Figured I would expand on some things that didn’t get a lot of coverage in tonight’s game story…
1) Jeff Cowan’s head-first slide into the boards looked very nasty but it seems that he’s OK. He skated off under his own power and went home. He was described as having “upper-body soreness,” which in hockey could mean anything from a toothache to an arm aputation. One team official described him as being “a little woozy” but after the game Marc Crawford said Cowan “wasn’t concussed” and had some soreness in his neck and shoulders.
2) Mathieu Garon is making this whole goalie scenario interesting, isn’t he? Garon lowered his goals-against average to 1.73, and although before Monday he had arguably faced softer teams than Dan Cloutier, the Rangers were a strong test and Garon performed well. Shanahan’s goal was fairly soft, but Garon looked excellent in the third period, when the Kings spent almost the entire final eight minutes killing penalties. Crawford has great admiration and respect for Cloutier, but it will be very interesting to see who gets the call Wednesday against Pittsburgh.
3) The Kings did an outstanding job killing penalties. New York entered the game with 11 power-play goals in its first 10 games. On Monday, they had nine power-play chances and spent more than 16 minutes with the man advantage but came up dry. After the game, Crawford expressed pride in this and said that the ability to kill penalties would allow the Kings to play more aggressively and not fear taking penalties. The Kings have now successfully killed 24 consecutive power plays.
4) Speaking of penalties…the crowd roared with disapproval when Sean Avery got called for diving in the third period, but anyone who saw a replay or watched it on TV knows it was the correct call. Avery got fined $1,000 last season for diving…a penalty he quickly doubled by making derogatory comments about the league’s competition committee. Countdown to the next Avery fine begins in 5, 4, 3… And it’s a shame, because Avery otherwise played a great game. He had a huge goal and a team-high six shots on goal.
5) The Kings tapered off a bit after a brilliant first period, but that’s to be expected. They came back from a long road trip and also practiced Sunday. Their entire focus Monday was to get off to a fast start. The last thing they wanted was for the high-powered Rangers to get a couple early goals and have to fight from behind again. Give them credit for coming out with an inspired effort, even if they did run out of gas near the end. Anze Kopitar was a beast in the first period and was all over the net. He made a great play on his assist to Sopel and he continues to impress.
6) Another disappointing non-sellout, the first time since 1995 that a Rangers game didn’t sell out in L.A. Monday-night games are a tough sell, but the Rangers are usually a strong draw and they hadn’t been here since Dec. 2004. Wednesday’s game SHOULD sell out, because unless the NHL changes its scheduling, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin won’t be here again until 2008-09, but there will probably be unsold tickets.
7) No practice Tuesday. Happy Halloween to all…