Waking up with the Kings: February 12
-On my original look at Jeff Carter’s first goal Monday night, I credited his speed in getting past David Backes unmarked into an area where Slava Voynov could get him that puck. On closer inspection, that’s just a terrific read by Voynov jumping into the rush after Mike Richards stepped away from a hit to leave the puck for him. Voynov outwaited Alex Pietrangelo, who committed and dove to block the pass a moment too early, and then threaded a needle through a tiny channel between Pietrangelo and Brian Elliott right onto the blade of Carter’s stick. Carter was moving his feet all night and exhibited his elite speed, but that play illustrates Voynov’s skill as much as anyone else’s. I’ll have more on Slava later today. Also: Wade Redden, last player back into the defensive zone on a four-on-four? Hmm.
-On Carter’s second goal, the last comment made by the St. Louis television broadcast team before depicting the mini breakaway was “Another big hit by Clifford.” Keaton Ellerby put that puck right on Carter’s stick to spring him loose, but Kyle Clifford’s hit on Alex Steen to win a puck battle set that play up. I don’t see that Clifford-Carter-Williams line changing any time soon. Clifford had six hits to lead all skaters.
-That 200-foot game that made the Blues such a difficult team to play against a season ago – where have you gone? L.A.’s zone entry improved as the game progressed due to wide lanes exiting the defensive zone and through the neutral zone. It was a power play, granted, but on Davis Drewiske’s goal, there wasn’t one Blue in the neutral zone to encumber the Kings’ entrance into the attacking end. There wasn’t much consistency in the Blues’ forecheck. Not to be too down on St. Louis, but they looked like a team that was winless on their homestand.
-I’ve seen most of the comments from the game thread, and I do not really understand some of the angst towards Simon Gagne. I thought Gagne was fine yesterday. Among the notes I took during the game were: Gagne – breaks up 3-on-2 (Tarasenko); Gagne – good game most zones? Smart game, got puck deep. I also remember him taking a hit at the blueline in the second period to get a puck into the attacking end. What didn’t you like? What was I missing? It was up and down at points, but I thought Gagne raised his game overall on this trip.
-Meaningless, anomalous stat about how the Blues should offer me a reward to stay as far away from them as possible: I covered St. Louis in Anaheim twice last year. I covered them twice in the regular season at Staples Center last year, and all four playoff games. I covered Monday’s game. The Blues lost all nine of those games, going 0-8-1. They were two points away from the President’s Trophy in 2011-12. Bizarre.