Game 2, Blues/Kings - Recap: Jackman with another playoff goal!
I missed a chunk of the game last night, but caught a replay courtesy of one of the neighbors this morning. Whoever invented the DVR probably didn't make nearly enough money on it; whoever made it so I could retrieve video from a DVR and watch it on my laptop really didn't make enough money. Whoever made it so wives didn't get pissed when husbands are watching a game at 3am, .... crap, that still hasn't been solved yet.
My 3 Stars of the Game
1. Brian Elliott, STL. 28 saves on 29 shots, survived the storm early, and held the fort so his teammates could get untracked.
2. Barret Jackman, STL. Game-winning goal (the 1st playoff goal of his career).
3. David Perron, STL. 1 assist, and a much better game from him.
Honorable mention (in no particular order): Dustin Brown, LA (PP goal to put the Kings up 1-0, and was generally a thorn in the Blues side all night); Alex Pietrangelo, STL (assist on Berglund's goal, very poised even under pressure); Jonathan Quick, LA (yes, he took the loss - but he was solid throughout the game up until Jackman's wrister); Patrik Berglund, STL (the game-tying goal, but more importantly he was more assertive and more noticeable, especially on defense).
So the series shifts out west, with the Blues up 2-0. How many people called that before the series started?
If you're a Kings fan, you have to feel frustrated after last night. The Kings controlled that game for the first 45 minutes, had the Blues on their heels, and led 1-0 - and then watched as the Blues came roaring back to life and swiped what could have been a series-evening (and momentum-changing) night. If you're a Blues fan, you have to be thrilled right now considering that earlier in this season, it seemed like we'd never beat the Kings again. The scores indicate how close both games have been; it could easily be 2-0 Los Angeles right now with a couple of bounces the other way.
Do the Kings have reason to worry going back home? No ... and yes. The series now shifts to Staples Center, where the Kings were 19-4-1 this season, outscored the opposition 72-43, and won their last 7 (the last 5 were all 1-goal games). Unless it's Game 7, you have no reason to worry until you lose at home. A couple wins at Staples, and this series becomes a best-of-3 and the Kings are the ones riding the momentum and feeling confident. However, it's that exact reason the Kings have reason to be worried: the Blues have all kinds of momentum and confidence right now. They're also incredibly motivated after last season's sweep, and with a 14-9-1 record on the road they're no strangers to picking up W's in the opposition's building.
The Kings got the start they wanted in Game 2; 4 power plays in the first 10 minutes, a 5-on-3, a PP goal, control of the play, a physical presence that had the Blues reeling, ... and they still lost. If the Blues come out charging like that in Game 3, it's going to put the Kings on their heels and just give the Blues even more confidence. If the Blues get the first goal Saturday night, this series may be well on its way to being over faster than anyone expected.
I try not to complain about the officiating, namely because most of the time it's stating the obvious. We all know it sucks, we all swear it's biased against us, and yet we all love to rail on about it as if it's going to magically change something. Last night was a prime time to complain about it - but I won't complain about "they called this, they didn't call that." No, the real problem with the officiating last night was that the referees didn't have control of that game for much of it. Stuff happened all over the ice, and the referees seemed too willing to just let it go too long. I'm all for playoff hockey, letting the players decide the game, and so on - but the referees also have to assert control early on and then keep control from there. In that respect, I thought both Paul Devorski and Dan O'Halloran did a poor job of it. Fortunately for them, both teams settled down and just played hockey in the 3rd period - but the first 2 periods looked more like the inmates running the asylum.
Dustin Brown's hit on Jaden Schwartz, ... just a stupid move. Not even 2 weeks removed from a 2-game suspension for an elbow to Jason Pominville, he misses the head of Schwartz with a flying elbow and instead catches him with the leg extended. Fortunately for Brown, Schwartz wasn't hurt; if Schwartz goes off hurt, we're probably discussing whether Brown gets 2 or 3 games as a repeat offender for a reckless hit. If he connects with the elbow, we're probably talking about whether he comes back in this series at all. Did I think it was worthy of a 5 and a game misconduct? No, but it was clearly reckless. If Schwartz hadn't gotten up, I think it would have been 5 and a game for Brown - and we're talking about how many games he misses.
