Event Horizon: Wings Lose in LA, 4-1

That was like staring into the abyss of boring hockey.

Remember when the Kings wore purple? That was crazy. Then they switched to boring black-and-white. It’s a shame for them, really, because so few teams in professional sports use the color. The Kings could really own it if they wanted to. But instead, they went with the most boring color pattern they possibly could. But I guess the jersey fits the team identity, because damn that game was misery to watch. Like, on my death bed, when most people will say they wish they spent less time at work, I’m going to say that I wish I spent less time watching the LA Kings play Snorlax-hockey.

First Period

It took four minutes for something exciting to happen. The Kings hit the Wings’ blue line with some speed at tried to cross the puck through the slot, but the Wings broke up the play. Had I been watching the game for four minutes, or like, 40 million years? It was so hard to tell. The Kings are a heavy, methodical team that likes to clog up the neutral zone, like hibernating bear. Kopitar caught a flying puck right on Coreau’s doorstep, but it was too hot to handle and he was at a bad angle, anyway.

With a little over ten minutes remaining in the period, Kempe railroaded Daley into the crease, causing a bit of a scuffle between the two squads, and NBC cut away from the shot to advertise golf. Golf. That’s where we were at.

But LA decided to add some excitement shortly thereafter, although it was the bad kind of excitement. Kopitar won a faceoff in the Wings’ zone against Nielsen, threw the puck to his right to Alex Iaffalo, then the puck made its way out to Paul LaDue above the point. He wound up, fired, and about 4 different players were in the way of Coreau tracking the puck. The puck redirected and angled low to Coreau’s right, slipping past the netminder to make it 1-0 Kings.

It was time to see if the Red Wings respond by getting a shot on net, because at that point the Wings had yet to get one. Nyquist eventually got it, but holy cow the Wings were just getting smothered by the Kings’ trap in the neutral zone. But then, there was Green and Mantha.

The Wings finally got a good chance off a slick move by Green to slide the puck between some defenders’ legs on a zone entry, which gave Mantha a bona fide chance on net x2. It was exactly what the Wings needed to get re-engaged with the game. Detroit kept pouring on the pressure from there, with Frk getting another opportunity. They couldn’t find the equalizer, but Svechnikov did draw a slashing penalty against Kyle Clifford.

Unfortunately, the Kings were a wet blanket on the penalty kill as well. Nielsen had a strong shot from a Zetterberg feed, but no dice. LA very nearly got a breakaway attempt, but some Red Wing named Anthony Mantha got on his horse and effectively backchecked to break up the play. A great sign, for sure.

After the Kings killed off the penalty, the ice opened up quite a bit and the game became a little run and gun on both ends. Svechnikov had a great stick lift to break up an LA opportunity, and Nyquist had a great shot that I thought for sure was going in.

Also, at some point in the period Jake Muzzin blocked a Frk slapper with his arm and disappeared into the locker room. After that, the period ended uninterestingly and both teams drank warm milk and went to sleep on the ice.

Score: 1-0 LA
Shots: 7-6 Detroit
TLDR: The game gradually warmed up from absolute zero to freezer burnt chicken, with the Kings claiming the freezer-burnt chicken as the prize.

Second Period

I missed the first minute or so of the period helping with dinner, but when I came back NBC was showing the picks Detroit has gathered in past year and change. It was exciting to see all those picks but then I saw Scott Wilson’s name and thought “waaaaah?” I’d already forgotten he was on the Wings earlier this season. How bad is that? Pretty bad.

Otherwise, the period started as a snoozer again. Presumably because the Kings were able to eat more honey and salmon between periods and recharge themselves for more heavy trap hockey. I joke, but LA knows how to play fast when they want to, and they readily dumped-and-chased.

This eventually resulted in Daley throwing the puck over the glass to get called for Delay of Game. LA mostly just cycled the puck around the edges, but they couldn’t manage a single shot. It wasn’t a sexy penalty kill, but it was a staunch and effective one.

After the PK, the Zetterberg line and the Green pairing hemmed LA in their zone. The Wings had some excellent movement with Bertuzzi mucking it up in front of the net. He did get sent for slashing, but he took Phaneuf with him on a roughing penalty because Bertuzzi isn’t intimidated by an Eastern Island Statue on ice skates.

The Wings mostly played hot potato in their own zone for the first half of the four-on-four because Anze Kopitar put on a fore checking clinic.

Afterwards Tanner Pearson bear-hugged Svech and Frk against the boards while another King cross checked Green in the back for like, 20 seconds straight. It was a terrifying sight, because four Wings were on the screen and only two Kings (but it was Glendening who had all three of those guys on lockdown off-camera, I’m sure.) DeKeyser took exception to Green getting knocked in the back repeatedly, so he set the King to the ice and immediately was called for cross checking. It wasn’t not deserved, but there were at least two other penalties going on in that mess.

For fans who love board play, the penalty kill was probably the most exciting moment of the season for you, because it was basically one giant board battle. No goal, obviously, because the puck doesn’t go in the net when it’s stuck in one giant board battle/ slumber party.

There were some other things that happened at the end of the period, but it was mostly just the two teams throwing themselves into the neutral zone in an exercise in futility, until two minutes before the end when Mantha had a great chance turned aside. Also, Kopitar continued being a fore checking machine. As the period expired, LaDue tried to play pool with Ericsson’s face, so the Red Wings had a power play (high sticking) to look forward to at the start of the third.

Score: 1-0 LA
Shots: 13-11 Detroit
TLDR: Anze Kopitar put on a Selke-worthy show, but Detroit actually kind of won the period everywhere except the scoreboard.

Third Period

The Divine Oracle of Hockey, Jeremy Roenick, warned in the intermission that the Kings might be in trouble by taking the penalty at the end of the second, and indeed they were. Indeed they were. Two Kings got mesmerized by Nielsen carrying the puck into the zone, so the Dane cycled the puck up to Kronwall, who released a pass shot back down low to Nyquist for redirection. The redirection actually went off the post, but Nyquist got his own rebound behind Quick and finished the job.

Detroit kept buzzing and playing with a lot of pride; it was pretty apparent they were pissed at all the losing going round lately. Frans Nielsen eventually killed all the feels though by going to the box for interference. It was looking like a great penalty kill, but Anze Kopitar decided to return the favor for Datsyuk scoring a goal off Quick’s back a few years ago by bouncing a puck off Coreau’s back. It created an awful feeling based on the flow of the game that this was where the game would stand in the end.

LA immediately switched to playing really heavy in the neutral zone once again; some of Detroit’s efforts made it through, but the pace of the game slowed back down to molasses. It made the whole thing pretty gut wrenching to watch, especially so late in the night. Really, it made me hate LA more and more every passing minute. Talk about concrete shoes.

The Wings tried hard and held possession in the Kings zone for a good long while, but nothing came of it, then Toffoli scored a goal with 90 seconds left.  There was a video review, but the goal stood up. Dustin Brown got the empty netter to make it 4-1.

Score: 4-1 LA
Shots: 22-21 LA
TLDR: I’m now in an existential crises because I so desperately want three hours of my life back.

Closing Thoughts

This one was it for me, guys. This one sucked. Staying up until the next morning to watch the Wings get smothered by a glorified trap team is just awful. I really am an optimist about Detroit’s situation, and I’m patient with the process. I look on the bright side, even when it comes to Holland and Blashill, and I enjoy a well-played 1-0 hockey game more than most people. But this one broke me a little.

(Player of the game is Bertuzzi, but I’m really tempted to say Nyquist because he actually had a goal.)