Saturday, October 18, 2008
For the second game in a row the Kings bring some excitement to Staples Center by ending the game against the Carolina Hurricanes in dramatic fashion. After the first goal of the game that got the Kings up in the first minute, the 4-3 OT win didn't actually hold a consistent tone since the tables tilted back and forth between the two teams. The Hurricanes were able to turn three (3) redirected shots into goals against for the Kings. The Kings' new system of converging in front of Jason LaBarbera is both good and bad. Good because they're helping out Barbs and blocking shots, but bad because they're creating more traffic in front of the net causing his vision to be limited from shooters from the outside. Even though there was a good sized number of people in attendance at Staples, the crowd didn't get into the game until about the latter end of the second period. The three goals against were a bit demoralizing because they were pretty ugly.
But the talk of the town was Michal Handzus. He scored less than a minute into the game and got the goal in OT for the two points. He had a fantastic game and I'm happy to see him doing better. He had 20:33 of TOI and I noticed him on every shift. He even was 65% on his faceoffs! This is a good trend for Handzus, and I hope this continues trending upwards for him.
Once again, this is the situation where there is always great individual sucess even when the Kings aren't playing that well. Case in point, the second period. The Hurricanes came out strong in the second scoring three crappy goals while also completely taking over the neutral zone. The Kings were doing a good job shutting down the Canes down low and clearing pucks but were not not able to turn around and start generating. The Canes were more aggressive with their sticks and it was definitely getting frustrating sitting in the stands.
The Kings were able to start turning things around as a collective group once Dustin Brown scored in the waning minutes of the second period. They also killed off the five (5) penalties that they took. They are still perfect on their PK, 19 for 19. I'm so flipping amazed and proud of them. A noticeable player on the PK was new-comer Kyle Quincey. He's got some good positional work going for him, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well he was able to fit in with Matt Greene. I wasn't surprised by his play (c'mon, he's coming from Detroit) but more with how he was gelling with the boys. It's a good sign and I'm sure Patrick O'Sullivan took his buddy out for Pinkberry later.
The Kings looked good defensively for the first half of the third period, but once Anze Kopitar scored his goal to tie the game, the Canes started coming back with energy of their own. They were breaking up passes and forechecking like crazy. It was all the Kings could do to try to run the clock down and end regulation. There were definitely some insanely stressful moments in the last few minutes of regulation with Barbs having to flash the pads to get the boys to overtime. But the arena was buzzing by that point and the energy levels remaining high during overtime instead of the players looking to get through the five minutes with caution. Halfway thought the OT frame Handzus got a break and he and Alexander Frolov entered the Canes zone with a Canes defender between them. He was apparently looking to pass but instead took the shot. Thank god because I felt like they wouldn't have scored if he tried to get it over to Fro. So the game began and ended with Handzus. Congrats to him and the Kings for the win!