In the past I have been dismissive of the Kings’ success. I’ve said that their offense doesn’t exactly fill me with wonder, that their defense is a mishmash of mediocre-at-best veterans and Drew Doughty, and that the goaltending provided by Jon Quick — ahem, “Olympian Jon Quick,” as the Kings broadcast was so eager to remind us tonight — hasn’t left me optimistic about The Future of American Goaltending.
It’s games like tonight that highlight why.
Oh yes, on the scoreboard the stomped the everliving crap out of the Sharks. No way to candycoat a 6-2 thrashing like that. Not from a Sharks point of view, at least. You could even go so far as to say that Quick was under heavy fire tonight, facing 47 shots and somehow standing up to all but two of them.
But you could also make the argument that the Kings, as they have so many other times this year, backed into what appears to be a convincing win that should have been anything but.
After tonight the Sharks have a .616 winning percentage, and that ties them for 10th in the league. Their offense has been perfectly fine this season, no question about that. Not great or anything, but above-average by a fraction of a goal a game. And the shots allowed per game is third-best in the league (though that doesn’t even begin to explain why their GAA is so middle-of-the-pack).
But games like tonight are why the Kings will make and then promptly get shuffled out of the postseason. They were outshot 47-20 by a vastly superior team. And so to be all smiles about a 6-2 win is just plain silly. Yeah, it snapped an eight-game winning streak for San Jose and moved the Kings to a three-way tie for fifth in the West (but for that pesky games-in-hand thing). But can Kings fans really walk around acting like getting outshot 47-20 every night is going to get the team anything but a string of losses in the long run?
Don’t get me wrong, the Kings’ finish was lethal tonight… for 3:35 in the first period, during which they scored three goals, 14 seconds in the second, during which they added two more to the cushion, and 13 seconds in the third, at the end of which they added the sixth and final goal. And certainly that’s on Evgeni Nabokov, who coughed up five goals on 16 shots. But the rest of the game was them doing their best duck-and-cover while the Sharks rained pucks on Quick, who stood tall to the task.
Were hockey, or sport in general, equitable on a night-to-night basis rather than spreading its cruel order over the course of a season, the Kings would have lost handily tonight. Instead they won in embarrassing fashion. Were I them, I wouldn’t count on that every night.
There is some justice in the world though: Jack Johnson still finished a minus-1.
New York Rangers 3, Boston 2
If the under for this game was 4.5, you’d have been smart to take it. Boston has now scored two or fewer goals in 22 of its 42 games this year, which is a little crazy. The Rangers have done so in 24 of 42, which is also nuts. So of course the Rangers scored their third goal of the game with 1:29 to go in regulation. And of course it was Chris Higgins, netting his fifth of the year and first since Dec. 9, who did it on a real ugly goal. Also Patrice Bergeron probably broke his hand so that’ll really help that Bruins offense go.