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:
I’ve accepted an invitation to participate in a live chat, hosted by HockeyPrimeTime.com, during today’s Heritage Classic game between Montreal and Calgary (starts at 3 p.m.). I’m extending the invitation to you – and to make it even easier, you can hop in the room right here, without leaving the comforts of insidesocal.com. The game is going to be televised locally on Versus. Come back at 3 and chat it up:
Justin Williams’ seventh-round shootout goal capped a big day for the veteran winger and gave the Kings two points at the end of a long night in Calgary.
Williams picked up the primary assist on Rob Scuderi’s goal 39 seconds into the game, and on Dustin Brown’s goal at 6:17 of the first period after a Robyn Regehr goal had tied the game at 1. At 11:02 of the second period Williams scored to restore the lead again, at 3-2, before Alex Tanguay’s second goal of the game brought Calgary back at 3-3 in the third period.
Jonathan Quick made 32 saves through 65 minutes. In the shootout, he allowed a pair of quick goals to Rene Bourque and Alex Tanguay, then was credited with five straight saves (with help from a pair of goal posts).
The net result was the Kings’ fifth win in their last six games, a stretch in which they have gained 11 of a possible 12 points. They have hardly been dominant – two of the wins came via the shootout, and the other three came by 1- or 2-goal margins. The Kings were outshot again in Calgary (35-33) and have only outshot two of six opponents during the streak.
But aside from the obvious benefit of gaining points in the Western Conference standings (and oh, by the way, the Kings leapfrogged the Flames into the top eight tonight), the six-game point streak has served an important purpose. It’s removed the sense of urgency to acquire someone from the outside to pump some life into the offense. Not that the offense is firing on all cylinders, but each win makes the Feb. 28 trade deadline seem like a realistic time frame in which to forge a solution.
A few more notes: