CaliSports News

Kings Beat Florida 3-1 But May Have Lost Lewis

*(Featured Photo by AP/Lynne Sladky)

After the debacle of a game against the Nashville Predators where the Los Angeles Kings got embarrassed 5-0, the Kings have bounced back with 3 wins in a row, and 6 victories in the last 8 games, defeating the Florida Panthers 3-1 in the first game of the 7 game, eastern road trip. But the victory may have come with a price.

With only minutes to play left in the game, and the Kings with a solid lead, the “Unsung Hero” of LA, Trevor Lewis was rocked with a hit by Florida’s Jared McCann with such speed and force that Lewis landed into the boards while twisted in mid-air so horrifically that I actually felt ill from witnessing it. In obvious pain, Lewis first laid still on the ice but then started to turn back and forth in complete discomfort. After a few minutes with the Kings’ trainer helping him out, and his teammates around him, Lewis was able to get back to his feet but had to be escorted to the back. Props to the Panther fans that clapped and cheered for him when he got up, but the part that really got to me, was how all four of Lewis’ on the ice teammates, followed and helped escort him to the bench. That just shows right there how loved and respected Trevor Lewis is to his team.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Afterwards, interim LA Kings’ Insider Josh Cooper was able to get (somewhat of) an update on Lewis’ condition from head coach John Stevens,

“Don’t know yet. I think he’s going to be fine. We’re not sure. Kind of a scary looking play there but hopefully, he’s fine. Important guy.”

Despite the force of the hit and the brutal visual of it (that will probably haunt my dreams tonight), it was a completely legal check by McCann. Lewis had possession of the puck and the hit was shoulder to shoulder, so don’t expect any disciplinary review by the NHL. If the hit had been on the open ice, Lewis would have landed on the ice hard, but he would have been okay. The nasty part was how hard he hit the boards without being able to brace himself in time. Hopefully, Lewis is only shaken up by the incident and isn’t seriously hurt. Our thoughts are with him.

 

(Photo: Robert Mayer, USA TODAY Sports)

Now back to the game. Jonathan Quick got the nod in net, (in a move that I was happy that Stevens had made, by saving the red-hot Darcy Kuemper for tonight’s game against the NHL leading Tampa Bay Lightning). Quick, who does have a great career record against the lowly Panthers, recently has been 1-7 0 with a .874 save percentage in his last 8 games played, but with no disrespect to Florida, this was the perfect game for Stevens to start Quick in to help him push through his current woes, and get him back to his elite form. And elite he was. After some sloppy defensive play by the Kings to start the game, the Panthers were swarming the Kings’ net with of fury (not Fists of .. or Nick Fury), but Quick was there, laser-focused, making some huge #VintageQuick type saves to keep the Kings in it. You can just tell that Quick was going to have a good night after that.

Sadly, Kyle Clifford kept up his current streak of taking silly penalties, after getting called for holding on McCann at 9:55. It was a strange move by ‘Cliffy’ as he is a veteran now, and knows better. It ended up costing the team when defenseman Aaron Ekblad scored on the power-play at 11:32 after the puck took a weird bounce behind the net and right on to Ekblad’s stick, therefore fooling Quick and forcing (the returned from injury) Alec Martinez to drop down and try to block the shot, but Ekblad raised it to the unprotected net for the goal. 1-0 Florida.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

In the second period, in an “Oh Hockey Gods, you guys really kill me sometimes” moment, Nick Shore, who hasn’t showed any offensive prowess at the NHL level, scored a beauty of a top corner wrist shot after “razzle and dazzling” past a Florida defender, for his 4th goal of the season at 3:09 to make it 1-1. Shore, who had been penciled (hey remember pencils!) in for tonight’s game over the healthy scratched Mike Amadio, (which I wasn’t happy about), received the puck off a sweet pass by Andy Andreoff, (yes I said Andy Andreoff!), who got the puck from Derek Forbort after he kept the puck in the offensive zone when Florida tried to clear it.

 

Around the 14 minute mark, Florida was all over the Kings’ and almost took the lead TWICE when Evgenii Dadonov had an open net to shoot at but hit the post instead. Seconds later Florida had almost the exact same scenario happen again with the same result of not scoring but this time Martinez, (who for a guy who just missed two games because of an injury, was really throwing his body around to block shots all night, and we LOVE him for it!), may or may not have deflected the puck with his skate towards the post. That gave the Kings an opportunity to come back, and they did when Jonny Brodzinski scored at 16:03 to give the Kings’ the 2-1 lead. Derek Forbort received another assist after passing the puck to ‘Brodz” but either the pass was poor, or the puck hit a rough patch of bad ice as it started bouncing everywhere. ‘Brodz’ did his best to control the puck but he had his back to the net. With nothing to lose, he backhanded the puck for a shot and it got deflected into the net after bouncing off Panther Denis Malgin. (It was the type of goal that would’ve made my Pee-Wee level coach Chris Lowry be proud of! “Just get that puck to the net. You never know what could happen, so just get it to the net,” he would say and teach us.) It was Brodzinski’s 3rd goal of the season. Sidenote – Shore was helping out as well by getting to the crease in hopes of screening the goalie Harri Sateri or be ready for any rebounds. (Despite my complaints of Shore getting the nod in this game over Amadio, I have to give credit where credit is due. Shore played one hell of a game and had great chemistry with line-mates Brodzinski and Andreoff. There I said it).

And then before I even had a chance to sit down and watch the 3rd period, the Kings scored just :25 seconds into the new period when Anze Kopitar tipped in an expert pass by Alex Iafallo (who had been hustling all night, just hungry (not like the wolf) all night for a goal), for his 22nd goal of the year to make it 3-1. Forbort received yet another assist (3 total in the game) when he got the puck to Iafallo on the rush. The (24-year-old) rookie held on to the puck before making a pass that was so perfect and precise, the Kings’ Captain didn’t really have to do anything except keep his blade on the ice and allow the puck to bounce off of his stick and into the net for the goal. Whether on purpose or not, it was quite impressive.

It was a complete team effort that achieved this 3-1 victory that saw the Kings gel smoothly (besides the first 5 minutes or so of the game where they were sloppy) and rolls all four lines and three defensive pairings all night and not misses a beat. Kudos to the whole team for working hard and together to earn these much needed two points.

If I had to nitpick something, it would be about Tyler Toffoli, whose slumps just continues on. He isn’t playing completely terrible, (he had 3 shots on net), but he is off his game and the longer this scoring slump continues, (he hasn’t scored a goal since January 6th against Nashville), the more it is going to play with his mind and affect his game and confidence, (which I’m sure is already poor). Toffoli is only a major goal or two away from breaking this slide, but it is concerning that he is on the top line with ‘Kopi” and Iafallo, and while they are gaining momentum and getting points, Toffoli is struggling too. Hopefully, he can get himself out of this funk soon.

As mentioned above, the Kings next play the Lightning off the end of a ‘state of Florida’ back to back, in a game that I’m sure (or hope) is going to be a war. Of course the Panthers are nowhere near the elite level the Lightning are on, but if the Kings can roll all four lines like they did in this game, stay out of the penalty box, (and yeah I’m talking to you ‘Cliffy’), and get some more super strong goaltending from Kuemper, dog nag it, the Kings just might have a chance to steal a game away, or at the very least gain a single point against the Bolts.

But most importantly of all, hopefully, Trevor Lewis is okay. Please Hockey Gods, let him be okay.

Until then my friends.

I am JD Stylz and I am out of here!

GO KINGS GO!!!

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