Stock: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29)

Not the 1990s

Continuing to play “who’s here and who’s gone” with the Kings, let’s take a  moment to  mourn the departure of Alec Martinez.  Why?

Fans loved him, if not quite as much as they adore Kopitar, Doughty, Brown, and Quick. But “Marty” was right up there, and the memories that the LA crowd will always share with him include his OT Cup-winning goal in game five of the 2014 playoffs.

Funny enough, now that he’s in Vegas, his first goal was shown on the highlights during the Kings game on Thursday, with the point being made that that goal was much the same as the one he scored at Staples in 2014. One other note on that clip—it showed Kyle Clifford on the ice also. He left this week to Toronto, as was covered here earlier in the week.

In actual hockey news, the arena was rocking with the Gin Blossoms and Nirvana on Saturday night—of course, since it was 90s night. Snoop Dog was in attendance. Not sure why, because he’s not throwback but very much famous now, but hey—he played a set at the All-Star game in 2017, and that was pretty cool.

And the youth was on full display. The first goal of the game came on an Austin Wagner penalty shot with barely four minutes gone. He had been interfered with by Nikita Zadorov when clear of the man headed to the net. He buried his try by coming relatively straight down the ice, deking three times, and firing a wrist shot into the open left side of the net.

The Avs, meanwhile, were not as good as they had been the night before in Anaheim. I was there, so I can tell you firsthand: Friday the Colorado team, especially the MacKinnon line, was all over the place. Saturday night, they were nearly invisible. In their place, line two (Compher flanked by Kaut and Nichushkin) was good early. The Avs outpaced the Kings in shots in P1, also, doubling them up 15-7, but that was accounted for by power plays, a pair of them. No scoring past the penalty shot, though, and the first saw the Kings exit with a 1-0 lead.

But back to the “who’s gone game”—Toffoli is in Vancouver, as you likely know. They got two players and two picks for the player they picked up in the second round of the 2010 draft. Hard to believe that he played over 500 games in a Kings’ sweater after a brief 10-game 2012-13 debut and then most of 18 seasons. He had 139 goals and 152 assists from his right wing spot. He won the Stanley Cup with the team in 2014 after playing the first 18 games of the year with the Manchester Monarchs, then the Kings’ AHL affiliate. The year they won the Cup, he had 7-7-14 points in 26 playoff games. Things have not been so hopeful since, but that’s not the point at present.

As a kind of memorable send-off, Toffoli scored a hat trick—the first in outdoor play—last Saturday in Colorado. He was traded for Tim Schaller, a fourth-liner over the past two LA games, propect Tyler Madden, an excellent college player, and two picks. One of those is in round two of this spring’s draft, the other 2022 and with conditions. That latter is fourth round anyway, so it’s nothing more than a crapshoot pick. Madden is the prize here. He has played the last two seasons at Northeastern, where this year he has 37 points in 27 games to date.

Good trade for the Kings, anyway, as Toffoli is an unrestricted free agent after this year. has his salary this year at $4.6 million bucks. He is 27.

To get back to the present (or the 90s, as you wish), the Kings also had Denise Austin in attendance (Remember workout TV shows? That was a good idea. What happened?)

And a special guest: Felix Potvin, one of the more successful goalies of a completely unsuccessful era in Kings’ history. They gave him a watch that sells online for more than a thousand bucks (I checked). Good gig if you can get it. He played in LA for three years near the end of his career after a long and good run with the Leafs that included some exciting playoff performances. (He went to the Isles and Canucks before arriving in LA, for the record.)

So what happened on the ice? The Kings had two shots on goal in P2 until the last 30 seconds, when the registered one more. They had two minor penalties plus an offsetting minor as the period wound down that put the teams four-on-four. The highlight of the night, and close to the save of the season, though came in the LA net. The Avs’ Matt Nieto came down right side and passed over to linemate Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. He launched a quick shot.

Jonathan Quick exploded from left to right, flying, literally, across the crease with blocker outstretched. The puck hit it and went off into the corner. Quick by this time was in a glorious full splits. The cheers were huge, and the scoreboard showed his throwback picture right after, Quick as about a 12-year-old, hat turned sidewise, punk-@$$ style. Bad to the bone. Was that the nineties? Someone look that up.

The Avs potted their goal at about 16 minutes of the second on a defensive mistake by LA. The shot beat Quick through a screen.

Period three saw the LA team creep almost even in offense. They launched six shots to Colorado’s six. The game ended tied after three, 1-1. The Kings had but one shot 11 minutes into the third. One highlight, however, came right at the end, when Blake Lizotte laid out at the point to block a slapshot from Ian Cole. The Kings almost won the game on a shot by Martin Frk coming off a faceoff with Frk, a forward, playing left D. This because there were only 2.6 seconds left when the faceoff came. The puck went wide after being deflected. On the night, the Kings had 57 shot attempts. The Avs had 57 also, surprising when I think of they eyeball test, which said that Colorado had been the far more dangerous team.

What they didn’t do it get their big wheels going. MacKinnon had seven shots to pace the team, but even his were into crowds and that sort of thing. He didn’t skate like he had against the Ducks, zooming all over the zone and bamboozling the opposition.

Perhaps this is why Cole described it afterwards as a defensive struggle. “A game like this . . . is a hard-fought, great defensive game. It helps you dial it in down the stretch to the playoffs, where it is a much more defensive game. It’s great, a huge boost. Now we have a really good template to move forward with.”

The game went to OT, and even with a power play in extra time for LA, nobody scored. The Avs got just one shot to the LA team’s five in that five-minute period.

The shootout came down to Donskoi’s attempt, the third by Colorado. LA had shot first. Donskoi won it, to the dismay of Jonathan Quick, who had played a stellar game when he needed to, facing 31 shots before the shootout.

Coach McLellan credited his goaltender after the game, saying, “It was a tough game to play. They really did a good job of checking . . . .  We checked our way to a win in the outdoor game. But we were checked into a loss—a shootout loss, mind you—tonight.” He added later, “Quickie was outstanding [on the PK]. He made real good saves, and there wasn’t a lot of crap laying around the crease.”



The Kings play  again tomorrow, Sunday, at 7pm.