Kings at Devils: Poor Choices, Good Results
Kings: 3, Devils: 1
“Tonight is the first of five game 7’s” – what I hope Sutter told Kings in locker room before game.
— Lewis Kay (@lewkay) March 23, 2015
Even though nobody would likely be thrown into the ocean if they failed, tonight sure seemed like the beginning of a handful of must win games. And to prepare for said game, some…interesting choices were made.
Mike Richards was recalled from the AHL, and Martinez and his cute, poor little head were pronounced healthy enough to play, leaving for a tough choice. What defensemen should be relegated to the press box?
Let’s just get this out of the way: Darryl Sutter has made a mistake in benching Brayden McNabb to make room for Alec Martinez. We all knew it was coming, but it doesn’t make it any less palatable. The Sekera-McNabb pairing has been the Kings’ most solid pairing of the past near-month, and Sutter’s love for grizzled, slow-moving veteran defensemen is probably going to bite us all in the ass, and soon.
Tonight, however, it didn’t matter too much, because the Devils, minus Cory Schneider, just aren’t very good. The dreaded Sekera-Regeher pairing had an even night, thanks to Sekera rifling a terrifying shot for the game’s first goal, his first as a King.
Not too much later, the Kings were granted a 5-on-3 power play, executed basically perfectly. Tyler Toffoli’s goal was eventually the game-winner.
For a power play that is often head-scratchingly ineffective, tonight it was laughably good. A third period power play resulted in the Kings literally being in the zone for the full two minutes.
The Devils made it a close game at the beginning of the second, with Scott Gomez beating (who else) Robyn Regehr to a loose puck, and burying it into a mostly open net. Given the Kings recent abysmal third period track record, it felt like one of those games that was going to come down to the absolute last minute, despite the Devils only having eight shots on goal after two periods.
Thankfully, the Kings held strong, eventually increasing their lead off of a Kopitar goal for his third point of the night. It never got any closer.
Cory Schneider made a handful of jaw-dropping saves in a game that fairly easily could have ended 6-1, and Jonathan Quick was solid when he had to be. Given the relative ease of tonight’s workload, it would not be too surprising to see Quick back in net tomorrow night against the Rangers. Then again, this is a brutal and brutally important road trip, so giving Martin Jones a start seems the wise decision in the long-run, especially considering Quick’s poor record in back-to-back games.
The Kings got two points against the one team on this trip they absolutely should beat, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they are going to have to be better the rest of the way. It was a good game, but given the level of competition, not impressively so.
Still, two points are two points. Given the fact that Winnipeg and Calgary are also on track to collect their two points tonight, an even bigger game is on the line tomorrow. Hopefully it will help to get those infamous playoff juices pumping.
Lombardi’s “have Richards share horror stories with the rest of the Kings about not living in Manhattan Beach” plan has worked perfectly.
— PumperNicholl (@PumperNicholl) March 23, 2015
Playoff juices or the threat of winter. Whatever works.