate into a complete abomination in the contest to follow. Don’t come out just as hard, come out harder – with a vengeance. Focus on maintaining stay-at-home defense, protect Jonathan Quick, and execute on every offensive opportunity available. Get back what they took from you on Thursday, and head to Los Angeles with home-ice advantage.
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Kyle Clifford, Jack Johnson, Kevin Westgarth – SharksPage at www.sharkspage.com