Funny how sometimes a bounce can prove to be the game winner or loser. It wasn’t quite a bad bounce as it was a lost face-off draw and a poor read by Andy Andreoff that led to Jimmy Hayes being credited with the game-winning goal off a snapshot from former LA King Colin Miller.
Unlike games past where Peter Budaj has looked a little shaky, he was solid and continued his fine effort from Pittsburgh’s game on Friday. It was the rest of the team that looked weary and like they were missing their typical afternoon, pre-game nap. The Bruins were better, but not by much. Neither team as a whole was very inspiring, although it wasn’t “burn the tape” bad. Maybe just use it if you have insomnia and can’t sleep. This was basically low-event hockey at its worst, without even a faux rivalry or a dumb fight to generate much intrigue.
Tyler Toffoli has continued his mission of being whatever the Lady Byng is awarded, somehow earning a double minor for high-sticking Zdeno Chara, who is like 12 feet tall.
There was a brief scare for Kyle Clifford after he went hard into the end boards but later returned to the game, which is good news for Clifford. The Kings could probably live without him in the lineup for a while (sorry, Clifford).
Notably, Marian Gaborik, Kevin Gravel and Dustin Brown were all scratched today. Gravel sat out his second game in a row while Gaborik was a healthy scratch for the first time since he came to LA. Brown is reportedly day-to-day with an upper-body injury (please, no jokes about the injury being brick hands — too obvious). Gaborik certainly struggled against Pittsburgh, but honestly, who didn’t besides Budaj? Hopefully this is a good eye opener for Darryl Sutter that Jordan Nolan and Andreoff are not going to be a substitute for the skills that Gaborik brings.
LA was perfect on the penalty kill and completely imperfect on the power play, which looked as ineffective as it has all season, fruitlessly generating few scoring chances and giving up at least two different shorthanded rushes against, one of which very nearly scored if not for Budaj being aware and reading the play well.
While this was the third game in four nights, the Kings will need to pick up the energy as they square off against the red hot Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday before facing back-to-back Western Conference foes prior to the Christmas break.
If LA is to keep pace in the playoff race (which so far sees them barely edging out Calgary and Winnipeg for a wild card spot), they’ll need to start collecting points on the road. Nashville and Dallas, whom they will face on the 22nd and 23rd respectively, are chasing the Kings, which means those games will have a lot of meaning for all three clubs heading into the break.