“I think people pay to see emotion, too. It’s good to see that once in a while,” Darryl Sutter said after Wednesday’s 4-1 Kings win at Calgary. “It might be, quite honest, what maybe has been lacking in our team.” It’s probably one of several things that have been lacking in the Kings’ play in the calendar year, but yes, Darryl, point noted. Los Angeles channeled its emotion appropriately, despite what Mike Milbury and others may have said, and won a tough road game in a charged environment lifted by the Doughty-Tkachuk incident, Jarome Iginla’s final appearance in Calgary, for this season at least, and the potential for the home team to clinch a playoff berth. In less abstract terms, the Kings benefited from a very good Ben Bishop performance, an airtight penalty kill, and the ability to benefit from some elbow grease in hard areas on the ice. Speaking of which, Iginla’s work on Wednesday was a vintage performance in which he fought and bled for the team, crashed the net to will in a game-winning goal with the help of a strange deflection off Mark Giordano’s stick and supplied the well-channeled and inspiring performance that served as an arterial enhancement of the team’s desire and compete level.
Iginla wasn’t the only veteran with a steely performance. Marian Gaborik has been very good this season in the games following his scratches and set up a pair of goals, the second of which he weathered some contact to help create the Jake Muzzin-Anze Kopitar two-on-one. (Heck of a shot, Anze.) Both Muzzin and Kopitar were very good in the win, as was Trevor Lewis, and Dustin Brown, and Jeff Carter. This type of a win required an all-hands-on-deck commitment, one the Kings received from the full contingent of the roster in a performance driven by its veterans. As for Andy Andreoff’s 2:10 of ice time and 34 penalty minutes, I asked him after the game what he had done to receive the two 10-minute misconducts and was told that it wasn’t anything in particular that would’ve warranted the extra discipline in any other game. It appears as though the referees were trying to keep the clamps on an emotional game and made a joint executive decision – is that an oxymoron? – to assess supplemental 10-minute misconducts that effectively removed the sandpapery forward.
So, Matthew Tkachuk. I understand the respect that he received from not backing down from conflict in a game in which he’d be a primary focus. Also, his second period attempted hit on Drew Doughty was not a penalty and the officials made the correct non-call; his feet only left the ice because of his springboarded momentum – not because he jumped to make a hit – and he did not take excess strides before attempting to deliver it. Still, that’s a reckless and wild attempt at a hit, even if it’s within the rules. Much of his borderline play through his first 71 games shouldn’t be glorified. This is a player who elbowed the reigning Norris Trophy winner in the face to draw a two-game suspension and injured Edmonton’s Brandon Davidson with a slew foot in his very first NHL game, causing him to miss 30 games. Tkachuk is an extremely valuable player any fanbase would love as their own and the 19-year-old has wasted no time in etching out his identity as a player, but he’s going to have to tone down his play down a notch or two, such as others have done when faced with added scrutiny from the Department of Player Safety. Meanwhile, once the pugilism and posturing of the first period died down, Los Angeles grabbed a pretty good handle of a game that Iginla described as one with a “playoff-style.”