LA Kings vs. New Jersey Devils
June 6, 2012, by Homme de Sept-Îles
NewLa Musings and In-Game Scribbles
My English is as good as yours, I just write these in a stream-of-consciousness mode that I insist excuses me from small things like rules of grammar or general etiquette. Let’s call it conversational English, hopped up on beans. You know what kind of beans (no, Carl Mellesmoen, not the magic ones).
STANLEY CUP FINALS
Los Angeles Kings
New Jersey Devils
Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Game Four. LA leads 3 games to none
Missed it? Musings capture the game in writing. A written transcript typed during the game, posted and edited about thirty minutes afterward. Based on the RDS French telecast of the Montreal Canadiens game, Musings take about 23 minutes to read. More detailed than an article, fresher than a looping highlight and good with morning coffee. Or late-night coffee-lua. A unique way to re-experience the game.
click here to expand post (it looks prettier)
Teams have come back from 3-0 down to win series three times in NHL history, once in the finals. The 1942 Maple Leafs reversed Wing fortunes on the strength of a letter from a little girl who wrote in to the team to say she believed they could win. So goes the legend and so went the Leafs.
The Islanders reversed Penguin fortunes in 1975 and you may recall the recent Flyer feat under Jack Laviolette.
Mathieu Darche is a pleasure to see at the big desk alongside Mario Tremblay and Alain Crete. It’s the jockocracy at work but Darche is interesting; other than perhaps Jeff Halpern, Darche is one of the most iconoclastic players in recent Hab history. Seated between them is the cactus.
Alain references the Leaf comeback and reminds us several key who was who figures back then. He ends with “and Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany”. That he was.
Ce n’est pas facile.
And it’s been a roiling 24 hours since Michel Therrien was named Hab head coach. It’s a mistake. But the team may win despite it. Or in some small part, because of it. By September, we’ll all be on board (well, high nineties, say) and optimists for at least a week.
Maybe he’s changed. Maybe the assistants will be enough. Maybe a big trade. Maybe Price will win the Hart. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Stanley Cups aren’t won on maybes. Baby.
My Montreal panellists, mes filiales are so far silent, but one. Mister Fancy, however, has been clear that the team’s glory days are long behind them; having ended in the seventies. Hey, the team was the third-best team through the eighties. But.
Here in LA, an over-drummed song, dimmed lights and an amazing array of lit shakeables surround blue-lit then green-lit ice. If you’re going to win, do it now. Put us out of our misery. End winter. Let the CFL season begin!
Or would you like a game seven?
The camera closes on a colossal Stanley Cup logo (the 2012 logo) and the crowd is chanting something. Let me guess. We want the Cup?
The Devils make their way to the surface. They’ve been good and very good. And two OT wins could have gone the other way. The visitors could still win two or three games.
But they’ll need an old champion to reach back in time. And for one miracle night (ok, four), he’ll need to be resolute capital letters. The unmirth of Martin. It’s been done before.
Broda. Plante. Hall. Forty-year old goalies were once to be feared. Ce soir?
Some military sot, looking too tight, too starched; stands alongside a photoshopped woman in too much makeup. I mute the television during a non-commercial for the first time in the finals. The anthems belong elsewhere. Perhaps in democracy class.
And why do military figures have a seeming ownership of flag ceremonies? Creepy.
If you can’t fight for your country on the front lines, don’t send anyone in.
I imagine DeBoer skating in the slot in front of Brodeur. Suit. High gloves, black. No helmet. Shiny pate.
Dan O’Rourke and Chris Rooney are the refs.
DeBoer wears his mild Bird expression, glances up and then licks his lips. Sutter is ready for the trophy.
Will we see Kopitar crash fences, bull stick in hands? Or will we see what we’re seeing now? Short passes and careful bubbles …
Likely the latter.
Zubrus registers the first shot. From the middle of the blue, he cuts right, receives the drop pass and fires from right to left, about forty feet out. Easily seen and handled by Quick.
The crowd is subdued for some moments but the organist reels them in with a go-Kings-go litany. The Phantom of the Opera echo is appreciated. We’re in Socal, after all.
A loss tonight means a Stanley Cup for LA. Two minutes gone. Yes, I’m still an Eastern Conference fella.
