James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Kings fall to Sharks after losing Quick to injury

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One type of loss will leave you muttering “it’s just one game.” Another one will leave you worrying about the future.

The Los Angeles Kings couldn’t have been happy about falling to the San Jose Sharks by a score of 2-1 to open their respective seasons on Sunday.

Even so, it’s clear that they’re probably more worried about the health of goalie Jonathan Quick, who could be out “a while.” If Darryl Sutter’s belief that the injury happened at the end of the first period of Wednesday’s game, then it may have happened here:

Jeff Zatkoff wasn’t a disaster by any stretch, as it’s likely that he didn’t have much of a chance of stopping Brent Burns‘ game-winning goal.

While San Jose generated a healthy advantage in shots on goal and possession, Zatkoff wasn’t bombarded by chances. If nothing else, the Kings are well-suited to protect their new backup if Zatkoff needs to be the No. 1 guy for a while.

Regardless, it was a pretty unpleasant way to begin the 2016-17 season.

The Sharks, meanwhile, likely look at their opener as a positive continuation of last season’s strong finish, right down to Burns being a difference-maker.

Kings GM says Quick could be out ‘a while’

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The Los Angeles Kings raised some eyebrows in the second period when Jeff Zatkoff replaced Jonathan Quick in net.

It turns out that Quick is unlikely to return to Wednesday’s season-opener against the San Jose Sharks thanks to a lower-body injury, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

The exact severity of the injury is unclear at this time, and it’s not totally obvious when he might have been injured. Fox Sports’ Jon Rosen reports that Quick has an MRI scheduled for Thursday.

Being that it was a lower-body issue, one would assume that it probably didn’t stem from this outburst:

Whatever the case may be, it’s a situation for Los Angeles to monitor.

Update: Darryl Sutter said that the injury occurred during the last shift of the first period.

The latest news seems as worrisome as it appears … vague.

Video: Jonathan Quick loses his cool after Sharks goal

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Bold proclamation: the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings aren’t especially fond of each other.

Wednesday provided the latest example, as Jonathan Quick DID NOT react kindly to the Sharks’ actions in reacting to what would eventually be deemed a Logan Couture goal anyway.

Both Quick and Joe Pavelski earned roughing penalties during that exchange, but no one else was dinged for the scrum.

The first period of Kings – Sharks ended tied 1-1. The opening goal was a little funky in its own right:

Matthews takes blame for Sens’ winning goal, of course

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Auston Matthews put on a debut for the record books on Wednesday, but technically it wasn’t a perfect night for the rookie.

Technically.

It’s not just that the Toronto Maple Leafs fell despite Matthews’ four goals, losing to the Ottawa Senators 5-4 in overtime. It’s that Matthews maybe could have made a better play to prevent Kyle Turris‘ clinching goal:

Ultimately, even that moment made Matthews that much more likable to fans of the Leafs and sport in general. That’s because Matthews took responsibility for that goal, because of course he did:

Yeah, that’s the sort of behavior that will really make for a crowded bandwagon.

For what it’s worth, hard-driving head coach Mike Babcock is smart enough to see the big picture, calling it his most enjoyable night as Maple Leafs bench boss. And it doesn’t sound close.

Now, maybe Babs will get a scowl or two going during film sessions, but … still.

More on Matthews’ incredible night – the good parts – can be found here.

Special teams boost Blues by Blackhawks

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Along with Brian Elliott‘s brilliant play, the St. Louis Blues took advantage of a hot stretch of power play pay to push by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 postseason.*

Elliott is with Calgary now, but at least some of those themes carried over as the Blues beat the Blackhawks 5-2 to open the 2016-17 season.

On one hand, that lead is a little, well, misleading.

The Blackhawks were within a goal late in the game, hoping to tie things up by emptying their own net.

Instead, Vladimir Tarasenko made it 4-2 on an empty-netter and then an odd Duncan Keith own-empty-net-goal made it 5-2, exaggerating the gap.

On the other hand, the Blues did outplay the Blackhawks at times.

natstat

(via Natural Stat Trick)

Concerns about the Blackhawks’ offense may seem like a novelty of sorts, but through one game, they felt justified. The Blues smothered Chicago at times on Wednesday, and it showed most clearly in the shot counts.

Yeah, that’s not ideal.

To be fair, the Blackhawks did turn the heat up on Jake Allen more in the third period after St. Louis took an early lead.

Again, special teams was crucial. One of two Blackhawks goals came on the man advantage while the Blues’ three tallies against an actual goalie came on the power play. St. Louis exploited a lengthy 5-on-3 situation in the end of the second period and beginning of the third, managing the tying and then decisive goals on the PP.

That ended up being all they needed to get a win against their hated Central Division rivals.

It’s dangerous to read too much into Game 1 of an 82-game marathon, but the Blackhawks might want to look at a few things during film sessions.

* – At least in the middle of the series, when the Blues managed five PPG during a three-game span.