On the heels of the controversy surrounding the suspension of Raffi Torres for his hit on Jarret Stoll, the Kings met the Sharks at the HP Pavilion in San Jose for Games 3 and 4. This followed an untimely and contentious statement by Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson that criticized the league’s disciplinary actions, a statement that has found the team facing a $100,000 fine.
The NHL posted the following as their reasoning for imposing the fine:
“The NHL said the fine was issued for violation of rules prohibiting formal team statements to the media during the 48-hour period following a disciplinary decision. The rule calls for an automatic $25,000 fine, and the Sharks were docked an additional $75,000 under an article in the league’s constitution because of the “inappropriate nature of the comments.””
But three games and no Stoll later, that is old and nearly forgotten news.
The Sharks evened the series when they hosted the Kings for two games at the HP Pavilion. This is a series rife with what many have claimed to be terrible refereeing on both sides of the coin. One of the many complaints was a disallowed goal by the Kings in the fourth game (due to a premature whistle) that would have given the Kings the chance to go into overtime and possibly win the game. Jonathan Quick was so angry with a call made in the final minutes of Game 3 that he slammed his stick on the goalpost and said something to the refs that earned him a game misconduct for verbal abuse of an official (after the game ended) and a $200 fine. Apparently the referees couldn’t tell that Quick was merely stating what was on the mind of everyone else watching the game, Kings fans, Sharks fans, and neutral fans alike.
Last year’s road warriors are gone; but the Kings are now a team that does not like to lose at home. They are undefeated in the last 13 games they have played in Los Angeles, including all of their home playoff games. But the Sharks aren’t going down without a (dirty) fight. Game 6 will undoubtedly be exciting. If the series goes to Game 7, I imagine most of the East Coast will plan on staying awake to watch, meaning I won’t be the only one dragging my feet to get the kids off to school and get myself to work the next day.
Game 5 was a huge victory for the Kings, seeing three goals by the likes of Anze Kopitar, Slava Voynov, and an empty netter by Jeff Carter. The Sharks were scoreless in Quick’s second shutout of the series and third of the postseason. Los Angeles had an impressive 51 hits against San Jose’s 24. If the Kings can reclaim their championship title, Quick deserves to be awarded with the Conn Smythe Trophy again.
While the two games that the Kings lost in San Jose could really have gone the other way if different calls had been made, they have won two of their games very decisively, and a lot of that credit goes to Quick. They will be back in Shark territory on Sunday, and it’s anyone’s guess how that game will go. Who can stay out of the penalty box? Who can play consistently throughout each period of the game?
The winner of this round will be exhausted by the end of it and will have little time to rest before jumping into the Western Conference Finals, and their best shot at an equally tired team would be for to Chicago to force the series to a sixth or seventh game. Currently, the top team in the league is just a game away from elimination. However, if the Blackhawks lose this round, the winner of the Kings vs. Sharks series will have home-ice advantage against the Detroit Red Wings, who are the seventh-seeded team in the conference.
I just wonder where this is going to take the relationship of Drew Doughty and Logan Couture, who are former teammates and good friends. They have put things on hold for these couple of weeks. If they can make it through a heated, emotional playoff series rivalry, I would imagine that they can make it through most anything.
The latest from coach Darryl Sutter on Stoll isn’t good. Regarding Stoll’s first time back on the ice since getting hit by Torres, Sutter had this to say:
“He skated for a few minutes this morning, so you just keep seeing where it goes. It’s not [as] if he fell off the bike because he had a headache or something, then you’re back to square one. It’s basically, OK, he rode the bike, had a certain heart rate for eight minutes, so it’s really not that big a deal. So this morning he went and skated for 15, so then you just evaluate again tomorrow morning and go from there. So that means there’s still significant, long ways to go.”
If the Kings win this round, it looks like they will be moving forward without one of their best forwards.