Greene retrieves and Nolan leans and then falls across Greene into the end boards, both sliding eight, nine, ten feet. Ice warms and glistens under them.
Sutter frowns like Sam the Eagle, suited arms folded, the charcoal wrinkles broad and clean. He remains well-respected in Calgary, on the whole.
Parise is called. Zajac removes his mouthguard to share a word. But the captain is in the box and he has no tart words, no outraged body tics. It’s one of the reasons he’s captain.
First incursion. Pass across the blue. Willie Mitchell winds fully and fires low at about three-quarter velocity; placing it. But Martin sops it up and then hears a few words of explanation from an official. Perhaps the goalie complained about traffic.
One oh nine and the Kings are in again.
Carter cuts and veers from the deep left and the cage is off even as the six-four Carter cuts into Brodeur’s crease.
Faceoff to the goalie’s left. We hear a brief three-time Marty chant.
King fans keep their derision brief and scripted. Unlike Madison’s monsters.
Brodeur traps a dangerous Martinez slapper, the puck rising three feet after a toe save (yes, they still have those) and the old goaler gloving it neatly in mid-air.
Old goaler. Yes, another older term.
Just over five gone and the Devils have kilt da penallee.
Three, deep right. Zajac, Kovalchuk and Parise. Around the net. Whistle. Stoll. Hooking. Sutter looks confused as George Junior for a moment; moves the acceptance and then to a belligerent Gordie near-snarl.
Regardless, Devils power.
Sagement means wisely. And Pierre’s compliments are worth it. A King earns one and the Devils need to reset.
Quick is out of the net and mildly mishandles it. He’s back in the net faster than most and low, a turret hunkering bob and weave, always searching, always spotting. He’s one of the top five athletes in net. In the NHL.
Another LA penalty. Tripping. Booing. Advertising.
The Kings are playing with fire again remarks Houde, a habit Sutter wanted to avoid. Kovalchuk handles from the left point his shot-pass into the right corner and the Kings are able to moves it out moments later.
Sykora appears. Point blank. Quick. The glove. The leg. Mercury.
It’s his first great save of the series. Brodeur has zero. There just haven’t been very many mistakes defensively and not many shots. Last game saw Devils finish with a 22-21 advantage, for example.
Elias’ shot is blocked. Now he’s on the right side, at the hash and handles briefly.
Greene on the blue. They work the perimeter. Around. To the hydrant. Parise jams. And Quick has it low. He’s been consistently in place. Makes it look easier than it is.
A spectacular save might be bad positioning as much as great timing and athletics.
Quick never lets us find out. He’s always in the way.
Great. Therrien will be interviewed at the break. A brief clip showing him with Bergevin at the press conference reminds me of one of perhaps a dozen reasons he isn’t the right fit. His sense of his own intelligence is out of proportion.
He’s an arrogant man. And beyond what might be needed to win. I don’t subscribe to that school of thinking, regardless. Humanity and decency go much further. Check Béliveau.
Ten Cups, if you were wondering.
Coupled with talent, sure.
Another penalty handled by the Kings. Again. This penalty kill has been good. Their 92.8 percentage ranks first amongst the 16 playoff teams. Their 87.0 regular season rate was fourth. Devils and Vos Canadiens were first and second at 89.6 and 88.6, respectively.
On the road, a first period tie is a victory for the home team. Devils have seven minutes to nail the first and, with zest, the second. Either is unlikely. The Kings are playing some of the best positional hockey you’ll see. They have St. Louis’ poise and size and they have Detroit’s puck care. That’s not even fair as the Blues were better this season in both giveaways and takeaways. Their demise was as surprising to some as the Kings’ ascension. To some.
Parise is shown in a red hoodie, smiling and offering a diplomatic answer. Devils don’t always make good free agents but his name will be bandied about. They’re suited to a style, the New Jersey brand as managed by Lou Lamoriello. Many aren’t able to be as effective outside that system. We have two such examples; Gomez and Gionta. Brodeur would be another but we’ll likely never find out. Nothing wrong with it; the Devils find the fit for their system.
Kings pressure. Left point shot. Houde’s voice tremors. Now a right point shot that Brodeur misses. Off the post. A red light flashes briefly on the ice and then winks out.
As a slow flasher rotates in one of my inner rinks, I consider turning points. Then I consider the games deficit. I resume chronicling the crowning.
