LA Kings Beat Detroit Red Wings 5-2 With a Controlled Dominance


The Kings played one of their finest games of the year on Tuesday night, in a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. No, it wasn’t flashy, they didn’t spray Jimmy Howard with 50 shots and Jonathan Quick didn’t stand on his head and stonewall Detroit by saving 51 as he did a year ago. The Kings were never in trouble and Quick was never in duress. Until the Red Wings had a 5-on-3 gut check Power Play early in the third period, they never were on a prolonged attack.

This was a different type of game for the Kings, as it was a controlled dominance, anchored by the Kings’ core, as Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty were all visible and active. Let’s break down each player and the role they played for the Kings in their 5-2 victory over Detroit and of late:

Anze Kopitar: We’ve seen Kopitar slack a little bit over the course of the season for not a lack of effort, but just a lack of execution. Lately, there’s been less slack, and against the Wings, Kopitar was skating with presence, not over committing to the backcheck or forecheck, and playing within his skill set. His short handed goal set the tone for the Kings’ “controlled dominance” and probably one of the prettiest goals of the season for club.

Drew Doughty: Doughty’s back, and he has been during the second half of the season. Yeah, he got lucky on his mystery deflection goal, but he’s playing smarter than he was a season ago. At one point in the game, the Kings were pressing and the puck deflected in front of Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, into the high slot. Doughty, sitting at the point, read counter-attack and immediately dropped into a backcheck rather than over pursuining on a risky rush to the net that would have likely set Henrik Zetterberg and company on a 3-on-1 the other way. Doughty from 2011 probably makes the effort to win that puck in the offensive zone, and subsequently gets burned. You know, like that wild game in Vancouver last March, when Doughty was burned on what felt like every goal the Canucks scored.

Mike Richards: For as streaky as Richards has been this season, he plays his best hockey when he’s grinding to win pucks, starting attacks by leading his wingers up the boards and controlling the puck as much as he can. He did that on Tuesday night, and the connection between him and Jeff Carter is really visible and Dwight King is better player because of Richards. It’s just a shame that Richards can’t buy a point, especially having Doughty’s goal taken away from to be given to the defenseman.

Jeff Carter: Yes, Carter added the empty net goal to put the icing on the cake for the Kings, but his two point night was more about him working off the play of Richards, skating(he’s such an undervalued skater) and just being around the crease and along the boards. He’s doing that, and making himself present in the Kings’ system.

Dustin Brown: The Mayor, John Hoven, tweeted during the third period that Dustin Brown had eclipsed the 10 hit mark for the third time this season, a career high. Not only were Brown’s hits plentiful, his energy on Tuesday night and really since the trade rumors three weeks ago, is back to where it was two seasons ago during the Olympics. Need proof? Just look at how he drew one of Detroit’s two penalties on the night, a two-minute minor for interference that was given to Henrik Zetterberg.

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The Kings have a long way to go to close the season out in the way they’d like to. With 12 games left and three against the San Jose Sharks, there’s plenty of time for the Kings to take a step forward or shoot themselves in the foot, so by no means are the Kings ‘back’ in a whole sense. But if they’re going to be back, this is a first step and how they’ll have to play going forward. The Kings have continuously played the top teams strong and struggled with the Columbuses of the world, so with three against San Jose, a home game to Boston, and tough titles with Vancouver, St. Louis and Nashville, the Kings have chance. Let’s see what they can do.