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I was watching the Los Angeles Kings' 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Monday night and as the Kings bus rolled back up the freeway with a 2-0 series lead, I want to share a couple of insights from the game.
It is obvious to anyone that dials into this series that a clear rivalry exists between these two teams beyond just geographic location. Finishing hard checks and delivering punishing hits, while a given in every playoff series, is often taken to excess when teams really dislike each other.
Particular value is placed upon making solid contact and delivering punishing hits whenever possible on key targets; Drew Doughty, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf certainly make the list, as do others.
Jonathan Quick has regained his Conn Smythe Trophy winning form and is likely to become a primary target moving forward. The Ducks need to find a way to solve that obstacle in quick order if they are to jump back into this series! Game 3 becomes pivotal and the referees had better come to work with their radar up and head on a swivel. The goal crease at both ends of the rink needs to be a key focus of their attention.
At 3:21 of the second period in Game 2, Quick was assessed a minor penalty for roughing after Corey Perry, and to a lesser degree Jake Muzzin, crashed into the Kings netminder (Click here for the viz).
By all appearance, Perry took full advantage of a retraining hook by Muzzin to make 'more' solid contact with Quick inside the crease. Quick had covered the puck after it was sent his way from above the top of the face-off circle. Muzzin then implemented the hook on Perry above the hash marks in an effort to keep the Ducks player away from his most valuable goalkeeper. Referee Steve Kozari curled below the goal line and assumed a position directly behind the net as Perry and Muzzin were falling toward the goal crease.
The referee missed a golden opportunity to send a message and acknowledge both the illegal restraint by Muzzin and the lack of effort by Perry to avoid or minimize contact with the goalkeeper. A much better awareness by the referees is required relative to contact with the goalkeepers at both ends of the ice as this series moves forward.
The other thing I want to share with you is a little slice of "nasty" that Ryan Getzlaf extended to Dustin Brown after the two players were getting back to their feet following a collision and fall to the ice well away from the play once Getzlaf dumped the puck into the Kings end zone. The 'stick blade neck shave' (Click here for the viz) that Getzlaf provided Brown free of charge (no penalty) signals not only the dislike players from both teams have for one another but also demonstrates the need for better awareness from the non-action referee (players away from the puck).