The Kings entered play losers of 14 of their last 16 games. Twitter continued their assault on Willie Desjardins after a lackluster defeat to the Nashville Predators and I personally took him to task in our Jewels recap, imploring him, “If you want to get more young guys going, go look in the mirror and see the reason why they aren’t.”
Somehow I felt fairly strong about Willie reading the column prior to practice on Friday and letting the facts that Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli have sub-seven shooting percentages and never score (Carter two months since his last goal, Toffoli one month) sink in. I was certain that the interim coach would start as many of the young guys as possible and sit one of the underperforming veterans.
Oh boy, was I wrong. In his infinite wisdom, hockey visionary Desjardins tabbed 2018-19 scapegoat Ilya Kovalchuk as his veteran scratch, and then nixed Johnny Brodzinski (for the second game in a row), along with Paul LaDue. “That’s a hard thing. He’s a good person, he takes lots of pride in what he does. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. Whenever you do anything like that, it’s always hard,” said Desjardins on how difficult it was Kovalchuk that he would be a healthy scratch.
With the Kings having offense to spare (31st in the league in scoring, 109 goals behind the Tampa Bay Lightning), they went with the formidable 11 forward / 7 defensemen lineup once again. “It allows me a little bit to get my centermen a little bit more involved in the game, which I like our guys through the middle,” Willie reported.
After surging to a 3-2 lead through two periods, Los Angeles wilted once again in the third as the Florida Panthers defeated the Kings 4-3 on Saturday for their fourth straight win. On the flipside, the Kings have now dropped 15 of their last 16 games.
Things were looking good for the Kings as Anze Kopitar put the Kings ahead 3-2 at 9:44 after Brendan Leipsic tied the game 2-2 1:05 into the third period. But that only woke up the Panthers.
Jonathan Huberdeau had his shot at the near post slip under Quick’s skate at 18:04 after Evgenii Dadonov scored from the slot on a drop pass from Huberdeau at 13:47 of the third period to tie it at 3-3. Rookie Sam Montembeault (4-0-1) survived a last-minute post ringer from Adrian Kempe and made 24 saves to win his fourth consecutive start.
** - Time to Editorialize
Dear Willie: If you are going to continually blow smoke at the Kings’ fan base about wanting to play the young guys more and get them going, how about you stop with this silly 11 F / 7 D lineup? And, if you do choose to go with this lineup with an offensively-challenged team and sit a young forward who needs the NHL time, how about you find a way to play your seventh defenseman (Kurtis MacDermid) more than 3:43? How ridiculous is it that you could have given Brodzinski some quality minutes tonight but the player you chose in his spot played six shifts? Instead, it looks like you are punishing him. You’re supposed to be a coach of men, building character in a lost season. Instead you look look incompetent, or even worse, petty.
The Game 71 Scoring
Panthers 1. Kings 0.
Panthers 1. Kings 1.
Panthers 2. Kings 1.
Panthers 2. Kings 2.
Kings 3. Panthers 2.
Kings 3. Panthers 3.
Panthers 4. Kings 3.
Next: It’s Drew Doughty Bobblehead Night at Staples Center on Monday, March 18th as the Kings host the Winnipeg Jets.
Aleksander Barkov collected three assists to reach the 80-point mark for the first time. Only two other @FlaPanthers players have ever done so: Olli Jokinen (2005-06 and 2006-07) and Pavel Bure (1999-00 and 2000-01). https://t.co/w2AOM7Veed #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/QPe1S24twG— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 16, 2019
Lose For Hughes: