Friday, February 7, 2014
Game 56: LA Kings Jackets win sorta
The CBJ only got one goal in the period they dominated, the first. LA got their goon on to get themselves motivated, then played like a team 1 year removed from a cup run. They kept turning up the pressure, and eventually got a couple of goals through. But I see this as a development game from for our young players. Experience makes a difference, and now they know what playoff intensity looks like. This is a level they have to be able to rise to consistently, to do so is a part of a continuing development of this team. I do feel this was a good game by the CBJ, a very strong effort. They need to translate those kinds of efforts into wins down the stretch to make the playoffs. Easy to say....
Another rich game tomorrow night against the Sharks.
2. My second CBJ beer goes to Bobrovsky, of course. To get there you need your goal tender to be tough, and Bob really battled hard in the second period to keep a 1-0 lead coming into the third period. In a repeat of last years game, the Kings were able to ratchet up enough pressure to score a 4 on 4 goal, as they forced Bob to break positional discipline. Muzzin made a nice play after a good feed by Kopitar to beat Bob in the 5 hole, and the game was tied. Again, in OT, Bob gets beat in a 4 on 4, but he played a very, very stout game, and milked a single early goal into a point. Nice work on the road Bob.
3. My third CBJ beer goes to Ryan Johansen's continuing development. I think tonight Joey's first real taste of playoff intensity as 'the man', and he got knocked off his game a few times in the third period. Once I saw him with this ?WTF? expression from a really physical, borderline dirty, play by a Kings defensemen, but as the play continued he got his butt back down the ice into the defensive zone where he made a play. So now he knows what to expect, and he gets a chance to process that information and perhaps respond differently next time. Good stuff.
4. My fourth CBJ beer goes to Jack Johnson, for assuming the role of stalwart vs the role of star. My voice is a cry in the wilderness to the fancy stats community, alas. I think Jack Johnson's defensive statistics over the last 15 games based on CORSI numbers differ significantly from his career mean performance by virtue of the fact that he has changed his style of play into a more defensively responsible style. So until you produce the numbers to prove me wrong, I am right. I love poetic license. Nice work tonight Jack, chiming in with a power play goal to provide the goal needed to obtain a point. This power play looked really good, and capitalized on an opportunity. That was the only one the Kings would give them.
5. My fifth CBJ beer goes to us, the fans. This whole Metro playoff race is insanely fun. I like this team, what they bring to the ice. It is a good group, and worthy of our support. The funny thing about this team, is that in some way, shape, or form, the return of Marian Gaborik down the stretch will push RJ Umberger down to the fourth line. RJ, Letestu, and MacKenzie form a formidable fourth line for a stretch run. Gaborik will need to match RJs intensity on a line with Anismov and Foligno, but there were a couple of times tonight when RJs hustle put him in a critical spot only to mishandle the puck. Gaborik is unlikely to exhibit the same tendancies, but is not as likely to play a defensively responsible game (I feel like Hitchcock just seized control of my mind for a moment).. But realistically, Gaborik is Gaborik and is it wise to expect that from him? Yet that's what Gaborik needs to do on his return in order to earn a contract offer. Why trade this guy? We already know we can win without him. Yes we gave up assets, but we have those in the pipeline as well. So take a risk of letting him go to free agency, integrate him to this group of players, and see if he can't mesh, yet score a bucket load of goals down the stretch. Then you have a chance to sign him to an incentive based contract. And as fans, you gotta love that.
6. My sixth CBJ beer goes to us, the bloggers and the readers. This is the 1500th post on this blog, which is a testament to our ability to go on and on about seemingly important yet not exactly precise discussions of our passion for and about the game of hockey, and specifically that of the CBJ to whom we follow. <gasp> It's been said that I have a bit of a problem with rambling on and on and ... but how else do you get to 1500? Anyway, its been fun. Which is why we do it. Thanks for reading, and especially for taking the time to comment. That keeps it really fun!
A development game for the CBJ tonight, in which they exhibited steady progress compared to similar conditions last year. The Kings didn't hold anything back, yet this my be a Phyrric victory for LA, because of the potential for their Captain Dustin Brown to draw a lengthy suspension for his conduct during the game. Could that determine the Kings fate in a competitive Western Conference playoff chase? Or not. The Kings like to annoy you that way. But Johansen, Jenner and Murray have now tasted it. These guys all have something more in their development that will allow them to find a way to respond to this type of challenge in the future. I wonder about how this team, playing this way, matches up against the Pens? That would tell us how much progress they have made.
Its late. The Jackets lost, but they won the long term battle. Instead of needing a win tomorrow against San Jose to stay in playoff position, they only need a tie. Of course a win might put them in second place in the conference going into the Olympic break. Meh. That position is irrelevant. They are in it the rest of the way at this point. What more could one ask for?