No, Blues fans - there won't be a review of the play by the league; the still-incompetent Brendan Shanahan has already stated that whether a player is hurt or not is a major factor in whether a suspension is levied and how long it is if one is levied - and since Schwartz wasn't hurt, it's going to be "no blood, no foul."
The Rob Scuderi "flip it into the benches" move, on the other hand, ... what a genious play. It's completely against the spirit of the "delay of game" rule, but the rulebook clearly permits that play - even if intentionally done. It's the playoffs, you take advantage of every little gray area you can. Of course, I expect a change to the rulebook to be made this summer to prevent that exact play ... but, it's either going to be even more hard-coded so that any clear into the players bench from the defensive zone is a penalty (which will make even less sense), or it's going to be a "if it goes into the players bench, the referee shall use discretion to ..." change - which means it's once again in the referee's opinion (which is exactly why we have the current rule - to avoid making referees try to read minds).
-- So ... does Tarasenko get into the lineup on Saturday, or does he sit until someone is hurt?
-- How many Blues fans saw Elliott go down after the collision with Brown and started having flashbacks to Halak's injury last year and Fuhr's injury in 1996?
-- Last night's was the 4th time in the 14 playoff games between these two teams that the final score was 2-1, and the 6th one-goal game. The Blues have won all of them.
-- To Kings fans: do you consider going to Bernier in Game 3, or do you stick with Quick? I'm not saying that Darryl Sutter should make the switch, I'm simply saying "if you can call that shot, what do you do?"
-- At least the late start on Saturday night won't screw with work for most Blues fans. Monday night, especially if it goes to OT and that goes deep into the night?
-- So Jackman averages about 3 goals a year (23 in 644 regular season games), and he gets his 1st playoff goal in his 23rd playoff game. Sounds about right. If anything, he's early - but what Blues fans are going to complain about that?
-- Your current league leader in penalty minutes in the playoffs: that noted instigator and all-around pest, Marty Reasoner of the New York Islanders with 17.
-- Eleven guys have 7 or more shots in the playoffs right now; combined, they've got 4 goals and 1 assist on 94 shots.
Thoughts on the other games last night:
-- Ottawa vs. Montreal: The Senators took the opening game, showing good poise after going down 2-1 on the road. 50 shots against, though? Craig Anderson may be playing fantastic, but if he faces that much rubber in the rest of the games this series he's probably not going to save 96% of them. Brandon Prust nailed for diving last night; I think that's the 3rd time this year (he had a pair in the regular season).
On the Eric Gryba hit on Lars Eller: devastating injury to Eller, who I would be shocked to see back at any point in the playoffs. Reminded me of when Kevin Stevens did a face-plant into the ice in the '93 playoffs. (If you want to get grossed out, go find stories on the surgeries performed on Stevens had to do to fix the damage.) I know the league has a hearing for Gryba this morning, and I've seen people say "there was a headshot" and/or "it was a clear headshot" - but from one camera angle at ice-level looking up ice behind the Montreal net, I thought it was pretty clear Gryba didn't make contact at all with Eller's head. Unfortunate play, but I just don't see it being worthy of a suspension. (Read: Shanahan will probably sit Gryba for 2-3 games just to send a message / look like he's doing something; don't ask him about that Nash elbow into the back of Kopecky's head, though.)
-- Washington vs. NY Rangers - Kind of a weird game. The Rangers didn't really control the 1st, but led 1-0 going into the break; the Capitals didn't really control the 2nd or the 3rd, but took advantage of a Rangers lull and potted 3 goals in the 2nd. The latter is why I have the Caps winning this series - and it's also why if the Rangers go out early, I won't be surprised if John Tortorella gets canned at the end of the season.
-- Anaheim vs. Detroit: A tale of 2 games last night. Detroit looked as good in the first 2 periods as they did bad through much of Game 1 - and then the Ducks roared back to send the game to OT ... which should remind the Red Wings that they're not good enough to just put it on cruise control like they could in prior years. The Red Wings go back home even, but home hasn't been a great advantage (13-7-4) - and the Ducks have been pretty good on the road (14-5-5).