Several abbreviated thoughts on the Kings’ 6-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night:
-So, there were several things expected and several developments that proceeded quite unexpectedly at Nationwide Arena Saturday night. Jonathan Quick and Sergei Bobrovsky entered the night with save percentages of .950 and .946, so I’m not sure if anyone in the building was expecting a 10-goal game. On the other hand, the Kings have relied on a potent offense to open the season, and the Blue Jackets are among a select number of teams that can boast four lines that attack and come at teams in waves, so the propensity for a spike in scoring chances wasn’t entirely unforeseeable. In the first period, those chances found the back of the net with regularity. The Law of Averages ensured that Columbus’ traditionally dynamic power play would spring back to life after a moribund 0-for-18 stretch, and surely, 45 seconds into their first power play of the night, it did, though on a rush play and not as the result of any extended pressure or diagrammed quality look. After that early goal, Los Angeles shut the door on the remaining two power plays, a significant influence in the end result.
-This game was won (again) on the backs of many of the team’s top players, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, and yes, let’s throw Jake Muzzin in there as well. The sorcery of his mystical Horse Piece continues; the China Games MVP and preseason standout now has two goals and eight points in seven games this season. He showed excellent patience in picking and hitting his spot through traffic to tie the game early in the second period, and after the game was mentioned by John Stevens – not surprisingly, for those who speak regularly with coaches and players – as one of the “leaders” who provided “big efforts” in the win. His battling and strong checking deep in his own zone were also significant influences on the team’s improved play as the game progressed. He has two goals, eight points and a plus-four rating in seven games, and is yet again well in the black possession-wise. And even though there was a surplus of higher-grade opportunities against in this game, the top-four contingent of Muzzin, Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort and Alec Martinez all logged hard minutes against a team that attacks and forechecks hard, and has a good lacing of heaviness to their balanced scoring and mobile defense. Transition through the first half of the game was executed at a breakneck speed, and once Los Angeles did a better job of preventing David Savard and the other defenders from joining the rush, they settled into the game quite nicely. The game was almost like an abbreviated version of the Kings-Blackhawks series from 2014. There was offense, excellent pace and quick transition, and a raised offensive output more representative of the listed factors than any concentrated defensive deficiency.
-What more is there to say about Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown? Their WUWTK paragraphs are getting as repetitive as the 2012-13 Hey This Jake Muzzin Could Actually Be Really Good impressions. And as impressive as Columbus’ scoring depth is, there was no answer for the power attack of Brown and Kopitar, and Alex Iafallo never giving up on any puck and willingness to go to battle along the boards. He’s a friggin’ bloodhound on the puck.
-It means nothing, but for Kings fans still irked by Mike Milbury’s comments (LAKI Official Statement: Let it Go), there will be reading more gratifying in the coming days than Boys’ Life and Nuns’ Life, and with greater depth than the Famous Jewish Sports Legends leaflet. The Kings are in the center of the hockey (media) universe, and they’re 6-0-1. Expect interesting stories from a number of outlets on Rob Blake, John Stevens, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty in the coming days.
-Lead photo via Jamie Sabau/NHLI