Funny coincidence: The LA Kings hosted South Asian Heritage Night with Florida in town Sunday evening. Two nights before, I had given a talk to students at Gujarat National Law University on the topic of “Kinetic Motion as Cultural Expression: The Case for Canadian (and Indian) Cultural Identity” as part of the “Sports in India and Canada: History, Health, and Regulation” lecture series. In both cases, cultural affinities were celebrated and highlighted. The Kings had as their special guest Randip Janda, who broadcasts Hockey Night In Punjabi in Vancouver. He taught some Punjabi hockey terminology to the audience while being an ambassador for hockey’s cultural landscape, which has expanded beyond its origins by a wide and wonderful margin of late.
There was a game to play, of course, and it started with the Kings in the lead off a goal by Rasmus Kupari. That was all the scoring in period one, a period in which Florida had been plus-30 for the year so far. This was a Kings’ tally, so make that number plus-29. Florida got that back and scored another in an abbreviated span of P2. The Kings did not answer until much, much later.
The LA lead was erased in three minutes, starting with a shorthanded goal scored by Eetu Luostarinen. This was twinned by a marker from Brandon Montour. That was a beautiful goal, with Montour crashing the net and putting the puck from his skate to his stick and in while falling as he skated. The teams played a mostly even game from that point, with the shots knotted at 19 apiece late in period two.
The Kings, playing at home, might have been expected to surge in period three, but in fact, that period played out with no scoring, leaving the game a 2-1 affair—until the final minute. This was unlikely considering the Panthers are over four goals per game on the year, and in historic territory with their output.
LA was suffering the loss of a number of regulars, notably Drew Doughty on defense, Dustin Brown at forward, and Andreas Athanasiou, also at forward. Total guys out numbered seven. It had been four mid-week, then five on Saturday.
One guy who was in was Jonathan Quick, playing in his 700thgame. He is at the top (fourth) of the list of GAA for players with that many games in net. On the night, he faced 32 shots during regular play and five more in the shootout. Thirty goaltenders now have played 700 or more games. Martin Brodeur leads with 1030 games played. For history’s sake, Terry Sawchuk played 971. Tony Esposito had 886.
After the game, Quick spoke for the longest time I’ve ever seen him take the podium, but he still was not willing to take the focus onto himself for his accomplishment. The team had hats made with a large “700” in raised letters on the front. He said he had not put one on, but that he’d grabbed a couple to take home to his kids. His focus in his comments was “most importantly on those two points. We tied it up and found a way to get it in the end, in the shootout there.”
Between periods two and three, Jordan Spence, whose debut I covered the other night, talked about his first point. This came in the form of an assist on the Kupari goal. He said, “It was a good goal by Rasmus [Kupari]. Olli [Maata] passed it to me, and there was a guy coming down low, so that’s why I just chipped it to [Byfield] and he chipped it to [Kupari], who did all the rest. It was pretty cool, but we got a game to go, so we’re looking forward to that.” At the time, he didn’t know whether anyone had saved the puck for him.
Period three saw a late surge, Kempe getting a chance, then later Kopitar. One great chance was when a puck came whistling off the boards to Durzi on the point. He whipped a shot without stopping the puck, and Spencer Knight made a leg save. The Kings had a power play late after a penalty on Jonathan Huberdeau. A goalie pull added up to six men on four. Los Angeles scored when Martin Frk put a puck up high over Knight with 31.7 seconds to go. It was a beautiful play, where Durzi made a fake with the puck at the blueline, fooling everybody. It went over to Frk, who had time to tee up a slapshot. The puck went far side in off the post.
The game would eventually end up in a shootout, thought it might not have. With 2:34 left in OT, Aaron Ekblad took a tripping penalty against Kempe, surging to the net. The Kings couldn’t take advantage.
The game was a back-to-back situation for LA, who had played on Saturday night in NorCal, San Jose to be precise, in a disastrous 5-0 loss. Florida had traveled from the East Coast after hosting Philadelphia on Thursday. Nobody was using fatigue as an excuse, and, in fact, Todd McLellan from the coaching POV said that he thought that the comeback win was evidence that finally, the entire Kings organization, AHL and NHL teams combined, was playing the same game. He spotlighted a number of the Ontario team fill-ins for their roles, including Gabe Vilardi
LA now hosts Colorado on Tuesday night. Florida goes north to play the Sharks that same evening.
By the way, my paper to the law students was well received. The argument was something like this: the kinetic act of shooting a puck or swinging a cricket bat creates cultural identity in a person. This can become, then, a shorthand means of incorporating one’s self into a new culture. The problem is that hockey is not an unchanging entity—but it is culturally specific in a way that matters. Russian hockey is not Canadian hockey, for example, but neither is Canadian hockey of the 2020s the same at Canadian hockey in 1972.
Would the Kings please put a stop to this idiot glass-banding tradition, which makes one person the arbiter of the experience of thousands on TV?
Tobias Bjornfot suffered what appeared to be leg injury in OT when he went awkwardly into the boards. So make that list of walking wounded eight players, not seven.
Goaltending is never the safest position, but Sergei Bobrovsky got creamed by a puck on the bench, opening a nasty cut on his lip. He did flash his big gloves, but too late to make the stop.