180 minutes, 89 shots, and zero goals for the Los Angeles Kings in the last three games. Sometimes you just have to laugh.
.... Well, maybe we’ll laugh tomorrow.
For a while, it didn’t look like tonight was going to be as awful as it was. Sure, the first period was rather dull, but who ever said that was a bad thing? The Anaheim Ducks were coming off of three days of rest, while the Kings played on both Saturday and Sunday. Even so, LA was pretty much locked in on defense, and though they were generating no real chances the other way, a scoreless 20 minutes never hurt anyone. Except there were the Kings losing a faceoff, and there was no-longer-inactive Rickard Rakell grabbing the puck and wristing one at Peter Budaj, and there was Budaj failing to close up that five-hole, and there was a 1-0 deficit after one.
Suddenly, memories of an unhappier time came flooding back. That time was exactly two weeks ago. On October 18, from pretty much the same spot on the ice, Jason Pominville beat Jeff Zatkoff with 12 seconds remaining in the first to give Minnesota an intermission lead. The Kings proceeded to allow three goals in 4:30 in the second period, decisively losing a game they must have felt pretty good about for nineteen minutes.
Trying to avoid a similar fate, LA instead did the worst thing they could have done: they went to the box. Jake Muzzin took a double minor for high-sticking. LA killed off a Derek Forbort double minor on Sunday night, but this PK never had a chance; Antoine Vermette found space in between three Kings and easily beat Budaj from the slot within the first two minutes of the power play, and Ryan Getzlaf fired an inch-perfect feed to Ryan Kesler 31 seconds later for another slam-dunk goal. This time the Kings held out for 7:26 before giving up the third goal of the second, but allowing that goal to be scored by Joseph Cramarossa made this one feel a lot worse than the Wild’s similar feat.
Cramarossa’s wraparound bounced in off Alec Martinez, making it a 4-0 game, and given the Kings’ struggle to score, it felt like a done deal. And it was. The Kings have spent the last couple games fielding four lines that each contain a guy who has yet to find the net this season, and though Devin Setoguchi and Dwight King haven’t been total black holes for offense this year, it doesn’t look like either is going to score any time soon. So what’s the answer? Does LA put Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson — who have played all of five minutes together at 5v5 this season — on one line, hoping they can drive the offense? Is moving Dustin Brown into the top six going to help at all? Is putting Jeff Carter on Anze Kopitar’s wing and moving Nic Dowd up to second-line center totally insane, or just crazy enough to work?
Or... do the Kings trust the process, rather than the result? The process obviously hasn’t resulted in any goals lately, but Jake Allen, Corey Crawford, and John Gibson all had save percentages above .920 last season. And aside from the Kings, St. Louis, Chicago, and Anaheim had three of the four stingiest defenses in the Western Conference in 2015-16. Goals were going to be hard to come by without Marian Gaborik, and Brayden McNabb was an unfortunate loss. And again, 89 shots with ZERO goals is pretty darn unlikely no matter where you’re shooting from.
Again, though, when did it ever feel like something was going to happen for the Kings tonight? (And, no, I’m not counting two Kyle Clifford fights or a borderline Tom Gilbert hit as “something.”) It wasn’t a game that the Kings deserved to win, even if they deserved to score on one of those fourteen shot attempts in the final eight meaningless minutes. Pittsburgh is coming to town, and a similar effort will give us a similar result.
Last time LA lost their third straight (yep, that Minnesota game), we asked for silver linings. Tonight, we won’t ask, we’ll just give you one: Jeff Carter is a father!
Beautiful collage of Kings players with their children pic.twitter.com/2tCoH5Q0My— Jewels frm the Crown (@JFTC_Kings) March 15, 2015
No, but like, for real. Darryl?
That’s a positive – Jeff and Megan had a little boy. That’s why Jeff – he was up all night. That’s awesome.
Congrats to Jeff. For the rest of you who will actually be able to get plenty of sleep tonight, do it and get back to it on Thursday.