The Kings survived a near third period meltdown to beat rival Anaheim and extend their win streak to 8. The win moved the Kings into 4th place, ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes. I'll get to the streak later.
A lot to talk about tonight, so I'll keep the game summary brief. In a game that was sure to excite even the biggest hockey cynic, the Kings and Ducks combined for 10 goals. After pulling ahead 4-1, the Kings gave up 3 in a row to the Ducks. However the Kings didn't fold. The boys in black found their fight and potted the next 2 goals to take the win.
Anze Kopitar continued his point streak with a dominant 2 goal, 2 assist night. Kopitar has points in every game of the Kings 8 game win streak, 6 goals and 8 assists in that span. Kopitar has regained his dominant play from earlier this season. More importantly, Kopitar has shown he can play with a variety of linemates and is not dependant on Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams to produce. Kopitar exhibited immense skill on the last goal of the game when he wove the puck around an outstretched Jonas Hiller, behind the net, then back in front and in.
Kopitar wasn't the only one to record a 4 point night for the Kings. Jack Johnson had a goal and 3 assists, including a crafty play walking the blueline that led to a powerplay goal. Handzus, Simmonds, and Frolov also had multi-point nights.
After the game, Kings color commentator Jim Fox made an interesting point concerning Coach Terry Murray's use of his timeout. I should say the lack of use of his timeout. Fox stated that Murray allowed the players to figure it out on their own. After that the Kings turned their play around and managed to win the game. Coach Murray said that sometimes a timeout can be “embarassing”. He added that once the game was tied the pressure was gone. The Kings no longer had to protect the lead, they could go back to playing their game.
The Kings 8 game win streak ties a team record. The last 8 game win streak was nearly twenty years ago, and the one before that back nearly another twenty.
The Kings aren't the only team that's red hot right now. The Washington Capitals are on an incredible 12 game blitz. Not far behind is Ottawa with an 11 game rush. However, not every team can claim to be headed in the right direction. Until recent wins, Calgary and Edmonton were mired in extensive losing streaks. The Islanders are stuck in a 6 game plummet while earlier in the season the Carolina Hurricanes dropped 14 in a row.
The Kovalchuk drama has finally come to an end. The Thrashers shipped the talented winger to New Jersey for what ended up being an underwhelming package of Niclas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier, and an undoubtedly late 1st round pick. The Devils also receive Anssi Salmela back from the Thrashers.
The package pales in comparison with the deals that were rumored to be coming out of LA including the likes of Wayne Simmonds, Jack Johnson, and Alexander Frolov. The result of the trade points to Atlanta GM Don Waddell's price being much too high. Now the focus will turn to GM Dean Lombardi and what, if anything, he plans to do before the trade deadline. It seems that his priority might be keeping this team's great chemistry intact.
The Kings return to action on Saturday afternoon against the team their win streak started with, the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings sit in 9th place, just out of the last playoff spot in the West. The puck drops at 1pm PT.
Interesting side note, Jim Fox met with Jeremy Roenick between the first and second periods to pick his brain on a few different subjects. Roenick stated that he felt the Kings were a very exciting team to watch, not to mention the rest of the Southwest Division. Huh? I can only assume he meant the Pacific Division, a Division in which he has played for three different teams.
In defense of J.R.'s blunder, Southwest Division would make way more sense considering Dallas is far from Pacific.
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney