Eery Foreshadowing with the Kings and FSN West
News recently broke that Justin Williams dislocated his shoulder last night in the game versus the Calgary Flames, which the Kings won 2-1 via the shootout.
He will apparently miss the remainder of the regular season. The duration for which he’ll be absent in the playoffs depends on his recovery, and, the amount of games the Kings play in the postseason. His absence will be a challenging one for the Kings to overcome in the final 9 games which will decide what seed (or IF) the Kings will be slotted in the playoffs. There could be no worse time for this to happen.
In this day in age it is customary not to first give Justin our well wishes, not to credit the team for appropriate and swift medical attention, and not to congratulate him on a great season thus far. In the words of the great Randy Marsh, “what matters now is figuring out who’s to blame”:
- Is it Robyn Regehr for his punishingly legal body check?
- Is it Williams himself for being fragile?
- Is it Terry Murray for not having Kevin Westgarth on the ice at all times, which would undoubtedly deter such an incident?
- Is it this fan for sleeping during the game?
No. It is none of those things. It is the fault of our beloved Fox Sports West, for inserting this graphic during a 2nd period bench interview with Patrick O’Neal:
SERIOUSLY!?! This is from last night’s game, approximately 20 minutes on the game clock before he would suffer a season ending shoulder injury.
Why, oh why, would such a stat be necessary?! There is not a Kings fan on Earth who didn’t see this and think, “Great. Cue Tonya Harding skating out in the 3rd period with a Hacksaw Jim Dugan 2×4 strike to the side of his knee.” OK MAYBE I was the only one who went into that detail.
There was no Tonya, no red, white, and blue draped lumber. Just Robyn Regehr and his shoulder.
Should the hit have been a penalty? Absolutely not.
Should Kings fans be angry? No. Frustrated? Yes.
Could anyone really have jinxed or predicted this? No.
Of course it is somewhat ironic that some players truly are plagued by the injury bug. Perhaps it’s the way they play- Williams has an aggressive, somewhat choppy skating style and often pushes himself to try to make plays happen. In the spirit of this article, I will decline to compare him to anyone else that has played mostly injury free, but valid comparisons could be made.
So let me take the opportunity to say, “Justin- you had a great season. Not a phenomenal season, but one to be proud of. If you can make it back for the playoffs we’ll be ecstatic to see you again.”
While last night’s win was obviously an important one against a conference opponent that was only 2 points behind the Kings, I sure hope that the Kings’ inability to close out teams in 65 minutes or less doesn’t come back to haunt them. They now are tied for the league lead with eight shootout wins, and Jonathan Quick is a staggering 8-0 in the extra point deciding skills competition.
But keep this in mind:
NHL By-Law 27.3 now reads as follows (with the approved revision in underlined italics):
At the conclusion of the regular Schedule of Championship Games the standing of the teams in each Conference shall be determined in accordance with the following priorities in the order listed:
a) First place in each of the three divisions seeded 1, 2 and 3.
b) The higher number of points earned by the Club.
c) The greater number of games won by the Club (excluding games won in the Shootout).
Looking at the statistics, the Kings are night and day when it comes to the Shootout vs. the 5 minute Overtime. Of the 15 contests the Kings have needed more than 60 minutes to settle this season:
- 10 of them have gone to shootouts. They have won 8 of those.
- 5 of them have been decided in Overtime. The Kings have lost 4 of those.
Based on that, wouldn’t it be smarter for them try to advance to the Shootout where they get the extra point 80% of the time, and play the 5 minute OT like a penalty kill, which is the strongest aspect of the Kings game all season long?
In the context of the individual game, trying to earn the extra point, it unquestionably is. So as long as the Kings keep at least forcing Overtime, then forcing the Shootout, and then winning those at 80%, they’ll definitely earn enough points to secure a decent seed in the Western Conference, in which case tiebreakers will most likely not be an issue.
In terms of the season however, if it looks like the Kings will be tied with one or more teams and need that extra help to get into the playoffs- it might be a good idea to be a bit more aggressive in the 4 on 4 period. I’m not saying to jeopardize defensive focus; in fact I’ve always said that ‘not losing’ is the most important part of winning. But the mentality of playing to only ‘not to lose’ in the sudden death might not be one that we want to the team to have going forward, simply because:
There are no shootouts in the Playoffs.