It is preached by many players and coaches in the league that in order to get the offense going, the main priority is to get as many shots on goal regardless of where the shot selection comes from. It is a formula that the Los Angeles Kings have done early and often in this young season. While it has not led to many wins in the standings (yet), Los Angeles has seen their 2.43 goals per game pace last season balloon to 4.00.
But sometimes goalies can play the role of spoiler which was the case tonight as the Hurricanes picked up their league-leading sixth victory in a 2-0 game against the Kings.
This marks the first decision that Jack Campbell has lost in 2019-20. Campbell was not tasked with a busy night in the office as the defense limited the Hurricanes’ attack, as the 22 shots faced was the lowest shot volume he has seen from an opponent this year. He did the best he could to keep his team in the game but the Kings couldn’t solve Petr Mrazek en route to a 31-save shutout.
With Jonathan Quick’s future uncertain with the only franchise he has played for in his 13-year career, Campbell is only packing his briefcase with experience that he hopes lands him the starting gig sooner than later.
Los Angeles entered tonight’s game averaging the second most shots per game in the league (37.4) and kept Carolina netminder Petr Mrazek busy in the first period Tuesday night, mustering 17 shots on goal but to no avail. So it was appropriate to see the most valuable tool for a hockey player, a stick, be broken four times. Twice at the expense of Ilya Kovalchuk, while a wholehearted whack at the post by Anze Kopitar after an empty netter capped a flustering night.
Frustrations began to boil when the the Kings struggled to get any offense going in the second period, finally reminding Mrazek that he had keeping duties with a tickler 12 minutes in for their first shot. Carolina’s hounding defense in the first seemed to be getting to the Kings, as Los Angeles was adjusting to how their opposition was playing and not vice versa.
Sensing this, the Hurricanes utilized a 9-3 shot advantage to chip away at Campbell before breaking the seal on Ryan Dzingel’s feed from Gretzky’s office (in front of the royalty’s barn) that had three Kings defenders in limbo as Martin Necas was left with more space in the slot than Michael Strahan’s front teeth.
With a new head coach at the helm and young players infiltrating the Kings lineups, the rebuilding process has its share of growing pains. You can always prepare for the next level but nothing beats having reps at the professional circuit as allows you to build the habit of not afraid to make mistakes as a young player. That being said, it is encouraging to see Blake Lizotte take on that challenge with seven NHL games under his belt at the ripe age of 21.
His display of fast-twitch speed was appropriate on a night where Staples Center was honoring the Los Angeles Chargers. To see him beat three guys to an abandoned puck in the neutral zone while on the penalty kill was nothing short of brilliant. Lizotte’s ability to turn on the jets was reminiscent to that of Carl Hagelin but with much more offensive upside than the Swede who scored just one goal in 22 games in 2018-19 for the black and silver. It is no wonder that his playing style has earned him praise from the coaching staff, referring to him as a “mosquito in a dark tent.“
Sebastian Aho help put a stamp on two points with an empty netter while shorthanded.
What coach had to say:
“I thought it was a very evenly played game. We’re chasing parts of our game right now that we have to continue to work on, but I wasn’t real disappointed in the effort or the will to get things done”— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) October 16, 2019
Coach Todd McLellan shares his thoughts after tonight’s loss @LAKings pic.twitter.com/s1b672s4Kx
Up Next: The Buffalo Sabres will pay a visit to Staples Center on Thursday. Ralph Kreuger’s work so far has the league’s ears perked up with the Sabres atop the Atlantic Division with a 5-0-1 record.