Help! I've been imprisoned and forced to write game recaps for a terrible Kings team!
Last night, the Kings scoring woes continued as they found themselves shut out by a Canucks team that had played the night before. In general, they struggled to maintain zone time and had sloppy puck movement all night. Was there anything positive to take away? Read on to find out!
The Kings suffered their first shutout last night, and have tied a team worst season start with three losses. LA has never lost four in a row, so at least they have a record to strive for, right? What's worse is that all three games have been against division rivals, so LA is sacrificing valuable points early in their losing streak. Also, as we all predicted, the Coyotes and Sharks sit atop the division while Anaheim and LA are near the bottom.
As for the game performance, the Kings looked fairly competent early in the first period and managed to go into the first intermission scoreless. Even more positive was that Quick seemed bound to have a better performance and was connected to the game. However, Vancouver cracked the game open in the second period when a Cracknell shot had just enough momentum to flutter over the line, despite Quick getting a piece of it. A little bad ice, and the puck doesn't go in. Later in the period, a blue line shot from Alexander Edler beat Quick after he was screened by players from both teams. Surprisingly, that was it! Quick looked competent most of the night and made some pretty good saves. He also finished well above .900 on the night. Hurrah!
Most of the Kings issues that came up were repeats of games prior. They struggled to maintain offensive zone time after entry and also rarely connected sequences of passes. In short, it seemed like they were so focused on getting a scoring chance that they weren't playing to the fundamentals of their game. Right now, they are sitting with a dismal team shooting percentage under 2%, which will have to get better.
The desperate push to score a goal was emphasized when Sutter pulled the goalie before the three minute mark in the third period, which leads me to believe someone may have body snatched Sutter. This resulted into an empty net goal when Milan Lucic fired the puck into a mass of bodies in front of the net, which was blocked and turned up the ice. In general, the Kings had a lot of shots blocked as they tried to force the issue on offense. To focus on the positive, the Kings did a fairly decent job of clogging the neutral zone coming the other way, gave up fewer odd man rushes (including leading scoring chances overall), and were generally better defensively.
Even more positive is the fact that the Kings didn't turn frustration into aggression by taking chippy penalties and engaging in fights (save the bog standard Andreoff fight because apparently he needs nerves beaten out of him). Greene did have a poor night when it came to penalties, and he essentially took two consecutive penalties early in the second. Not surprisingly, he spent most of the third warming the bench. The first line of Brown, Kopitar and Gaborik did fine as well, with their six shots representing 40% of the team total. It's early, but Kopitar is near the team lead in shots on goal, so he clearly values the opinions of the Jewelers. Most positive of all, Dustin Brown did not look like he was auditioning for a Road House remake, and Milan Lucic did not reveal himself to be a Goblin King whose manifest destiny was to steal babies.
As rough as the first three games have been, it seems like the Kings are a few steps away from executing and gaining confidence to play smartly rather than desperately. They will certainly need to be on their game when a good Minnesota Wild team rolls into town Friday night.