The Los Angeles Kings are probably not as good as their record indicates. However, tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames was the perfect microcosm boiled down into one game of everything wrong with the Kings this season. After a very good early start, the Kings seemed to stop skating and allowed the Flames to take over. In fact, they were sort of fortunate to even be up 2-0, despite the fact that Mike Smith is old and terrible. There was some bad luck involved as the Kings pelted Smith with 13 shots and only one went in. Calgary always has infinity luck against LA and it showed again with the single goal of that sequence.
But the problem was that after that goal, the Kings basically stopped skating. Oh sure, it looked pretty but they went into a defensive shell early on and from there were constantly playing catch up with the Flames.
They’ve become something of a rush team this season so it doesn’t really show up in their corsis when they do something well and it pays off as it did for Tanner Pearson.
Unfortunately, it was disastrous sequence after disastrous sequence that led to four goals (including the go-ahead tally) in the second period. The middle frame has often been quite a let down for the Kings this season and boy was this one bad. Actually, bad is putting it mildly. This was almost as big a debacle as the five minutes in which the Kings ceded four goals to the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this season. Except this one had a little help from Kurtis MacDermid and Jonathan Quick.
Speaking of the netminder, while he was quite busy tonight, he was also quite not good. Sure he did his best to bail out the Kings, but he also hurt them with three very poor goals. The first came from Micheal Ferland, who somehow has 16 goals this year?? Anyway, Johnny Gaudreau is crashing the net with Alec Martinez hot on his heels. Gaudreau can’t pick his perfect spot, which is good, though he still manages to get a shot off, which turns out to be bad. Andy Andreoff is backchecking Ferland. To be fair to Andreoff, he’s in a decent position to prevent Ferland from doing much but it’s not enough to prevent him from getting off a shot. This is where Quick comes into play. He didn’t control Gaudreau’s initial shot and he just seemed to whiff on the Ferland shot. What should’ve been a routine play between Andreoff and his netminder turned into the first goal against.
On the second goal, Quick again seemed to lose sight of the puck.
He simply doesn’t pick up where the rebound goes. It’s like he was unaware of what actually happened on this play.
The go-ahead goal came courtesy of a Kurtis MacDermid turnover in the corner. A simple routine play once again was bobbled. The puck hit MacDermid’s skates or something and popped out to the center of the ice to Mark Jankowski who was all alone in front as the rest of MacDermid’s teammates were waiting to start the breakout. Quick wasn’t in a great position to react so the rebound went back to Jankowski who kind of chested the puck into the net. According to Jim Fox on the broadcast, it went off his midsection and it didn’t really appear to Fox that Jankowski batted it in with his hands, which would’ve been illegal.
Alright fine. Things are getting ugly and Calgary’s infinity luck is rearing its ugly head once again, though not without a little help from some players having massive brain farts on the ice. The eventual game-winning goal came with seconds left in the period. There is literally one minute to escape into the locker room down a goal with the final frame coming up being the team’s best period all season long. Except Sean Monahan had other ideas. The defense did a poor job of limiting Monahan in any capacity. In fact, it seems that the forwards had a little confusion as to who was supposed to cover who. Anze Kopitar and Oscar Fantenberg converged on the same player at the same time while Derek Forbort made a desperate attempt to hold up his man. Meanwhile, Pearson trailed behind the play and is likely the responsible culprit. However, Monahan’s shot was weak and Quick failed to close up the five-hole in time.
Pearson did make up for it later on with the goalie pulled. He found the puck in his skates off a Drew Doughty feed and beat Smith. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Kings would come, despite having 90 seconds left on the clock to try and score again.
This marks the first time all season that the Kings have lost in regulation when scoring three or more goals. I suppose it would help if they didn’t have to constantly play catch up all the time.
Next up, the Kings will play their final game before their bye week. They’ll come home to face the Nashville Predators, who have largely found success in Los Angeles. The big question remains: Will the Kings be able to focus long enough to win that game or will they succumb to overlooking their opponent in favor of a long break?