Maybe it’s the “Movember” facial hair, or maybe it’s just the recently home-tilted schedule, but Wednesday night’s 4-1 Staples Center victory over the Islanders was the King’s sixth victory this month, tying a franchise record for most November wins. The Islanders, who suffered their second straight regulation loss after going 15-0-2 over their last 17 games, probably found themselves riding the red-eye back home, wondering why it’s so hard for them to score goals in California, having scored a total of three goals over their last three games, including Wednesday’s loss in Los Angeles, Monday’s shutout loss at Anaheim, and Saturday’s one-goal overtime loss at San Jose.
The Kings were not led tonight by one particular player or spectacular performance. Nor did they necessarily outplay the visiting Isles in any facet of the game, except for the one that actually counts, which is how may times you light the lamp. In fact, the Islanders won more face-offs than the Kings and outhit them by the substantial margin of 29-11. The Kings also had 16 giveaways, which NHL.com defines as “an unforced error that results in giving the puck up to the opposition” as opposed to the Islanders, who had only 11. What Los Angeles did have tonight was 20+ guys wearing silver and black who simply worked hard for sixty minutes and kept playing solid hockey despite falling behind early and being 1-10 this year after letting in the first goal.
In his fourth consecutive start Jonathan Quick allowed only one goal in 25 shots, raising his season record to 7-9-3, with a 3.33 GAA and an .885 save percentage. Of course, those overall numbers can in no way be considered “good”. But considering how poorly Quick played at the beginning of the season, the fact that he has allowed only eight goals over the last four games indicates that Quick is not yet ready to give up his starting position to either Jack Campbell or Cal Petersen. Additionally, all-time franchise leader in games played Dustin Brown’s bad angle first period goal is a real-life example of Wayne Gretzky's old adage that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. It is also proof that large, butterfly-style goalies who play on their knees (which is basically everybody these days) are vulnerable to the high short side over the shoulder.
Finally, it wasn’t just the veterans like Quick, Carter and Brown who led the team to victory. As noted by Fox Sports West color commentator Jim Fox (a super nice guy and a good Twitter follow) despite not getting an official assist on the Kings second goal, rookie Blake Lizotte’s rush up the right side absolutely set that play in motion.
Tonight marked the first of three games in four days for the Kings as they travel to San Jose for a Friday matinee before returning home to close out the month Saturday night versus Winnipeg. The December schedule features 15 games, but only four at home. It includes a six game road trip and two separate road back to backs, one at Calgary / Edmonton and the other at San Jose / Vancouver. The road was not kind to the Kings in October. Hopefully, they pack some home cooking for while they are away the next few weeks, just like the Thanksgiving leftovers my Mom used to pack for me. Happy Holidays to everyone. GO KINGS GO!