Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t give up 5 goals in a game often, but when he does it seems to be in surprising situations (like to the NY Islanders early in the season). Lundqvist has two shutouts in his last seven games and hadn’t given up five goals himself since November 24th in Tampa Bay. He faced only one more shot than Dan Ellis and gave up three more goals. I’m sure that’s not what Rangers fans were expecting after the display against the Flyers Sunday. Most Rangers fans are probably wondering what team will show up for the game in San Jose and whether their team will squeak into a playoff spot in the east or drop out of the playoffs, since many teams around them have a couple games in hand against them.
Ducks fans are also dealing with a roller coaster watching their team play lately. The Ducks were shut out against the Canucks (the number one team in the league, but the way they played was more disturbing than the score), but won four of their last five games. The down side, of course, is that before the last five games the Ducks had lost five in a row. Before that, they’d won five in a row, though. The team has been very streaky all season and fans are hoping they can make that a winning streak for long enough that they’ll end up in the playoffs. Their win tonight put the Ducks back in 10th place in the western conference. The playoff battle is definitely going to go down to the wire again this season. The Kings won tonight and the Stars got a point in the standings with an overtime loss.
Lubomir Visnovsky has five goals and two assists in his last three games. He had a hat trick and an assist against Dallas and two goals and an assist against the Rangers. Lubo hitting his stride is something Ducks fans are hoping will help their team squeak into the playoffs this season. They missed the playoffs last season and don’t want their team to be sitting at home after the regular season again.
Tags: Canucks, Dan Ellis, Ducks, fans, Flyers, Henrik Lundqvist, Hockey, Islanders, Kings, Lightning, losing streak, Lubomir Visnovsky, NHL, playoffs, Rangers, standings, Stars, winning streak
The Anaheim Ducks won their second game in a row and extended the Kings’ three game losing streak to four. The Kings have lost 7 of their last 8 games starting in San Jose on November 15th. They only won 5 of their 12 games in November. After starting their season winning all but three of their first 15 games and leading the western conference and sometimes even the NHL, the Kings have practically been in a free fall. It may be early, but if the playoffs started today the Kings would not be in them.
When the Kings lost three games in a row, most Kings fans weren’t really concerned. They knew losing streaks happen and you can’t win them all. But if playing the Ducks wasn’t enough to get the Kings out of the slump they’ve been in lately, what will it take? Coach Terry Murray thought the team played well saying he’s not ready to shake up the line combinations yet. If losing 7 out of the last 8 games and 4 in a row isn’t enough of a sign that things aren’t going well, I’m not sure what will get them out of it. If Kings fans aren’t concerned at this point, I think they should be. At this rate, neither of the southern California teams (and perhaps none of the three California teams) will make it into the playoffs. I predicted that the Kings would be in the western conference finals this season and I still think they can get there, but they’ve got to figure out what’s wrong and address the mental lapses soon. November was a bad month for them. It’s time for them to turn the page and start December with a fresh outlook.
The first game of the “Freeway Face-Off” goes to the Ducks. There are five more games between the SoCal rivals and they’ll probably all be more interesting than tonight’s game. The Ducks and Kings each face the Florida Panthers next (the Ducks host them Wednesday; the Kings Thursday).
Tags: Ducks, Freeway Face-Off, Hockey, Kings, losing streak, NHL, Panthers, playoffs, Sharks, slump, Terry Murray
It may be early and Terry Murray may not pay attention to the standings much, but the fans know that their Los Angeles Kings are #1 in the west and #2 in the NHL after their league leading 8th home win in a row to start the season. The Kings are also tied with the Ducks for the longest current NHL winning streak with six games. Their penalty kill is still perfect at home (and their overall pk is also #1 in the NHL). Their top line had points in 4 of their 5 goals including a goal on the first shot of the game and one on a beautiful penalty shot by Dustin Brown. As Kopi said, “it’s nice to see him get one of the nicer goals.” Brown said, “I had a plan at center and I switched about the blue line.” He mentioned that he has three moves that he does and two come off that move to the right. He said he just “pulled a Kopi and slid it five hole.” The penalty shot might not be as rare as it was in the past, but those goals are still special for the players and their fans.
Justin Williams tied his career high point streak of 9 games with his goal against the Islanders. Jonathan Quick has consistently been one of the leading goaltenders in the league (and had a save percentage of almost 95% tonight). The Kings even scored on the power play (not the Kings’ strong suit this season) against the Islanders. What more could LA Kings fans ask of their team? It really doesn’t get much better than this as a fan. It’s good to be the Kings and their fans this season.
A couple years ago, the Kings would have started slow against the last place team in the NHL. They didn’t do that against the last place New York Islanders. Instead, the Kings came out strong and extended the Islanders’ league leading losing streak to ten games.
Southern California is not the place to visit if you’re on any other team in the NHL this season. The SoCal home teams have lost only 2 games this season and gone without a point in a game only once.
Possibly one of the best signs for Kings fans is that it’s getting better all the time. The last few games, the Kings’ top line seems to have clicked. Kopi has 7 points in the last three games, Brown has 5, & Parse has 3. Kopitar scored his 300th career NHL point with his second goal of the game against the Islanders (and the 301st with his assist in the last Kings goal). When asked about what changed for his line, Kopitar said he thought they’d been making good plays without getting any results, “but now we get a few bounces here and there and we score a couple goals and then the confidence gets high and everything seems a lot easier.” That’s really how things have been going for the Kings all season. Many players have talked about how everything seems to go your way when you’re winning. When things are going well for your team, all the bounces seem to go your way. The Kings are continuing to work hard in every game and not phoning it in – ever. The team clearly enjoys being on the top of the standings and having other teams have to come into Staples Center to play up to the Kings’ level of play and not the other way around. Teams coming to LA know they’re going to have a tough time and play harder as a result.
This year’s Kings remind me a lot of the Penguins of 2008, though they have a better record. They were knocked out of the playoffs (many of the players’ first in their NHL career) early last season and they’re clearly determined to do better this season. Before the season started, I said I thought the Kings would be in the conference finals and perhaps even the Stanley Cup Finals. The more I see of this team, the more I believe they’ve got the right mindset and skill set to go deep into the playoffs.
The Kings travel to San Jose to face the Sharks Monday night. That’s always a tough building and the team knows they have to take their A game with them to San Jose. Clearly, the team hopes to continue their winning streak there.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Hockey, Islanders, Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams, Kings, losing streak, NHL, penalty kill, penalty shot, playoffs, power play, Scott Parse, Sharks, Stanley Cup Finals, Staples Center, Terry Murray, winning streak