Kings Just Aren't That Good
The Kings just aren’t that good. They’re good, but they’re not in that upper echelon of Western Conference teams like the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks especially since they’ve yet to record a win against those four teams so far this season.
Don’t get me wrong. They’re always in these games, save for that Red Wings matinee last Saturday that I’ve thankfully erased from my memory thanks to gorging myself at Souplantation afterwards. But in each game they’ve had chances to send the game to overtime or win in regulation. But they just haven’t been able to get it done.
“The attitude is that the only way you can score is getting pucks to the net, and we need to be much better than that,” head coach Terry Murray said after the Kings’ 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks. “We’ve been talking about that for a couple of years.”
It’s true they’ve been talking about it for a couple of years. I’ve seen them emphasize it in practices. It’s the never-ending mantra chanted in yoga-like om’s throughout the dressing room. But it just isn’t happening.
“There’s no secret to it,” Anze Kopitar echoed. “You just have to get more shots on net. When you have a four-on-two rush, you have to go and get a shot on net.”
The Kings had such a break early in the second period. The Kings’ recalcitrance to shooting the puck gave the Blackhawks a two-man breakaway with Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg and no King between them an goaltender Jonathan Quick. Fortunately Stalberg shot the puck wide to the right, and no harm was done.
“You have to keep it simple, take the shot, and not try to be too cute,” Kopitar added.
All the cuteness that has plagued the Kings all season long has resulted in games that are difficult to watch. Pucks pushed every which way except at the net, odd-man rushes that result. It all impedes the offensive flow for the Kings. So when watching the games, it seems that the Kings have only three or four good shifts per game. However they usually score in those good shifts.
They can probably get away with this sort of play against the St. Louis’s and Anaheim’s of the NHL. But as the Blackhawks proved, the Kings can’t get away with it against the good teams.
And while Chicago’s two goals were scored on defensive breakdowns by the Kings leaving players unchecked in front of the net: Andrew Brunette in the first period on a second-chance wraparound and Jonathan Toews in the second period on an offensive zone faceoff.
But holding the highest scoring Western Conference team to two goals seemed like the opening the Kings needed.
“Any time in this League if you can keep a team to two goals or less, you’ve got to like your chances for a point and hopefully a win,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “It wasn’t the case tonight.”
As an aside, Chicago Blackhawk fans are pretty damned annoying. If these people are the illustration of what will happen if the Chicago Cubs win a World Series, then my worst wishes with Theo Epstein and Dale Sveum.
And Kings’ fans, it could be worse. You could be a Ducks fan.