Blackhawks at Kings: Neverending Story
The Kings lost 5-3 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night. It wasn’t entirely surprising, since dropping games has been the trend for the LA team since late December. However, this one stung in a fresh way. On top of besting the Blackhawks in the possession game, the Kings also managed to overcome some of their scoring woes. They scored three times instead of getting shut out, and they even tied the game after going down two in the first period, but it didn’t matter against the NHL’s best offensive team.
Anze Kopitar. He was on the ice for three goals against, but he also had a three-point night and has been the majority of the Kings’ offense in this last stretch.
Tyler Toffoli. Kopitar generally makes anyone he’s on the ice with better, and it’s been great to see Toffoli alongside him the last couple games. Since getting more minutes on a stronger line and some power play time, he’s been rediscovering his ability to generate quality chances, including gaining the zone with control and making a pass that eventually resulted in the Kings’ tying goal from Kopitar. He also finished on a scramble in front of the net in the third to get his first goal in 16 games. More Toffoli!
Second Line. Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, and Justin Williams were the line with the best possession numbers and managed to hit the post once or twice. If they keep up that hustle, hopefully the actual goals come soon.
Second Period. Yeah, they ended the second down 3-2, but the Kings turned around sloppy play during the first period and dominated the Blackhawks in the second period. They tied the game at two and outshot Chicago 15-7, giving life to Kings fans when they’ve mostly played terribly during the middle period all season. I’m calling it a positive.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Discipline. Four different Kings players took penalties in the first period. That’s disgusting. One resulted in a power play goal against. That’s disgusting. They managed to cool it in the second, but then allowed another PPGA during a penalty Greene took in the third. They gave up a 3-on-1 where Robyn Regehr, of all people, was the defenseman trying to take on Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw, and Bryan Bickell. After limiting the Flyers to 13 shots on goal on Saturday, they allowed the Blackhawks to get 30 SOG. Want to beat a good offensive team? Can’t let them get that many opportunities.
Jonathan Quick. Since shutting out the San Jose Sharks in the Kings’ only win in their last nine games, Quick has put up a .786 save percentage. Not all of the goals against have been bad goals. In this game, there was even a goal deflected past him by Matt Greene, followed by a goal where two Kings players screened him, but letting in five goals in a game where the Kings skaters finally generate some offense, and after games where he allowed two on thirteen shots and two on seven shots — it’s not a good look.
Despite the loss, the improvement in offense provides a silver lining for this Kings team. They now also get an actual off day before having another practice and then taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, so hopefully the rest and momentum generated against Chicago will carry over. One win can’t erase all the frustration of the last month and change, but it would be a hopeful step in a direction that doesn’t make fans want to drive off the side of the nearest mountain.