Two oh three. Scuderi. Off Ponikarovsky. Now a long Devil puck goes up and out of play.
We’re reminded that some important racing event is coming up. Tires stink.
One forty. Mike Richards retrieves and is sandwiched behind his net. But, work done, the puck is gone and Richards is left alone.
Still getting used to Tallinder as a Devil.
Kopitar is down the middle. Volchenkov holds the stripe. And the stick high and body around move fails. Away from the play Bryce Salvador pushes a King to the ice. And he’s called. It was more of a mash.
Faceoff to Brodeur’s left.
Won by Henrique. He loses his stick. Kings pounce. Left point. Henrique remains stickless. Tries shoving folks. Doughty. Across. Right point, Kopitar. And a shot off the post. Second post.
Kopitar across for Richards after a reset.
Another close in play and Brodeur is low and in position. Not flopping. Not fearful. He’s better tonight. Posts and all.
Devils led 8-7.
Devils 0, Kings 0
I was asked last game whether I would muse this season. Considering the bench boss. I told my living room affiliate I would. But who knows what I might sound like.
Yeah. We all know what I sound like nowadays.
Hey. I never promised I’d be nice.
I’ve been quite nice during these Finals, haven’t I? Is there a minor Nobel for avuncular den decorum?
Don’t expect me to join the bayonet parade anytime soon.
I growl at the TV for the first time in weeks. Just prepping for whatever vapidity Therrien might share. Alain congratulates him.
Alain asks about the two Randys.
Therrien is still jubilant. It has to be galling for Mario. Or Guy. Or Gaston. Or somebody. I’m not the only one. Am I? Am I?
It’s interesting that Therrien maintains his Ante-Chambre demeanour to a degree.
He’s very conversational.
He won with a Montreal team that was undermanned in 02. One series. Crawford won with a stacked team. Hartley with an inherited team. But. There’s much more to it. All three aren’t hockey technicians. Modernity demands it. The tenor of today’s NHL demands it.
There are better, younger coaches out there. Therrien will be demanding. Will that work with today’s player? How much hotter will he be this time around? Cooler?
He’s the wrong guy. And I shake my head as he shifts to his reassuring tones, voice modulation off-putting more than settling. I can’t stop shaking my head. This is wrong.
A farce. He doesn’t have the chops. He doesn’t have the smarts. He doesn’t have the people skills.
What does he have? Don’t say it.
There are great coaches out there that meet the criteria. Some didn’t want to be here. Others were too demanding.
What did your hothead buddy say at his press conference today, I wonder.
Kings 0, Devils 0
Both Randys are gone. We’d better get some technicians. Firing Martin remains a mistake. Same with the Carbo decision.
Timing was wrong in both cases. And the results bear it out. The team didn’t improve in either case.
Faceoff to Brodeur’s left. Henrique falls; the puck is on Devil sticks. It’s lost deep and Doughty’s pass is intercepted. He’s been much better with his passes this series. The turnover machine days may be coming to an end.
Spaces open at the Devils’ insistence and Dwight King’s distance shot sails over everything and hard into the boards. Whistle.
Systems hockey. Sure, I like it. The game is so fast, the puck still so difficult to retain that the balance remains compelling.
A short montage featuring Justin Williams flashes red and bright across the screen. Reseau reminds us that Williams was a part of the Hurricanes Stanley cup win in 2006. Koivu’s name is mentioned and I choose not to indulge in that vicious memory. I watch dejected Oilers shake hands with victorious Whalers instead.
They were in Hartford before moving to Raleigh.
Salvador knocks down a man and gets away with it. More garbage work by Salvador. Finally an arm goes up. Interference. And, yes, it’s Salvador. Useless. He’d lost his stick. And ended up punching Carter. He smiles in guilt and pleasure as he observes the replay from the penalty box. Brandon, Manitoba. Keep representin’. What lovely minor roots you have.
The better to detooth you with.
Kings power-play. This aspect has sputtered throughout. And more of the same. Devils’ outstanding kill is a factor but the Kings move the puck slowly, too much hesitation and the confidence just isn’t there.
Sutter bites his lips but not as hard as in game one. He folds his arms, his plays and thoughts on a sheet in his right hand (under his left elbow, yo).
Ten minutes gone.
