Well, I think we all saw that one coming. The Kings have squandered their opportunities at home, so now they’re going to have to get it done on the road. Tonight was not a good start. The Kings may have fired Terry Murray, and that may end up being a good decision, but a drastic change wasn’t going to come overnight. No, still without a firm plan on a new coach in place, John Stevens’ debut as the interim — likely very interim — head coach of the Kings, did not go well, but it wasn’t surprising, either. This team is just awful right now, and against a team like the Bruins, it would have been a miracle for the Kings to get a win tonight.
In fact, the Kings even got shutout. Also not surprising, considering the way they have been playing and their opponent. The Kings are the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, and ever since they got that title, they’ve embraced it with open arms. In fact, since Mike Richards was injured, the Kings have lost five straight games, not even recording a point in that span, going 0-5-0 with a total of six goals in that span. They’ve now scored two goals or less in nine straight games. They’ve scored a league-worst 65 goals in 30 games this season now, dropping their league-worst goals per game average to 2.13. The next lowest is the Anaheim Ducks at 2.28 goals per game, so they have a hole to climb out of just to get to 29th in goals per game. They’ve now scored fewer than three regulation goals in 24 of their 30 games this season. This was their third time being shutout this season. They’re 13-13-4 on the season, winning only 13 of 30 games, and since their 5-1-1 start (when they still couldn’t score, they only won because of Jonathan Quick), they are 8-12-3. If you count those overtime and shootout losses as losses, they have won eight games and lost 15 in that span. That’s pretty much losing two of every games, a winning percentage of about .333, which is just terrible.
I expected this game to be ugly, and it was. A very frustrating night, but it could have gone the Kings’ way. Dustin Penner missed a wide open net early in the game. Perhaps if that goes in, that sets the tone for this one and it ends up being a completely different game. They also hit two posts within a span of probably about five seconds in the second period, and in the third period had a puck float over Tuukka Rask, but land on top of the net. That’s just the way things are going for the Kings right now, and you can tell in their body language that it’s affecting them. It didn’t go unnoticed, either. “You could tell early on they (the Kings) were unsure of themselves, maybe a little bit unconfident.” That quote came after the game from former King and current Bruins defenseman Joe Corvo. When your opponent says something like that, you know it was bad.
Yes, the Kings looked exactly like they did with Murray in the last little while. They looked lifeless, passionless, and defeated. Every bad bounce, every time they got scored on, every time something went wrong, you could just see them getting more and more down on themselves. Despite once again badly outshooting their opponent, the quality scoring chances for the Kings were few and far between, and their pathetic power-play and getting dominated in the faceoff dot didn’t help things either.
Right now, you expect this team to lose. You expect them to not score. You expect them to fail on golden opportunites, like the 5-on-3 power-play they had tonight. It looks like the team expects all of that to happen as well, and that has to change, and fast. Times aren’t good right now, and that’s no secret. The new coach can’t come fast enough for the Kings, they need a new voice at the helm to help steer this ship in the right direction. Right now, this season is a runaway train. Thankfully for the Kings, the Pacific Division hasn’t been very good so far this season. If they can get this turned around shortly, this division could still be there’s for the taking. If they had been playing how they’re supposed to so far this season, they’d be running away with the division. Their goals aren’t out of reach yet, but they can’t wait much longer to start doing something about achieving those goals. They can’t stay this bad for much longer, they’re due to get hot… Right?
