I have to disagree with some of the prevailing sentiments expressed on this board. First, I thought it was generally a good all-around game by the Kings, and I don't think I would single out any player as having a bad game. The defense as a whole was effective, clearly the Stoll and Handzus lines were good, and even the fourth line had some productive shifts. The Kopitar line was okay, but Kopitar needs to go to the net more--as has been the case since he came into the league. When Kopitar is really on his game, he'll take hits to get to the paint. He hasn't been consistently doing that, and so we see his line as underperforming.
In general, it seems to me that the main difference between Kopitar's line and Stoll's line is that Stoll's line (a) dominates along the boards and (b) recovers pucks better. But, that said, the K-line overall played strong defense last night, and they certainly had some opportunities. They generated some shots. I think one of their problems is trying to generate too much off the rush, because that tends to leads to attack--shot that misses the net--puck either goes around the boards and out, or the defense picks it up. So often, those rush chances don't lead to sustained pressure, but I get the impression that the K-line will be aware that they're not generating much and that will lead them to press and try for more off the rush, when what they need to do is settle down and get some possession time.
As for the Devils, they're not as bad as everyone is saying. They also had their chances, and if Quick was off his game, things would have been much different. They are clearly struggling, but it's not like the Kings walked all over them.
But... it seems pretty clear that Kovalchuk is NOT helping. It's as if he gets the puck and the rest of the team just stops skating, and starts waiting for him to do something amazing. If there's one guy that doesn't make the players around him better, it's Kovalchuk.
And finally, I thought last night was a great case of special teams getting the Kings two points. The Kings killed penalties and gained momentum from it, and converted on the power play. That's a recipe for success most nights.
that is a really fair assessment of the game, if you look at it new jersey was absolutely terrible in their own end both breaking out and policing the front of the net and the kings still had to work hard and make good plays to get it past brodeur. smyth creates that stoll goal and stoll makes a great play to salvage the opportunity. willie's drag move on that first goal was pretty, it created the space and threw the timing of the goalie off.
on the flip side that puck that went into elias's skates was an almost-certain goal and where they floated a lot early the devils came with serious pressure late. some strong one-on-one stuff from kovalchuk, a surprising number of pinches, etc.
the main difference to me though was that the kings lines 2-4 got the puck low and grinded down the devils, the devils didn't have a single line doing that. their whole thinking seemed to be shoot the puck and it will go in but they settled for a lot of stuff on the perimeter that really didn't have a chance of going in. if they had worked harder they would have had a better shot at more offense early and their late push could have paid off bigger even if they didn't get another goal in the first 40.
another nice night for the stoll line, stoll was really buzzing and williams kept his level of play high. smyth didn't even touch the puck and he created that stoll goal with his work down low. both marty and the dman were playing it as a deflection play and preoccupied with him down low even after it went wide. brodeur said as much after the game was over. i was impressed with the handzus line, i think they are starting to figure out Ponikarovsky's habits now and it's a matter of time before Handzus is spoon feeding him on the doorstep to get that trio up around 55-60 goals this year.