Kings-Coyotes: LA Continues Mastery of Pacific Division

Life In HockeywoodContributor IDecember 11, 2009

Game 33: Kings 3, Coyotes 2 (eight rounds of the shootout)

If this season is a dream, I don't think many Kings fans want to wake up.

The Kings continue to plow through the December to Dismember like turpentine through a kitten.

One point separates the Kings from league leaders San Jose and Washington, and while I think the Presidents' Trophy is a little too far away, it's still interesting to mention.

Undefeated in regulation for the past seven games, Los Angeles continued their assault on the Pacific with a win against the Phoenix Coyotes. Sure, it took eight rounds of the shootout to decide the outcome, but a win is a win is a win.

The Coyotes were riding a five-game winning streak but hadn't scored a power play goal. It was remarkable to Shane Doan, who told The Arizona Republic's Paola Boivin as much:

"That's what's most exciting," Shane Doan said. "We've won five in a row and we haven't scored a goal on the power play? Our offense hasn't done anything. It's only a matter of time."

The Kings are now 8-1-1 against the Pacific Division, the most dominant performance of a team against its own division in the NHL so far this season. Here's another stat that I thought was cool: Of the last 33 games, the Kings scored first in 22 of them.

Wayne Simmonds got things started off in the first period, potting a quick goal to put L.A. up 1-0. Later in the period, the Kings got another goal, this time from Jack Johnson, giving him two two-point games in a row. The Kings then choked one back up when Scottie Upshaw scored to make it 2-1.

The second period saw a lot of action but no scoring between either team. Then in the third, Phoenix locked it all up with a Radim Vrbata power play goal.

The Rob Scuderi penalty may have allowed the Coyotes to make a game of it, but I hardly blame him—or any of the Kings. The effort they put forth the past two days was tremendous. Yesterday's overtime match against the Sharks was a horse race, and Thursday's game was just as frenetic.

I knew as soon as Vrbata scored that the game would head into a shootout. The Kings hadn't put that much pressure on the 'Yotes since the first period, and they looked a step slow. The shootout, which was the longest in Kings history, saw goals by Jack Johnson (!), Michal Handzus, Drew Doughty, and the eventual game-winner going to Justin Williams.

The first star of the game was Johnson, and afterwards he spoke to practically everyone: got the on-ice interview with Heidi, then the radio interview with Daryl Evans, and then answered the crush of reporters in the locker room. He spoke about the fatigue that was apparent in the game, via Hammond:

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“After a certain point, you don’t think about it," Johnson said. "You’re just playing. Particularly in overtime, 4 on 4, that’s really pretty fun hockey and an exciting pace and a time to be real creative. At that point, you’re not really thinking about it. It hits you more after the game.”

If I may channel KLAC's Vic the Brick: The Kings have started to live by the Warrior Creed—live through death, show no fear, ultimate self-sacrifice. With the loss of Ryan Smyth, they have mimicked the qualities of the bamboo: They bend but do not break. Feeling you, Warrior Kings of the Frozen Battleground!

Wow, now I feel a little weird. Is that...hope? Time to take a walk in the cleansing rain of what could be the last StormWatch of the decade.

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