It started out with raising the banner for the Los Angeles Kings and ended with the San Jose Sharks beating them 4-0 with two great goals by Tommy Wingles, and awful performance for goalieJonathan Quick and generally a terrible way to start the new season for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
It’s been 17 years since a team has been able to win back to back Stanley Cups, and the Kings didn’t look like a team capable of repeating that achievement in what one might call a dreamy display for them but with a negative note, as in daydreaming or an actual nightmare from top to bottom with foolish mistakes and too many moments of lapses in concentration and focus, making it an easy revenge night for the Sharks.
The Sharks held a 3-0 lead in the first round series between the two teams a few months ago in the playoffs, but the Kings rallied back to win four straight and eventually make it their second Stanley Cup title in three years. Four months later, after looking great in the preseason, the Kings become just the 4th defending champions to get shut out in the season opener and tied for the second largest loss by a defending champion in an opener.
It’s been a long summer, thinking about this game. When the schedule came out and we saw that this was our first game, the media loved it, the fans loved it, and we as players loved it, too. There’s not a better way for us to start the season, and for us to be able to come in here and have this kind of success, it’s a big win. Losing the way we lost to them, we waited a long time for today. I think we’ve gained a little bit of ground on them in the offseason. We’re more hungry and we really want to do the details right this time.
It began with Wingles scoring from an almost impossible angle in the first period, making it just the first of a number of embarrassing moments for Quick, who like other players on the team, didn’t look like someone completely concentrated on what was going on after the banner was lifted. Quick didn’t even finish the game, getting pulled out for most of the third period after the fourth goal was conceded, directly due to his involvement.
After most of the first period was wasted on fighting between players, Patrick Marleau scored after 3:20 in the second period on the power play with a long range shot Quick should have really been able to pick up. The third goal came from Wingles again, slicing between two Kings defenders after a shot got blocked and showing some nice finishing skills in front of the net to make it 3-0, and clearly state that this wasn’t the Kings’ night.
The fourth came late in the second period from Matt Nieto, as Quick tried to handle the puck behind his goal and was caught way off guard and out of position for the easiest and most embarrassing goal of the night. Just one game doesn’t mean anything, but the Kings need to hope this was just a case of being starstruck from the banner raising and not some more serious drop off after peaking and maybe getting a little bit lucky in last year’s playoffs.
We’ve been there before. … There are worse problems to have, so it’s one of those things that goes with the territory. That wasn’t why we were sloppy. We were sloppy because we didn’t prepare properly. I thought the mood in the room was good, but it didn’t translate once the game started. You can’t come out like that against a hockey club of this caliber.