What a difference the shootout can make.
Minus the extra point against the Calgary Flames tonight, the Kings’ deficiencies are glaring: Another 0-for on the power play; another goal allowed on the shift after they score; another point lost in the standings.
With the extra point, the glass is half full. Jonathan Quick is masterful and makes one of his best saves of the season count; Jarret Stoll is the most clutch shootout man in the game; the penalty kill looks invincible, having killed 34 straight.
All of these things are true of course, except for the lost point, and such is life for Kings fans at the moment: You must take the good with the bad.
The Kings don’t score much, but there might not be another goalie/blue line unit you’d rather have killing a 4-on-3 penalty in the final minute of overtime. There isn’t another player you’d rather have with the puck on his stick in a shootout than Stoll, and there isn’t another goalie you’d rather have in the shootout than Quick (though we can debate the merits of Johan Hedberg, whose .750 winning percentage is slightly better than Quick’s .741 as the highest among active goalies with at least 10 shootout decisions).
What all that means for the playoffs — which is where all of this has been pointing since Day 1 — remains to be seen.
Some more notes and observations:
Justin Williams suffered an “upper-body injury” as a result of a Robyn Regehr hit at 10:15 of the third period that forced Williams out of the game. The right wing “is not OK” according to head coach Terry Murray and will see a doctor today.
The shootout-winning goal-scorer, Kopitar, wouldn’t budge when I asked him about how much confidence the extra point represented — “every win that you get this time of the year is big,” he said — but you wonder what losing five straight home games this time of the season would have done to the collective psyche in the room.
It sucks to be Calgary right now. They’re 1-3-2 in their last six games and get to face San Jose in two days. While only a point out of the eighth and final playoff spot, the Flames have also played two more games than the Stars and Ducks, the two teams directly ahead of them in the standings. After the Sharks, the Flames will play Edmonton twice, St. Louis and Colorado once, and also Anaheim and Vancouver. Realistically, they probably need 14 of a possible 16 points to make the playoffs.
Stoll scored his 19th goal of the season tonight. If he scores another, the Kings will have six 20-goal scorers, a feat not accomplished since 1992-93 (Donnelly, Granato, Kurri, Millen, Robitaille, Sandstrom).
Stoll is also on pace to set the record for highest shootout percentage in a season.
Murray dismissed the significance of allowing the Olli Jokinen goal after the Kings had scored on the previous shift –a recurring, frustrating phenomenon in these parts. “I don’t count those,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how many times (that happens), it’s just a line change — it’s a simple, fundamental drill that we’ve executed from the first day of Year 1 of training camp. We got spread out. You’re supposed to be nice and tight.”