Were you fooled by the Dallas game? It’s okay to admit you were. I’ll own up to it, I completely bought into the idea that maybe, as the season hurtles down the end stretch, the Kings had committed themselves as an entity to actually playing with pace and responsibility in their own zone.
Sorry. My bad.
In complete opposition to the controlled, nearly-perfect game the Kings played against the Stars, the Kings came out and gave up three (okay, four) goals in the first period. And Nashville’s such a defensively sound team that a three-goal lead is basically death.
Let’s just get this over with, shall we?
The Kings finally won a goalie interference challenge! Early in the first period, it appeared that Ryan Johansen scored, but the Kings challenged and won for the first time all season. The officials ruled that Drew Doughty was pushed into Jonathan Quick, preventing him from playing his position. (Whether or not Doughty had an opportunity to move out of the way more quickly is debatable.)
There were a few sparks of life in the second? Anze Kopitar had a good look?
Uh. Well. Was there anything else?
Another good thing is that I muted the game during a commercial before the second to watch a video of Jeopardy players failing to answer football questions, and then forgot to un-mute it, and then missed most of the second period. That’s honestly a good thing for my blood pressure.
Anze Kopitar came with inches of making the save of the year and bailing out Jonathan Quick. The refs on ice initially called it no goal, but The Situation Room In Toronto interrupted the game to review, where the officials discovered that the puck did indeed cross the line.
We didn’t see any nonsensical fights, no one tried to be a tough guy to spark the team. They took the loss and didn’t prolong any of our misery.
But maybe the best thing is that the game mercifully ended. We are not trapped watching this game in perpetuity.
The power play had one opportunity in the first, the Kings took no shots and spent more time trying to regroup in their zone.
The usually sturdy penalty kill collapsed very quickly in the first, allowing two goals. The first came on a five-on-three for the Predators — which the Predators received because of one (1) behind-the-play holding call against Torrey Mitchell, followed literally five seconds later by one (1) delay of game call on a poor clearing attempt from Doughty. Like. My dudes. You’ve just got to be better than that.
Jonathan Quick didn’t look any less shaky with the puck after his time off to deal with a nagging injury. One came when he turned over the puck himself. Two of the goals against came as Quick couldn’t control a puck after making the first stop.
I don’t know what his particular injury is, but if his lapses in play are connected to it in any way, maybe he should go back to sitting out for a bit.
Of course, you can’t pin the whole loss on Quick, as it’s not his fault that the players in front of him were turnover machines. Most of the players were invisible tonight. Off the top of my head, I can remember specific plays from Doughty (who came inches from getting a goal, if only the puck would have deflected the other direction after hitting the post) and Kopitar. I saw a few good passes from Nick Shore (he set up the Doughty opportunity). Derek Forbort tried to crash the net once, which, sure, okay, whatever, at least he tried. Trevor Lewis and Tanner Pearson led the team with three shots each, or 32% total of the Kings shots all night.
Everyone else? Pretty much forgettable.
The Kings couldn’t break out of their own zone the whole night. The team as a whole mustered just 19 shots on goal, including an absolutely pathetic four (four!!) in the third period. By comparison, the Kings put 15 shots on Ben Bishop in both the second and third periods in the Dallas game — particularly notable in a third period where after the first minute of play, they were already up 3-0. They didn’t need to put 15 shots on net, but they sure did anyway.
And as if five goals against and a completely forgettable performance wasn’t enough, there’s also this:
Lower-body injury for Alec Martinez, via LAK.— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) February 2, 2018
The team returns home to take on Arizona on Saturday. Meanwhile, the rest of the West is catching up. Anaheim’s overtime loss tonight gave them only one point, but that was enough for them to jump over the Kings and push them out of a playoff spot. Dallas’ win over Arizona helps further entrench them in the first wild card seed. Colorado and Calgary are just one point back of the Kings.
As usual, the Kings are getting to the end of the runway, and no one’s sure yet if they’re going to be able to take off.