Kings Beat Rangers 3-2 in OT: 5 Thoughts About the Game
Scoring came early in the first period from Kings star Anze Kopitar on a one-timer off a nifty saucer pass from Justin Williams. But the Rangers Ryan Callahan knotted the contest at one apiece with the period winding down on a sharp angle shot that somehow squeaked by Jon Quick.
The second period was mired in the neutral zone with no team really gathering a foothold.
A slow start to the third hurt the Kings, as Marion Gaborik slipped by the Kings coverage and sent in a loose puck beside a pile up of players in front of Quick midway through the period. But a late push came from the Kings, and with five minutes remaining Mike Richards tipped home a centering feed from Brad Richardson on an even man rush up ice.
The Rangers would end the period by killing off an untimely interference call on former King Brian Boyle. And only two minutes into the overtime period Ryan McDonagh took an offensive zone tripping penalty.
This would seal the fate of the Rags when the Kings capitalized on their fifth power play chance of the night as Jack Johnson sneaked down behind the Rangers PK unit and tucked home the cross ice feed from none other than Mike Richards.
Good opening contest for both teams, here five of my thoughts on the game.
Sweden Is Quiet
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The first thing I noticed, and something noticeable all through the game, was just how quiet and reserved the Swedish crowd was.
Now these weren't exactly rosters full of Swedish national heroes, but nonetheless, you would have thought a midget game was going on and only the lower bowl was full.
The 13,800 crowd didn't even make noise when Kyle Clifford dropped the gloves with Brandon Prust, or when Lundqvist came up with larceny with his glove hand.
Maybe it was the acoustics of the stadium or something, but I would have thought this crowd would have been much more into it considering this is their only chance to see two NHL teams, quality NHL teams at that, live, all year.
Mike Milbury Apparently Doesn't Agree with Safety Precautions
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If you were watching the game on the Versus coverage, you saw one of the most awkward exchanges between analyst Keith Jones, and... "Analyst" Mike Milbury between the first and second period.
The topic of conversation was the dangerous hit by Ranger Mats Zuccarello on the King's Kyle Clifford. Clifford was sent head first into the boards, while not retaining possession of the puck from a hit from behind by Zuccarello. Zuccarello was penalized two minutes on the play for boarding.
It was a dangerous hit, and a careless hit by Zuccarello, and while Clifford got up unscathed, it's the exact hit the NHL is trying to condemn.
Keith Jones and Milbury exchanged heated words over what Jones was calling a "definite" suspension.
Look Mike, we all know you are an advocate for tough hockey and everything. But that hit was dangerous and it needs to be made known that that won't be tolerated. It's about player safety, not about making the game "soft". Unless you agree with Sydney Crosby being out, and Marc Savard never playing again.
Oh, and P.S., if you want to suspend Simon Gagne for the punch on Dubinsky, I wonder how you felt about the four punches Marchand threw on Daniel Sedin in the Stanley cup Finals?
oh wait, that was just rough and tough Bruins hockey, right?
The Powerplay Might Still Be an Issue
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The Kings were 21st on the powerplay last year. And they certainly didn't look like a team that logged a lot of minutes practicing anything different systematically today.
1-for-5 on the power play isn't a bad day honestly, but the way the Kings go about the power play leaves fans pretty frustrated. It's a lot of stationary players, and not enough penetration or player movement.
Granted, this is the first game of an 82 game season, but to see the same things that made them 21st last season is a touch frustrating. Especially with the new added arsenal of Richards and Gagne to the units.
It's getting to the point where perhaps it isn't about personnel, because they have it, and more about the strategy applied.
Everyone Loves Alec Martinez
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Alec Martinez had a great game today, and man did the Versus/NBC sports team let you know it.
Martinez did have a strong game, and was arguably the Kings best defender today, and I am very glad that he received some recognition. But you would have thought Pierre McGuire was talking about his son the way he was gushing.
I love the coverage that Versus/NBC Sports does, and I commend them for their work. And I don't think it was entirely ridiculous the way they talked about Martinez, but it certainly was amusing.
And again, let's be honest, Martinez had a darn good game today.
Mike Richards and Simon Gagne Make a Huge Difference
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Mike Richards slammed home the tying goal with a strong play, and he fed Jack Johnson the game winning goal with a strong play. And this is what Richards noticeably brought to the rink today. Strength. This guy wears the work boots, and it shows.
There was something different about watching the Kings today. They looked crisp on breakouts, more intense in the corners, sharper on movement and whenever I was saying to myself, "wow that was a nice breakout." it normally involved one of those two guys.
Again, it's only the first of 82 games, but if that game was any example of what Gagne and Richards can bring to the table, it's going to be an exciting season.
There is a flare and workmanship to their games that you could say hasn't been real evident in Los Angeles since the days of Gretzky.