It also appears that the next head coach of the Kings is going to be Darryl Sutter. I’ll talk more about that once it becomes official (assuming it does), and there’s no reason to believe it won’t be official soon. It sounds like he could even make his Kings coaching debut on Saturday in Detroit, with an outside chance of him making it in the Kings’ next game, Thursday in Columbus. Whether he does or not, before we get set for that game, let’s recap this stinker in Boston…
1st period: Slava Voynov had a very rare bad game tonight, and it started with an early penalty, his first of two in the period. The Kings killed off both of them, but after killing off the first one, Dustin Penner fanned on his attempt on a pass from Simon Gagne on what was a wide open net on a 2-on-0, and of course, the Bruins struck a few minutes later, at the 6:32 mark. The play started on a Slava Voynov turnover (turnovers were a huge problem for the Kings tonight), and Zach Hamill ended up with the puck at the left faceoff dot, then sent a beautiful pass to Rich Peverley who beat Andrei Loktionov down the slot and had a tap-in for his fifth goal of the season. Loktionov wasn’t too happy about it, as he broke his stick over the crossbar after the goal. Benoit Pouliot also got an assist. The Bruins outshot the Kings 12-8 in the opening frame and went 0-for-3 on the power-play, while the Kings went 0-for-1. The Kings have had extreme penalty trouble lately, and the first period was no different. However, they were able to stay out of the penalty box for the rest of the night.
2nd period: The Kings got their chances in the second period, but it would be the Bruins striking first. To the right of Quick, Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff right to Brad Marchand who snapped it by Quick to give Boston a 2-0 lead at the 7:43 mark of the frame with his 10th goal of the season. The Kings got their chances to get back into it in the second half of the period thanks to some Boston penalties. Andrei Loktionov rang one of the post from the left circle, and then shortly after (I can’t remember who shot it) they hit another post. That’s just the way things are going right now. They failed on the first one, but just 30 seconds later, got another power-play. With 29 seconds remaining in the penalty, David Krejci shot the puck over the glass, giving the Kings 29 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage. Of course, they did not score, nor did they score on the remaining 1:31 on Krecji’s penalty, as the Kings’ massive power-play struggles continue. Early in the season, it was kind of making up for the lack of even strength scoring. Not anymore, and the even strength scoring hasn’t picked up, which is why the Kings find themselves where they are right now. LA outshot Boston 13-7 in the period and went 0-for-3 on the power-play, while the Bruins didn’t have one.
3rd period: If the Kings had any hope of coming back (which they probably didn’t), the Bruins ended it just 5:35 into the final frame, on a goal that was eerily similar to their second goal. Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff, and Brad Marchand scored. Sounds familiar, huh? At least this time it was a backhand, Marchand’s 11th goal of the season and second of the night. That would be the final score, 3-0, as the Kings went 0-for-1 on the power-play and 0-for-5 on the night, while the Bruins didn’t have one and went 0-for-3 on the night. Get this, Los Angeles outshot Boston 20-3 in the third period. 20-3, and they got outscored 1-0. Unreal. What’s more unreal is that Rask didn’t need to make many big saves. No goals or many quality chances, but a ton of shots. Hey, want to pad your goalie stats? Come play the Kings! Right now the Kings are either that — just a team for goalies to pad their stats against — or a night off for the opposing goalie. The Kings have scored a combined three goals in their last three games, facing the team’s backup in each game, so it looks like coaches may also be starting to see the Kings as a team to give your usual goalie a rest against. The Kings also got outscored 3-0 on the night despite outshooting the Bruins 41-22.
So, the Kings look to finally right the ship when this road trip continues in Columbus on Thursday, a game that will be yet another new low for this team if they can’t beat the lowly Blue Jackets. Unfortunately for Mike Richards, he won’t get a chance to play his good friend Jeff Carter for the first time since they were both traded away from Philadelphia in the summer. I’m sure he was looking forward to this game. Hopefully Richards will be able to play in the next three meetings between the Kings and Blue Jackets this season. Meanwhile, the Kings will soldier on without him. Who will be behind the bench for the Kings on Thursday? Stay tuned for a game preview coming sometime before the puck drops at 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT at Nationwide Arena.
NOTE: Willie Mitchell did not play tonight because of a lower-body injury that has him listed as day-to-day. Davis Drewiske took his spot in the lineup. It’s not yet known if Mitchell will be able to play on Thursday in Columbus. Also here’s an unrelated thought. Kyle Clifford and Kevin Westgarth aren’t providing much to the team, nor are they doing a big part of their job: fighting. So, with their team sleepwalking through the last few weeks, why don’t they drop the gloves and try and show some passion that the Kings aren’t showing right now and give their team a spark? It’s not like they’re contributing anything else to the team.