It’s on this kind of night that every single player goes home, no matter if he played well or not, and hides his head in his hands just before bed, embarrassed and ashamed at the collective effort displayed. Anyone who’s played competitive sports understands that when you get slapped *this* badly and it’s entirely the fault of your team and not just the other team’s dominance, the night after is just about the worst time imaginable as you consider what you really should have done as a group.
Were there more than three or four players who put forth a solid effort on this evening? Oh, let’s not play with words here, were there many at all who put forth *any* effort? How can we possibly be looking to the playoffs when we get smacked all over the ice by a team below us in the standings? Shouldn’t we be at least competitive? Was there a smidgen of playoff hockey in our display? And finally, do you get the growing unpleasant feeling in the pit of your stomach that there are too many questions that have to be answered after a game like that?
And no falling on the excuses of sickness. Every team in this league has to get by on nights when players are struggling or out with injury. Before we take out the excuse card, let’s first take a look at how far the LA Kings have come this year despite losing all their best players. They may not have made the playoffs, but they sure as heck have put in an admirable showing.
Theo: If, in the first five minutes, he’d managed to make those saves that we’re used to seeing, perhaps this doesn’t get out of hand. Perhaps the team gathers itself. Now, I’m not laying blame, because in reality he was left out to dry, but let’s be honest here and say that we expect him to make those saves on most nights. The second goal, while still an in-close shot, went between the wickets. And let’s just not talk about that fifth goal – the one that Pedneault said was so perfect Theo had no chance. It went between his arm and his body, ergo saveable. No, the game is not on his shoulders at all, but he certainly didn’t have a banner night. B-
Garon: One solid period. No complaints and a couple of nice saves in traffic. B+
Dykhuis: And here, one of the few bright spots – and what does it say when we can look at our AHL call-up and call him a bright spot. He was hardly flawless, but in his 17-plus minutes of ice time, he was darn good, way above what we should realistically expect from a #7/8 guy. B+
Rivet: Awful, simply awful. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him make so many poor decisions, give so many pucks away, and most of all lose that many one-on-one battles. He was sick, not stupid, yet he played more like the latter at times. D
Brisebois: Putrid. His worst game all year by a country mile. Breeze-By was back in full form with the giveaways and the poor plays and poor play selection. Anyone take the time to count the number of passes that frittered off the heel of his stick? He had a poor night the previous night, he says. Guess what, everyone has ‘em. D-
Markov: Another bright point when you consider that he was paired with Breezy most of the night and while the latter earned himself a fat -3, Markov was even. He wasn’t great, and certainly not a stalwart as he can be, but he was solid enough and did most things right. B
Souray: Wrist still hurting, is it? A couple of head-scratching mental errors combined with the falling-off-the-heel-of-the-stick syndrome in passing made this one a real struggle. In his case, thank the Forum Gods that he’s got another two games to fine something that passes for being in form. C-
Komisarek: He finished as a plus. Now, I could just leave it there and let that stat speak for itself, but let’s look a little more. He played a consistent shift, over 16 minutes of ice time; he made laser sharp passes – the only defender who was able to do that; he’s starting to get more proactive with his plays and looked confident out there for almost every moment. In other words, he looked like an NHL defender and one who deserves playoff ice time. B+
Sundstrom: An adequate game, though he played barely over eleven minutes. He even used the body a little on this night and was one of about five guys that won battles along the boards. B
Ward: On a night when most of the rest of his teammates went into hibernation, Wardo brought out his best and worked his rear off all night. He was rewarded with a richly earned goal and his solid two-way play was a standard that only one other forward met. A-
Dowd: Thank you. Thank you for showing up and making the rest of the team look really bad as you worked every shift. He’s not a big hitter, but positionally he’s fabulous and on this night he read poor DiPietro like some used paperback novel written by a third-rate hack. Can someone please tell Bob Gainey to find a few more like the ones he’s picked up? Langdon, Begin and Dowd are magic. (We’ll ignore the *other* for now.) A
Kovalev: Speak of the Devil. It’s time to stop playing the Ranger game, at the very least. If I have to see another lazy penalty where he grabs or hooks someone from behind because he doesn’t want to take an extra stride, I might make my way to
Bulis: He started off fairly well but seemed to drizzle towards the end. Honestly, I didn’t notice him much this game, and that’s not a great thing since someone with speed should be making their presence felt. C-
Ribeiro: Can someone please check the mail? Apparently Ribs didn’t get the memo that the season lasts 82 games. Perhaps he’s thinking of how good he’d look on the beaches of
Ryder: He started well, at least in terms of getting his shot off, though tonight he missed the net continually. At least, in his case, he still worked from beginning to end, and that’s something precious few could say after this one. C+
Perreault: If there are two less defensively aware wingers than Perreault and Zednik, I’d sure like to see them. Yanic the Great was everything his name says and more…at least when it comes to modelling that mullet. He managed to attain the lofty -2 in barely over eleven minutes, which is no small feat for a mullet that size. From hot streak back to floundering fish in just over a week, and all without giving any effort. He should write books. F
Zednik: There was a shift, in the third, when he hustled like there was no tomorrow. I’m sure that occurred immediately after his coach tore him a new orifice. Once, other than that, he tried to break through the defence with something approximating offence, but that was it on this night. Other than that, he was abysmal defensively, atrocious offensively and glued to the bench for most of the third. Perhaps against Philly he should watch from the press box; anything to light a fire under him. D-
Koivu: There’s plenty of frustration evident in his game as well and he didn’t have a good night at all. There were a couple of shifts where he worked his butt off and made something happen, but again, it was few and far between and when you’re ostensibly the offensive catalyst, your job is to do something offensively. I loved when he dogged through two defenders and still managed to get the puck out in front of the goal, but that has to happen regularly. C-
Julien: You DO know you can call a time-out, don’t you? Perhaps after the second goal you should have halted things, given them a moment to focus and to get back to playing hockey rather than running in circles like a bunch of mismatched dancers on ice.
PP/PK: Neither was great, though at least the PK was somewhat decent at times. The PP in particular is going to need a boost if they’re to get anywhere in the playoffs. C-
Team: Allow me to guffaw. What team. F
We have two games left, one against the Flyers and the other against the Sabres and we’d better find something to get things righted or we’re going to be golfing pretty quickly. At this moment there are so many problems this team has that it’s almost scary. Even if we lose both of the next two games, it’s absolutely critical that we play solid hockey. If the team can make it to The Show having at least played a string of solid minutes, the playoff fever should help lift them to a respectable level, but if we go into those playoffs playing like this…
And so we have Philly in
And I can’t believe I watched that disaster from beginning to end; I guess I’m a sucker for punishment.
A Concerned Fan