LOS ANGELES 3
As far as I'm concerned, we're in a rain delay.
Ya know, caring again really sucks sometimes.
There's a hockey team playing in that rink. It's even wearing the right color jerseys. They're very close even with some obvious holes in the lineup that could be filled. They don't need the guys in stripes and the Toronto replay crew ganging up on them. With a replacement level defence this team is probably 6 and 3, at least.
Good move having this game at 730 instead of the usual 6. Made the atmosphere a lot more 'Saturday night' as opposed to Sunday. The crowd is starting to get into it again. If this team can streak through the next homestand, this place will be cooking again.
All the focus will be on the goal Connor McDavid scored with 5 seconds left and that will detract from what was an interesting hockey game even with not a lot going on. It is true that the Kings weren't setting the world on fire - they also weren't completely shut off either. The fact is that despite being outshot, the Oilers were never more than one shot from the game being even. That's something against this Kings team.
I swear Quick has done this before with the glove backwards across the line. Maybe even to the Oilers. He knows he got beat.
Why would a ref reverse his own call on the ice? I'm thinking that must be disallowed going forward. It looks way too fishy for one thing. It screwed them over badly tonight and the guy probably wasn't even thinking about it. Too bad he was on the wrong side of the net too. Little things. It should have never come down to that, but it did.
McLellan managed his bench well to the point where I barely missed Schultz being gone. He rewarded Gryba and rightly so. The guy made plays. Oscar Klefbom got a PP assist. That's a role he should get to try. They played the sort of game that the Kings couldn't exploit or run away in. That's saying something. That's important. It will serve this team well going forward.
The fate of this season may come down to whether Chiarelli is ready, willing and able to pull the trigger on a deal or two for defencemen. If they were able to cash in Fayne and a pick for a more two-way player of slightly better pedigree than Fayne, then grab another supporting player, and have Nurse play his way onto the team, you've got a group that could probably support the forwards and goalie - who are playoff calibre. We'll see if that happens. I sure hope it does.
- He can't get beat by that bank shot. Not good at all. What I've noticed so far about Talbot though is that ugly goals don't get him down. He was excellent after that goal and you certainly can't fault him for the loss. He could have stole this one for them though and came up just short. Too bad.
- The surprise of the year so far for me. I didn't see it in training camp - really didn't. I must've expected a defencemen of his size and facial hair to play a different sort of game I guess. What he's done is not run around crushing people, but played a steady positional game, moved the puck simply and effectively with very few 'glass and out's, and taken care of his defensive partners. Honestly, that's damn impressive compared to where my expectations were. I still suspect we're seeing him good because of the company he keeps, but thankfully we're not seeing him as one of them or worse. This team would be in big trouble if we were. Had one bad giveaway in a ton of icetime.
- Got beat a couple times, but skated well and made generally good choices with the puck. He knows how to get it, skate to a productive spot and pass. He was also on near the end trying to get a goal and did just fine. He's a much better option than Ference. Simple as that. He should keep playing as long as a spot is there.
- Didn't see him do much of anything before he got hurt. Didn't see him get hurt for that matter.
- Much better game than last. He was much more into this one and I suspect he got a wakeup call from McLellan that helped with that. The thing is, he still didn't step up and look unique or better than his teammates. That's an issue. He should be making plays every night that make him look like he's not just another defenceman. Those have been missing this year. Too comfy? Nicked up? Adapting to the new system? I'm not sure yet, but I'm watching.
- Ugh...this guy is starting to frustrate me. I know a lot is being asked of him, but you can't blow coverage like he did on the third LA goal. You have to have that man. He screwed up in this regard multiple times against Washington too. Is this a weakness of his game? It's starting to look like it. The thing is - he was advertised to me as an offensively capable player and yet I'm not seeing the passes or the shooting that was indicate this. My hope is that he's just adjusting and things will be okay, but I'm starting to get a little concerned.
- Okay. Again. I don't think that's enough with the group around him. Plain is not a luxury we have at the moment.
- These guys are producing offence with relative ease on a consistent basis against tough opponents. This is in terms of both goals and chances. You've got to love watching these guys attack. They played more of a rush game than a turnover game tonight and it still generally worked. I don't think McLellan expected their success and is honestly having a bit of an issue deploying them because he thought the Hall-Hopkins line would be his #1. They're not. McDavid was fabulous again. Watching him blow by excellent NHL defencemen with ease will never get old. He attacks the net like no one I've seen live. Great job getting open and setting up Pouliot, and creating chances the rest of the game. I'm struggling a little bit with how he didn't put the chance at the end in the roof. Quick is so good along the ice. Yakupov and Pouliot were both good again, getting open, keeping up and distributing. Two things to note - Yakupov is routinely making better plays from his own zone that spring linemates with speed, and Pouliot has found his money spot in the slot. The way these guys bared down and produced three chances from their work at the very end of the game was a delight to see. You're never out of it with guys like McDavid and Yakupov on the ice. Really too bad there was no one close enough in a 6-on-5 to tap in Yakupov's point shot as that was a ripper that Quick barely got. If things stay in place, these guys are going to make it rain all year. So long as injuries are avoided and the team doesn't tank, I'm predicting 100 for McDavid. If you combine what he's doing now with the fact that he's improving and hasn't even had a big game yet - and yes I know how tough 100 is these days - I see it happening. What a treat!
- A better night from these guys for sure, but they're still not 'humming'. Part of that can be attributed to Klinkhammer for sure. I'm not bagging on the guy - he did his best, skated well, got a couple of chances and landed some hits. For him, that's a great game. The thing is that his presence on the line means that LA essentially sends three to guard Hall and Hopkins. This severely limits what they can do. They combined on a nice goal that I think we'll see more of as the season goes on. Hall was better tonight - though he's lucky he didn't get a really untimely penalty in the third. He looked closer to getting things rolling tonight. Hopkins was good again. He's just extremely consistent and is really coming along as a guy who can play against the very best. Credit to Hall as well for getting the best of Doughty on a few occasions - that ain't easy.
- Not a lot of forecheck from Korpokoski tonight which is basically how I judge his game. Penalties didn't look great to me but one of them also looked like a weak call so who knows. I suspect his lack of consistency has been what has held his career back. They fact that he hasn't gotten a shot with Hall and Hopkins is probably saying somemthing. Lander's had more noticeable games and I like to see him attacking more than he did tonight. It's not something that's 'needed' per se, but it can push you over the edge in marginal games and Lander is capable. Remember that he has a tendency like Paajarvi did to drift into cheating for defence. Hopefully the coach is on him for not being as aggressive as he could be. Purcell? Again, fired the puck and missed the net. If you're going to be known for only having a shot you can't be missing.
- Not a lot of time for this crew which was to be expected. Gazdic fought a solid fight, stood up to a really nice hit attempt and was decent enough out there. Letestu got called upon a couple of times in terms of powerplay and at the end of the game and did just fine for himself. I like Iiro - have since last year. He plays a nice game. Even though he wasn't out there much, you noticed a little bit of skill and he wasn't just another number. Would love to see a fourth line that swaps Slepyshev for Gazdic. Would let you roll four with ease.
Like I said. Caring sucks sometimes. I'm bitter about losing this one tonight. They could have turned it many different times. Was it a sublime effort? Hell no. But good teams win all kinds of games in all kinds of ways. They're getting close though - and that's something. This feels different for sure.