For the seventh straight time, the Kings couldn’t find a way to come out on top against the Chicago Blackhawks, and for the fifth straight time, they lost in regulation, and for the fourth straight time, by just one goal, while they also were again unable to beat an elite team, the type of team that the Kings were supposed to be able to beat this year.
We are now past the quarter mark of the season, and the Kings are 11-8-4. In other words, it’s not that early anymore, and the Kings have lost more than they’ve won. It took the Kings 15 games to record their 12th win last year. This year the Kings are heading into their 24th game still searching for their 12th win. While there’s still lots of time to turn it around, the Kings are once again looking like a team that will just be fighting to get into the playoffs, rather than one of the conference’s top teams and the legit contender that they were supposed to be this year. Will they turn it around on their own, or does this team need a change? If this continues much longer, I think the Kings will have no choice but to make a change. The expectations were so high this year, it’s been a long time since a season was hyped up this much. This kind of play for much longer isn’t going to be acceptable.
There is so much that is going wrong with the Kings right now. The power play has been awful lately, it looks like a dog playing fetch with its owner. It’s the same thing every time. Dump it in, turn it over, have it cleared, repeat for the rest of the power play. It looks like they think the point of a power play is to see how many times it can get cleared. The most frustrating thing is, yes, they sometimes have to dump it in if the Blackhawks are playing a system where they stay back at the blue line and the Kings can’t carry it by them, but the Kings’ opponents always seem to just be able to carry it in with ease against the Kings and can play with puck possession and not have to dump it in and turn it over, like the Kings always do. In fact, it’s basically the same thing at even strength, too. They can’t score, period. They don’t know how to play in the third period whether it’s with or without the lead, and quite frankly, this team is just immature. I mean, it’s not like the Kings were playing a team that just played the night before, as well as for the third time in four night and was at the end of a six-game road trip. Oh wait, they were. And it’s not like their power play looked awful against the worst penalty kill in the league. Oh wait, it did. And it’s not like they could only score one goal against a team that the NHL’s 29th-ranked offense scored five goals against the night before and that the Oilers scored nine goals against and the Flames score five goals against the week before. Oh wait, that is what happened. The Kings’ problems, other than obviously on offense, is mostly between the ears. For example, their tendency to give up goals shortly after scoring one. Also, why do they so often struggle against teams that played the night before? Do they take them too lightly? Do they need some sort of wake up call? If this keeps up, they may get one.
So after another disappointing, frustrating loss, the Kings will look to turn things around when they host the San Jose Sharks on Monday. You know, a good team. The type of team that the Kings can’t seem to beat. Before we get set for that, let’s recap Saturday’s loss to the Blackhawks…
1st period: Early on, Duncan Keith’s shot was tipped by Marcus Kruger and went behind the net while Jonathan Quick got tangled up with Anze Kopitar and Dave Bolland in his crease, and Andrew Brunette picked it up and scored on a wraparound at the 3:08 mark before Quick could recover and get there in time, to give the ‘Hawks a 1-0 lead. Kruger and Keith got the assists. The Blackhawks outshot the Kings 10-6 in a penalty-free opening frame.
2nd period: At the 12:02 mark of the second period, the Kings finally got on the board and tied it up. After they finally got a good shift going and had some pressure on Chicago, Jarret Stoll picked up the puck at the right circle and took a high shot that handcuffed Corey Crawford and beat him for what was just Stoll’s second goal of the year, and first goal in 18 games. The goal was unnassisted. Then, of course, just 4:36 later, the Blackhawks took the lead back. Jonathan Toews won the faceoff and went right to the net, then a shot hit the boards and bounced right to him and he had an empty net which he put it right into. Viktor Stalberg and Duncan Keith got the assists. Chicago outshot Los Angeles 12-11 in the period, while each team went 0-for-1 on the power play. The Kings also got a late power play that would carry over for 1:48 into the third period.
3rd period: As was the story most of the night, the Kings failed to generate much offense in the third. The Blackhawks played great defense and went into shutdown mode, which has been the exact problem for the Kings, so since they weren’t busy doing anything on offense, I hope they were taking notes of how Chicago was doing that. The Kings outshot the Blackhawks 10-5 in the third, and the shots were even at 27-27 on the night. Each team went 0-for-1 on the power play in the third and 0-for-2 on the night.
Also, Trent Hunter has, at least temporarily, taken over Ethan Moreau’s spot as my whipping boy on the Kings. Hunter had four shots as well as five hits, but I don’t even know how many times he had the puck on his stick, Crawford out of position, an open net to shoot at, and just plain missed. He was brought in to provide secondary scoring, and just can’t do anything on offense. As I’ve said before, I really think that him and Moreau are the guys who need to go to make room for Dustin Penner and Scott Parse when they return from injury. They just aren’t helping the team at all.
So after another tough loss, the Kings will once again look to try and get on a roll to turn things around. They’ll need to start that on Monday when they host the San Jose Sharks, when they’ll need to finally show that they can compete with teams of the Sharks’ caliber. With a win, the Kings will at least be able to close out November with a mediocre 6-5-2 record. Stay tuned for a game preview coming sometime before the puck drops on Monday at 10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM PT.