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Off-Day Watch 1/16: Swing and a miss

Whoops.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Minnesota Wild Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings have only played in two games that went to a shootout this season: a win against the Chicago Blackhawks (Cal Petersen’s first NHL start and win) and last night against the Minnesota Wild. In the game against the Blackhawks, Ilya Kovalchuk and Anze Kopitar both scored on Corey Crawford, while Petersen turned away both shots that he faced.

Last night’s shootout loss wasn’t necessarily entirely on Jonathan Quick—most goalies probably would have bit on Jason Zucker’s move that he scored on.

Instead, let’s talk about Willie Desjardins’ player decisions on who to put out for the shootout.

First up: Ilya Kovalchuk. Not a bad choice; he’s 25 for 64 (39.1%) in his career, and scored a nifty one against Chicago in his first shootout try for the Kings. He’s known as a shooter, and rightly so. Last night’s didn’t go so well, though:

Kovalchuk, despite scoring a goal last night and being an overtime hero against San Jose, didn’t take the ice in overtime, so he had relatively fresh legs. He looked to have a poor handle on the puck from the beginning, though; while he usually swings wide to start his skate in to the net, this swing was even wider than usual and it looked like he struggled with the puck.

Anze Kopitar similarly didn’t have his best attempt last night. He’s 38 for 100 in his career and a fairly reliable performer in the shootout, but his shot against Wild netminder Alex Stalock just didn’t have it. He played 2:44 in overtime, including 1:15 on the penalty kill, for a total of 23:01 in the game.

And then we have Dustin Brown, a respectable 19 for 64 (29.7%) in his career. He’s the sort of player other teams may underestimate, known more for deflections and tip-ins than goals that show off his hands, but he’s surprised a time or two before. Unfortunately, Brown did, well, this:

He whiffed on his shot, and it sure didn’t look like a Nikita Kucherov-type intentional whiff, either.

While Brown was still able to get a real shot off, Stalock made the stop, and that was the game. Brown played 19:55 overall, including 57 seconds in overtime, before taking the ice for his penalty shot attempt.

Some other options for the Kings, who Willie Desjardins chose not to give a chance to?

  • Adrian Kempe, who’s two for three in his career and played only 49 seconds during overtime.
  • Jeff Carter, who’s 13 for 38 (34.2%) over his tenure with the Kings, and who’s had two solid games in a row.
  • Brendan Leipsic, who’s never scored in the shootout but who seems to be Desjardins’ newest project, and maybe he would have surprised everyone?
  • Matt Luff, because what’s better than sending a kid out who’s never done an NHL shootout before to put the game on his stick?

I had initially planned on making the case for Tyler Toffoli, but:

Never mind.

Kings Things

Jonathan Quick kept the Kings close, but they couldn’t finish the job for him. [Jewels from the Crown]

The Wild just wanted to show they could still win against bad teams. You’re welcome. [Hockey Wilderness]

Post game notes and reactions from Willie Desjardins, Jeff Carter, and Alec Martinez. [Kings Insider]

Hmm, put Ilya Kovalchuk with skilled players and he produces points, you say? [The Athletic]

More on the Iafallos:

Former Kings Things

Oh no:

Elsewhere

On the history of the Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, and how it’s about more than just hockey. [College Hockey News]

This might feel relevant over here: on the Blackhawks’ low playoff chances. [Second City Hockey]

Everyone’s talking about the Whitecaps’ hot start, but the Buffalo Beauts might be the team to beat in the NWHL. [The Ice Garden]

Are we actually going to avoid a lockout at the end of the current CBA? [The Athletic]

Oh, Flower:

Ranking the greatest thing in hockey, the Carolina Hurricanes’ victory celebrations. [NBC Sports]

The Devils have struggled in net, but Mackenzie Blackwood may be turning their fortunes around. [The Athletic]

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia... [Broad Street Hockey]

Could the Penguins be moving Derick Brassard soon? [PensBurgh]

After a scary ordeal on an icy lake, former NHLer John Scott is just happy to be alive. [The Athletic]

The Washington Capitals invited the Metro Maple Leafs, a Maryland youth team, to a recent game. Devante Smith-Pelly and John Carlson invited them after media attention turned to defenseman Divyne Apollon II, the only black player on the team, who was subject to racist taunts at a recent tournament. [The Color of Hockey]

With the wheels set in motion for Seattle to be a team, who should be considered for front office jobs? [The Athletic]

Former NWHL player Harrison Browne dropped the puck at the New York Rangers’ Hockey is for Everyone night:

Evening Entertainment

Oh boy is there a dearth of interesting looking games on tonight. Do some advance scouting of one of the Kings upcoming opponents; the Colorado Avalanche take on the Ottawa Senators today at 4:00 pm Pacific. That one can be viewed on the NHL’s subscription streaming platform.