Game four can be interminable in a 3-0 scenario. The hardest of wins; the first fourth. Get it?
In a way, it’s nice to see another final featuring systems teams. Every team runs systems, yes. But the teams that run it best are the ones I hope prevail. Both Vancouver and Boston were intelligent; working unique playbooks. The Devils are much better than Boston (goalie aside) and LA’s own discipline is a bit more than a match. More to come? If this is Stanley Cup hockey for years to come, I’m in. Chicago, too and Philly were both disciplined in the playbook sense; Flyers masters of their own zone and Chicago a halcyon mid-ice force; so much speed; so much control. Too bad they lost Byfuglien. That dratted cap.
More short passes and the Kings find brief space. The cross-slot pass is a bit far, Devils in position and the Kings must retreat.
Are you telling me Michel Therrien can get the Canadiens playing with this kind of discipline, this kind of point to point intelligent reflex? Michel Therrien? <insert derisive guffaw>
Brodeur kick-saves and then smothers moments later.
Just shooting more isn’t enough. A Hart goalie isn’t enough.
Montreal’s turnovers and puck care were amongst the worst in the league last season. What will Michel Therrien do about it?
Martin Brodeur looks like the Bell Centre Brodeur tonight. Kings are in trouble.
Under Therrien, the Penguins achieved 47 wins in 07-08 and reached the finals. They lost in six to the powerful Detroit Red Wings. French Canadian coaches rarely get second chances in the NHL; they’re just not considered by the retread committee. Has Therrien changed enough? Learned enough?
But we’re stuck with him.
Two and twenty-five.
Puck escapes the neutral zone.
Brodeur has lost five straight road games in the Stanley Cup final, relays RDS. Fair enough.
Tonight, he’s back. And that message may be enough for the Devils, who’ve slumped at this point in games against the Kings.
One oh five.
The Kings won’t take the extra risk and the Devils have to wait as the puck is moved around their zone; three passes and finally lost deep right.
Devils attacks sees a big body check and then Stoll drives around a Devil on the other end. Re-routed. And then Brodeur is finally compromised, Stoll knocking him to the ice; himself a victim of a run-over. No calls and the seconds drain out. Kings led 7-3 on shots.
Jacques Martin would approve.
Couldn’t they have begged Jacques Lemaire to coach?
Kings 0, Devils 0
Pat Brisson says positive things about Therrien’s hire. Adds that Crosby thinks it was a good hire, too. Why don’t we ask Crosby what he thinks of the economy, while we’re at it.
Devils 0, Kings 0
Black Betty glitters dark, unseen and menacing note to this day. And the team in black wins the draw, dumps it down and loses it behind the net, Brodeur getting to it first. Still one of the best outside his net; if not the very best.
Yes, notes can glisten.
The Cup is shown leaving its case, being polished and readied for possible presentation tonight. I’ve managed to miss most Anglican (I mean Angloise) announcing this season. I was fortunate. Or perhaps purposeful.
Twenty minutes to the Cup. Twenty minutes to survive. Which one is the honey?
Sykora and Elias are on. Zubrus with them. Greene defends, an arm high and the Devils have to earn each foot. And it’s out. Doughty and Scuderi are paired next and again they face, a Devil pressing. Gionta and Carter are to the boards sticks out and low before the Kings. Bernier supports on the low boards and an oblique-angled shot is absorbed by Quick.
Jonathan Bernier, number forty-five, chews gum and relaxes under his baseball cap. He started 13 games for Kings in net this season.
Opening. Two on one. Saucer pass. Gagne down the left for Trevor Lewis. , Volchenkov diving vainly in the churn. Brodeur flips and twists to the ice, the puck stays out and the net flips off. Houde notes the mild booing in the rink.
Kings close to the crease. Brodeur punches a player with his blocker. Nolan. Brodeur bulls forward and then laughs loudly at some placating remark from an official. The situation settles.
Devils press again and the Kings speed is allowed space. It’s fearful but it’s that or death. The Devils must press; waiting won’t win.
Deep left and the Kings win it, Stoll.
Devils emerge, flowing down the left; it’s Parise. Slapshot from thirty-five. Quick drops. He can’t see it. Reaches down with the glove. Flaps at nothing. It stays somewhere in his bulk. Whistle.
Parise is non-plussed. The network cuts to an ad.
