Friday, November 18, 2005

Kings 5; Canucks 4

That was a little nerve-wracking, wasn't it. You'd like to think that if you have a four goal lead with 12 or so minutes to go that you'll be able to hang on, and I guess they did, so I shouldn't be worried. But the Kings are going to need to finish a little better in games where they have a lead.

They almost let this one get away from the early when they had power play after power play without scoring. When you get four PP's in the early going, you know the game isn't going to be called even the rest of the way, so you dig a hole for yourself. But Visnovsky really scored a great goal on the two man advantage, completely taking advantage of the screen on Cloutier. Just I when I thought they were going to relax after getting that one, Lubo added another on the same power play for a 2-0 lead. Cammy scored an absolutely beautiful goal for the 3-0 lead with a really nifty move in the slot.

That's when things started to go south. After killing a two man advantage, the Kings lost any momentum and the Canucks took over. It carried over into the third period, but just as quickly as the Canucks took momentum, the Kings came back with two goals in 16 seconds. The Kings were somehow able to withstand a furious attack in the last ten minutes as the Canucks got back to within one goal.

After the loss to Nasville, and with the Colorado game coming up, this was really a game the Kings needed to win, and despite some spotty play at times, they got it done. Nice night for the CPA line with about another 10 points. The Belanger line was flying all over the ice again. The Kings could use a little production out of the Roenick line. And it's not just him, but Cammy and Brown need to pick up the offense a little bit at even strength. The other lines are playing so well, though, that I'm not worried about them at this point.

Two more points closer to a playoff spot. Let's go get Colorado.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Nice yield from the farm

The Angels place three players on the Arizona Fall League All-Star Team. To no one's surprise, the Surprize Scorpions entire infield made the team, including Angels farmhands Brandon Wood with a .307/.375/.711 line and a league record 14 home runs (he tied last season's leading total of 8 within the first six games, Howie Kendrick (.380/.405/.603 with 5 homers and 10 doubles), and Kendry Morales (.380/.444/.598). Wouldn't have figured that Morales would outslug Kendrick with the same batting average, but whatever. Both Wood and Morales showed some decent plate patience, and I'm sure there's some things in that Kendrick line that get Rob all riled up. Jered Weaver was less than impressive, going 1-3 with a 5.47 ERA, but he did strike out 35 in just under 25 innings. This isn't a pitchers' league, and the ball carries well out there if you're a fly ball pitcher, which Weaver is at this point. He'll need to work on a sinker of some sort to even those numbers out.

Fairly successful Fall for these guys, as they pretty much did everything as expected. Let's hope the Angels don't get stupid. These guys should be in the starting lineup in a couple of years.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Well, that was fun. Kings 8; Blue Jackets 2

This one was pretty much over a few minutes after it started. The Kings got three goals in the first five minutes and they didn't stop there. I guess they learned their lesson after opening day. Couple of hat tricks between Frolov and Conroy, Cammy with a sniper like goal from the slot, and for the second straight game, Belanger was rewarded for his hard work with another goal. He's been the unsung hero for this team so far.

Garon looked solid again, starting in place of LaBarbera who left to attend to faily business.

I'm starting to get a pretty good feeling about this team. They're beating the teams they need to beat, minus the occasional Phoenix. And they don't seem to be doing because there's a sense of urgency. They're doing it just because they're flat out better. They don't outplay their opponents for 60 minutes, but nobody does. What they do is finish. In years past, they've generated plenty of opportunities, but unless Ziggy was at the end of it, the puck probably wasn't going in the net. They now have a line with three guys who can finish, and they have finishers on the other lines as well, not including the Giuliano, Cowan, Parros line, and two of those guys are playing because of injuries to Robitaille and Armstrong, who can both score. For one of the first times in recent memory, the defense is very solid. I really like the pairings, but the key is that they are all mobile. When Miller and Norstrom are your worst skaters along the blue line, you have a pretty mobile defense corps.

This is a Kings team that can play and skate with anyone, and it's the first time it's really been that way since the second half of the 2000-2001 season. Because of this, they may be able to get by with a fairly mediocre power play, though I would imagine that this unit will pick it up as they become more familiar with one another. As we get further into the season and the players adjust to the way the games are being called, special teams may take on a little less importance. And their PK, which has been very good so far, allows them to be a little more agressive at even strength.

We're only 18 games in, and there's a lot of season left, but so far, so good.