May 15, 2013 10:52 am

Waking up with the Kings: May 15

-Jonathan Quick maintained his extraordinarily high level of play as the Los Angeles Kings built up a two-goal lead for the first time in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs and held on for a 2-0 win over the San Jose Sharks in a game that didn’t resemble much of what Kings fans witnessed in the first round series against the St. Louis Blues. Especially in the second period, there were wide open swaths of ice to work with as the trench warfare associated with the first round abruptly evolved into a more back-and-forth demonstration in which players on both teams had opportunities to display their speed. The intensity and compete level remained evident – the teams combined for 76 hits, the most since Game 4 of the St. Louis series – in an up-tempo game appropriate for the second round of the NHL playoffs.

-The only real concern I have of the final 20 minutes of the game – in which the Sharks out-shot the Kings 16-4 and worked disproportionately in the L.A. end – is that it could be partially related to the Kings rolling three centers after having lost Jarret Stoll on the hit by Raffi Torres (see below). More than Stoll’s absence, the pressure applied by San Jose had more to do with the balancing act between two strong teams over a 60-minute hockey game. It’s practically impossible for one team to impose its will for a full three periods – and that’s not to suggest that the Kings remotely came close to “extending their will” on the Sharks throughout Game 1. There are going to be ebbs and flows and surges in momentum in all playoff games, and when a team faces a two-goal deficit in the third period, they’re going to respond with a heavy push.

-Is there an NHL award for Player Who Shows the Best Ability to Leave a Puck for a Teammate While Tying Up an Opposing Player, Thusly Creating Space and a Scoring Opportunity for Said Teammate? I don’t think there is, but if there was, Mike Richards would win that award.

-So, Raffi Torres. His late second period hit on Jarret Stoll appeared to catch Stoll in both the shoulder and the head. It’s ambiguous whether the head was the “principal point of contact,” though there was certainly violent contact made between Torres’ shoulder and Stoll’s upper body, and Stoll fell awkwardly to the ice – almost head-first, it appeared – after the hit was delivered. With a player like Torres, hits such as the one on Stoll occasionally fall in a grey area and are not always cut-and-dry when the question of whether it is an offense that deserves supplementary discipline. Torres’ suspension history will obviously be a weighty factor. Per the reports below, an in-person hearing has been scheduled with the league, which means that Torres could be facing an extended suspension. It does not mean that a lengthy suspension is a certainty, only that one is possible. I’ll have more on the Torres/Stoll incident throughout the day.

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