Sunday, November 20, 2005

Kings 4; Avalanche 3

Going into the recently completed three game stretch against Nashville, Vancouver, and Colorado, the conventional wisdom was that if the Kings could take 4 points from those three games, it would go a long way toward establishing their legitimacy. Here we are a week later, and the Kings beat the Canucks and Avs, and should have at least gone to OT with Nashville. It's becoming clear that this is a team that can be competitive every night. They have solid goaltending, a mobile defense corps, and enough talent up front that their third line can dominate at times.

Pavol Demitra registered his first hat-trick as a King with one beautiful goal (a nifty move on a short handed breakaway), one lucky goal (a bad angle shot that went off an Avalanche defender), and a combination of the two (a blocked pass that landed right back on his stick with a wide open corner of the net at which to shoot). Added to that was one of the prettiest goals of the night. After Sean Avery had freed up the puck in the Oilers zone, he headed for the net where Eric Belanger slipped a nice pass right back to him. Avery was stopped on initial shot, but corralled the rebound, and with some nifty stickwork, was able to beat Aebischer to give the Kings their first lead. They're now 9-3 when their opponent scores first.

This team has also shown that they can be completely dominated at times, yet still find a way to answer and find the net. There were stretches last night where the Avs were all over the Kings, and the final shot totals bear that out. But all it takes in hockey is one intercepted pass, one blocked shot, one lucky bounce, and the game can turn that quickly. Kind of reminds of a couple of games we had in Garden Grove, one in which we were outshot 36-11 and won 5-4 in overtime, and another the same season, a semi-final game, in which we were outshot 40-7 (that's not a typo, it was really 40-7) and won 3-2 in overtime. You still have to be able to finish, and this team, with it's 79 goals (tied for second in the West and fourth in the league) can finish.

Three of the next five games figure to be wins against St. Louis and Chicago (twice), with games against Nashville and Detroit thrown in before the Kings head for their first trip to the East Coast. I'd be pretty happy with eight points in those ten games.

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