Saturday’s game entailed a match-up of the hometown guy against the local hero and the hometown guy won in front of the 11 friends and family he paid to see him. I am speaking of LaBarbera and Luongo. Johnson probably also loved this game since it is against this netminder where he scored his first and only NHL goal. After last night, that now stands at Johnson 2 and Luongo 0.
In fairness, I am making light of the fact that the home team Canucks won most statistical battles but lost in the only place that counts, the scoreboard.
Here is how the commentators described the Kings in the opening period:
“It is the turnovers – Calder and Thornton. ... Real confusion at the Kings’ bench. Thornton waiting at the bench, trying to figure out if he should go off or not. (Ivanans goes off for holding Kesler.) ...Again, it is off of turnovers. Nothing going right for the Kings early on. Defensively, Kings have lots of holes.”
“(The) transition game of the Kings is working very well. (the) young guns of the Kings are very effective. It’s been the goaltending of LaBarbera early on. LaBarbera has been abandoned by his defense.”
The above quotes were easy if you only watched this game on paper. The Kings and more specifically O’Sullivan and Kopitar were schooled in the face-off circle by Ryan Kesler. The latter shadowed the first line to perfection where he won all but two tries in the circle with 88.9% winning percentage. In contrast, Kopitar lost all 11 and O’Sullivan fared no better there with a meager 1 win to 4 losses. Saturday, Kesler essentially proved why Flyers’ former GM, Bobby Clarke, tried to get him to Philadelphia on an offer sheet a scant off-season or so ago.
The Kings won the Canucks by scoring when they had to on Vancouver break downs. Even the league’s second worst penalty kill team managed to make the Canucks ice the puck while on the power play. The home team also never scored on the man advantage.
Early in the second, Thornton was the first opportunistic King who capitalized on a Salo give-away when he scored in what was called a “sloppy play in front of Luongo”. Advantage Kings. I thought during the broadcast they awarded the first NHL point for Purcell. Since that time, in reviewing the game log and with the help of others, there was no point to Purcell. Thanks for the clarification!
The NHL rookie in his third NHL game got both himself and his parents interviewed on Hockey Night in Canada Woo Hoo! (Interesting anecdote was that Purcell’s parents didn’t subscribe to cable television prior to his call-up. They raced to Rogersnet cable to get hooked up to see their son. For the Oilers game, the Purcells had a watch party of 48 to see him in his first NHL game.)
The tenacity of the Kings proved to be the difference. Examples would be Brown hitting the post, staying in the game/play and getting the puck back and making no mistake and scoring. The father-to-be waited for Luongo to commit, and showed tremendous patience when he scored right after that. Advantage Kings again.
As has happened a lot this season, after the Kings were up 3-0, the Canucks answered back with 2 goals in a 1:09. This created a huge momentum swing and life back in the home crowd where Vancouver began shooting from every angle. At the end of two periods, the score was 3-2 and the shot differential was 21 Kings to 33 Vancouver.
As mentioned above, Purcell gave an interview in the second intermission, where he said the following:
“We (the Monarchs) were on a 10 day road trip. Peter Harrold and I waited 10 hours (for their flight out) and arrived in Edmonton at 3 a.m. I didn’t expect any chances to come. (On hitting 2 goal posts) … Next time I’ll shoot for the post.”
In the third period both teams exchanged goals with Frolov’s proving to be the game winner. Other highlights included Calder undressing a few Canucks players and single-handedly nearly scoring on Luongo. Right after, the game callers gave the following sound bite:
“Johnson undressed Edler and has a nifty move with Luongo and nearly scores. Edler might expect that move with Kopitar but not Johnson. He is not supposed to be the one who makes that move. He almost fooled Edler.”
That was a nice kudo for Johnson since he had a tough game and critique in the Flames game a night earlier. The following were the remaining quotes from the guys who called the game:
“Blake sits on the puck and it gets ugly. It is just a strange play and an odd goal for the Kings. Vancouver Canucks much maligned for not making enough shots on goal. 15-20 more than they normally put on goal. Handzus again with good defensive play for L.A. Canucks been finding ways to lose with one win in (their last) four games.”
LaBarbera is taking ownership of the Kings’ net and has the mindset that he won’t be giving that spot away to anyone else without a fight. This is especially good news to me since I have been a LaBarbera proponent the entire year. Here are some quotes from him on his victory:
"For me, it's my first real opportunity to be a No. 1 guy and I've got to take advantage of it," said the 27-year-old LaBarbera. "I know they're going to stick with me and if I keep having games like this consistently, hopefully we can keep on winning."
"I think Roberto is the best guy in the league," said the Kings goalie. "I love watching him play and I watch him as much as I can. But for me it's a big thrill playing in Vancouver. I'm a B.C. kid and I grew up watching the Canucks. Playing here is a big thing for me."
The full article can be read here:
The Kings played strong when they had to. LaBarbera stepped up when his teammates had missed coverage being the strongest penalty killer, defensive wall and nearly scored his first NHL goal when he cleared the puck himself in the last minute of the game. But for putting a little extra something something on that shot, he scores and seals the victory personally.
For those who didn’t get to see the game, watch the highlights here:
There was a pizza commercial with Brodeur and Robitaille. Lucky Luc shows game highlights of all the times he beat Brodeur. The latter then reclines Robitaille’s reclining lounger, his pizza slice goes flying and Brodeur catches it and says, “I saved that one.”
In closing, the Kings have work to do on allowing 46 shots against. That being said, despite being anything but road warriors, they won 2 of 3 on this trip and have something to build on.