Brown. Space and Brodeur in front of him. Brodeur mishandled it at his post. And it stays out.
The crowd says Marty’s name five times; longest so far this series. I think that’s a mistake. Brodeur is at his best when he has something to prove. How much might this wine and cheese crowd know? We’re shown several famous folks; Cuba Gooding Junior, Vince Vaughan, Mary Hart and Will Ferrell.
Devils surround, a pitchfork constellation. Zubrus, one arm a la Zednik. To the point. Shot and it finds its way to Quick. Rebound. And Elias backhands it in. Looking like Stastny all the while. Um. Marian. Quick complains. Elias may have gotten an arm across prior, slowing the goalie’s flow to the crease lip.
No replay confirms.
New Jersey 1, LA Kings 0
Eleven and a half.
Another penalty. Clarkson. Boarding. He looks over with derision and takes a seat. He seems more convinced after the replay. Legit call. And a poor decision.
Kings score immediately.
The blare horn. A kid jumping. The noise, the noise, the noise. This ain’t no place for a hockey grinch.
The left point shot is a one-timer by Doughty from Richards. Through the five. No deflection. Bit of a screen. Marty chant resumes.
LA Kings 1, New Jersey Devils 1
Ten and a half.
David Clarkson is from Toronto, Ontario.
Faceoff deep right, Kings and they win it. Immediate. Hits something.
Re-entry. Penner. Stumble-bumbling. And no torque.
Justin Williams carries from around his net. Followed, funnelled, bumped. No.
Kopitar snakes in now. Three tighten but no contact. But the sticks are enough and the puck is ink from a warped pen.
Leaves the zone. Whistle.
Devils win the flash of sticks and carry.
But a diving King pushes a puck for Penner and he’s got the Cup on his stick. Over the blue. A man chases. And Penner misses the net entirely.
Wrister outside the post. Dustin Penner is from Winkler, Manitoba. Do they have shooting drills out there? Are there barns?
Seven and forty.
Long pucks count, this one a wasted wastrel from Simon Gagne. I’ve rarely seen games like this, post-lockout. Turnovers are minimal. And the drives are long.
Parise hit Stoll but his left leg caught, causing him pain. He returned, regardless.
Quick watches the puck drop to his right. Bounces on rubber-band legs and the Kings are flowing out. Here’s a chance. No. Brodeur was left and right but no sticks in the breach.
Another Brodeur bowling-shoe special, he’s on his clown seat and then it’s gone.
Devils. Pass, pass, shot and goal. Henrique. DeBoer allows a sigh. Somehow Henrique beat Quick shot side and high over the right shoulder. Henrique was alone and down the left took a near full cross-ice pass from the right boards.
It’s become silencieux here, says Pierre. C’est vrai.
Devils 2, Kings 1
They remain quiet and then we hear some booing.
That avalanche of goals from Edmonton occurs to me needlessly. Against Islanders. They finished with a 7-2 win and the series ended. Once they knew they could score, it was all over.
Firewagon hockey. Needs speed. The Devils aren’t firewagon. But they’ve got horns.
Devils aren’t salty, they aren’t cold ice, either. They continue with their graph paper approach. Now a penalty. Kings.
First minute is controlled and with a mind to puck control. Houde notes LA nerves.
The Lakers were lucky to get Phil Jackson. Otherwise they never would have learned how.
Quick is flat ginger on his back. His bread-arms wave blind. The puck stays out.
Kovalchuk with a missed-intent board shot from the slot. And the rebound is certain. Zajac fanned on it. Cookie luck.
Three games. Two. One. It isn’t 1987, anymore. That three game lead means less. Chicago nearly proved it twice. We’ll see it once every two years one day.
Kovalchuk has it. Offwing. Fires. Netting. Nothing. Not tonight.
The Kings must leave their home.
The wrister was a one-man across another’s shoulder. From the boards about thirty-five feet out.
The seconds tick away. Sutter clucks, spins and chews his tongue.
DeBoer remains mute and solemn. This series goes back East.
Time ticks off.
New Jersey 3
LA Kings 1
Kings lead best-of-seven series three games to one. Game five in New Jersey on Saturday.
HDS Stars: Drew Doughty, Martin Brodeur, Jonathan Quick
RDS Stars: Martin Brodeur, Adam Henrique, Dustin Penner