The Los Angeles Kings vs the Anaheim Ducks always provides excellent entertainment and Tuesday night was no different.
Well, maybe not if you're a Ducks fan. As the Kings controlled play en route to a 4-1 victory.
Had it not been for a stellar performance in goal by Lukas Dostal, who finished with above a .900 save percentage and 0.12 goals saved above expected despite giving up four goals. The Kings could have absolutely run away with this game.
Dostal wasn't the only goalie who had a strong game though. As Pheonix Copley continued his solid play in net. Finishing with a .960 save percentage and 1.19 goals saved above expected. Copley is providing stability in net, but as Todd McLellan pointed out post-game, the team is playing better in front of their goalie as well.
"The answer to that question is yes," McLellan said about the stability Copley has brought. "But by answering that it looks like I'm accusing other goaltenders of not doing their job. And that's not the case. Quickie (Jonathan Quick) and Cal (Petersen), they need help too. Our team is playing better right now in front of Pheonix in front of the other two. And when it's time for Quickie to go back in, or call, or whoever it might be. I certainly expect, and I'm sure the players expect that type of performance in front of them as well. So, the simple answer is yes, but it's not an accusatory answer."
It's a diplomatic answer from McLellan and there's some truth in the team playing well in front of Copley. But certainly, his play has been massive for the Kings' resurgence. He gives the team confidence in front of him and has come up with big saves when needed. He's also a very calming presence in net, never too sporadic in his play. And that has an impact on the team.
"He's an awesome guy," Durzi said of Copley. "He's really calm, he's a true professional, takes care of himself every single day. And really, those are the kind of guys you want to watch and you want to learn off of. I think, he kind of does his thing very quietly and I think the guys can build off that."
McLellan also felt Copley's calm play has an effect on his team.
"I think that's fair to say," said McLellan. "Very relaxed in the net, it doesn't look like he's panicking at any point. He's just making saves and he's getting up and doing it all over again. Probably a good observation, I think that makes us feel comfortable."
As you'd expect with a rivalry game, it got a little feisty toward the end. A dangerous hit from Max Comtois on Mikey Anderson brought a crowd together and that carried through the final nine minutes of the game.
"That's awesome, that's the rivalry we've got between these guys," said Durzi. "I'd be surprised if there was none of that in this game. To see some guys step up, Arty (Arthur Kaliyev) took a few shots there and got into the mix a little bit, which is awesome to see. And, he blocked a big shot at the end. And Mikey, obviously, standing up for himself after he takes a hit at the end. And the guy's obviously had his back. You saw five guys in the pile and it's just the rivalry we've got with those guys, you love to see it."
McLellan wasn't as impressed by the feisty play though.
"Boy, the games changed a lot if that's unfriendly," McLellan said. "Holy boy. Just think back I'm sure to this rivalry, I wasn't here for it, but I know the San Jose, LA Anaheim of 10 years ago, that was unfriendly. I'm not sure I would call this that unfriendly."
The Kings have the Calgary Flames on Thursday, giving them a chance to win four straight games, which would tie a season-high.