It’s always the ones you don’t expect, isn’t it? The problem is, against the Hurricanes, you don’t really expect anyone.
That’s not a slight against the Hurricanes. They’re in Carolina, they don’t get a lot of press even when they are doing well, and they haven’t done too well in quite some time. So that’s why the players you recognize are either the ones who have been there for years (Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk, Cam Ward, Jordan Staal) or the ones they got from teams you hate (Teuvo Teravainen, Eddie Lack).
So in any game where Carolina’s depth players beat you, you’re probably left saying... who?
Yesterday, “who” consisted of Derek Ryan and Brock McGinn. Derek is a cool story; he’s 5’10”, went undrafted, played Canadian college hockey, won MVP awards in both Austria and Sweden, and finally earned a cup of coffee with Carolina at the age of 29. Brock, doesn’t have the story, but he’s a good prospect and he’s got the name, which is why you got his first name wrong twice before giving up. (Jamie is with the Arizona Coyotes, and Tye is with the Syracuse Crunch.)
Those two sum up the team, though, as they’ve got a mixture of young guys getting a whole lot better real quick and older guys who have fallen out of favor elsewhere. They’ve drawn some comparisons to the Kings due to their strong Corsi and less-strong record. And yesterday, they beat LA clean.
From the Kings’ end, we had our eye on Jeff Zatkoff and the defense. Returns were mixed. On one hand, Zatkoff gave up three goals, but the Kings only allowed 18 shots. Goaltending bad, defense good, right? On the other hand, the first two goals (both by Ryan) were on rushes, Ryan made a crazy move on the first one, and the second was an equally pretty shorthanded 2-on-1. And the third goal (McGinn’s) came from the slot after he beat Doughty to the net. Zatkoff got deked out of his... everything... on the first goal, but those were three great opportunities, and the defense didn’t help on any of them.
The shorthanded nature of the second goal is equally concerning, given LA’s power play issues and Carolina’s top-ranked penalty kill. It was the end of a power play, which is why Jordan Nolan was out there with Anze Kopitar, but Nolan had the puck taken away and Kopitar tried and failed to get there and interrupt Jaccob Slavin’s clear. That’s how you end up here:
Great goal, but a deflating one. You can see in the Fenwick chart below (from hockeystats.ca) how it took the wind out of the sails of LA. Before Ryan’s shorthander, they were getting shots through, while Carolina had barely a handful of unblocked shot attempts. After the goal, the Kings went flat. Literally.
Drew Doughty scored on a well-executed play with about eight minutes left, but before that, LA was struggling to get any chances. Zatkoff is going to soak up a lot of blame, but Darryl Sutter (perhaps correctly) targeted the Kings’ top players for not getting things going after three days off. Jon Rosen’s got the full quote, but you only need to see an expletive to know how frustrated the coach was.
Speaking of: the Kings have been [expletive] on the road this season. After Saturday, they play nine in a row away from home. Better make the last one count.