Kings at Penguins: Serial Killers
When the first few injuries to the Pittsburgh Penguins happened, Diane and I joked on the podcast about how most players had clearly made some demon bargain to absorb all the injury misfortune so that Sidney Crosby could have a full season again. After losing Evgeni Malkin again recently, and then seeing Marcel Goc likely break his ankle during the game against the Kings last night, it’s almost a wonder to me that the Penguins have still managed to put together as many as wins as they have. They’ve been an injury balancing act for months.
Now you can re-enact the Penguins season with friends!
Still, this hobbled team beat the Kings handily at the end of January. Not only were the Kings unable to score goals then, but undisciplined play early in the game led to penalties, which lead to goals against because the Penguins’ power play has been tops all season.
THE GOOD NEWS
The Kings didn’t allow a single PPG goal last night. Only one puck trickled through during any of their kills but was ultimately (and fortunately) waved off for goaltender interference.
They also scored a power play goal of their own, meaning we all continue to exist in a world where the Kings PP is threatening again. How about that?
THE BAD NEWS
They went on the penalty kill seven times.
Bizarrely, the Kings had started to clean up their discipline recently. After spending a large portion of the season as one of the top three most-penalized teams, they’ve now dropped to seventh-most penalized. That control was absent last night. Each penalty was taken by a different player, and four of six were tripping calls. They can’t expect every team to go 0-for-7 with the man advantage, so the Kings need to never repeat this penalty party.
Playing three games in four nights also saw the Kings start pretty slowly. Though they never trailed on the scoreboard, they were unable to dominate in possession against a Pittsburgh team that’s been average at best this season.
Here are the visualizations from Extra Skater. In all situations:
At even strength:
Some of that struggle was due to the number of penalties taken. Still, their strongest effort came during the third period, where they increased their attack even with the lead and managed to best the Penguins at even strength by the end of the game.
Alec Martinez! No one rudely waved off his goal this game, bringing him up to six in the last 13 games, and 11 total points in the last 13.
Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik have been getting more and more effective together, picking up a combined total of 14 points since Gaborik’s first game witn LA. They both picked up assists on Jeff Carter’s goal against Pittsburgh.
Honorable mention to Drew Doughty who broke his goal drought and put the Kings ahead. Dustin Brown picking up an assist on that goal means he’s still contributing quite a bit since the Olympics, too.
All this post-Olympic success has the Kings back to tying and breaking records again. With the win over Pittsburgh, the Kings have now won 8 straight road games, tying the franchise record set in 1975. If they win four more games before the end of the regular season, they’ll set a new record for most wins by any Kings team in one regular season.
So, even with the dips they’ve had in 2013-14, this team is still one of the best teams in Kings history. They’re still holding on to 3rd place in the Pacific Division and remain healthy as the postseason gets closer and closer.
Guess there’s nothing left for me to do but to be… happy… about it? Yeah, I’m happy about it! What a cool feeling.