Reality has finally set in that there won’t be a first-ever Kings-Ducks playoff matchup so at least we have an all-California series. And Kings fans are rejoicing after their first playoff series opener at home since 1992 as their boys took care of the San Jose Sharks 2-0. The Kings were outshot 35-20 but it was last year’s star of stars goalie Jonathan Quick who stood out again and he’s now stopped 202 of 212 shots during these playoffs for a fantastic .953%.
The Kings grabbed the early lead on a Slava Voynov goal with just 12.9 seconds left in the first period. And then they had to kill off a poorly called penalty against Anze Kopitar (who’s struggling enough offensively-so at least don’t send him to the box for something he didn’t do!) against one of the most impressive power play units I’ve seen in quite awhile. The Sharks pass that puck around like few other clubs can, finding quality scoring chances that Quick was able to keep out of his net on every occasion tonight. Voynov was also credited with the Kings second goal (midway in the 2nd period) until the replay showed that Mike Richards had re-directed it in and that was all they needed—although a few more would’ve made this one much easier than the final score indicated.
The following are my sounds of the game from the locker rooms:
Kings coach Darryl Sutter who was in an even much less talkative mood than usual, which isn’t easy…Thank God they won the game! :):
Sharks coach Todd McLellan:
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick after franchise record 6th playoff shutout:
Kings center Mike Richards after scoring the 2nd goal on a deflection of a Voynov shot:
Kings captain Dustin Brown with some solid takes on his team’s first game with home ice advantage in 21 years:
Kings Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller who’s relegated to being an analyst for the rest of the playoffs sat down with me after his postgame duties and we broke down game 1 and what might lie ahead?:
One big concern for L.A. is the possible loss of center Jarret Stoll (their best faceoff man) who was hit in the head by San Jose’s Raffi Torres (who’s had his illegal hit issues in the past) late in the second period, and he didn’t play at all in the third. Sutter declined to critique the call, but said the Kings “weren’t resting” Stoll while he sat out and McLellan added: “Clean hit. Not even a charging penalty, in my opinion.” Typical coaches responses which mean nothing compared to Stolly’s health. That could be a huge void in the faceoff circle for the Kings, something they’re probably already strongly thinking about. L.A. defenseman Drew Doughty was also shaken up on the same shift by a hard hit from Patrick Marleau but it didn’t keep him from playing the rest of the game. The question is how will Doughty feel when he wakes up in the morning????
So the Kings have now won 11 straight at home which is just one shy of their all-time club record set by the Gretzky-led team also in 1992. One other stat of note: when winning game one of a playoff series, the Kings have won 10 of those 16.
Game 2 of this series is Thursday night at 7 here at Staples and how the Kings would love to dig a big hole for the Sharks to swim out of. Of course, L.A. knows all too well what losing the first 2 games of a series on the road can mean…they’ve won 5 straight since that happened to them in St. Louis so don’t be suprised if this is still a long series. But I can also honestly say that this could be a short one if the Kings use their wear-down game until the Sharks don’t have many large teeth to bite with. Either way…plenty of playoff fun is ahead and we’ll do it again on Thursday night!