Tonight’s shutout of the Bruins in LA was Jonathan Quick’s 5th of the season. It was also the first time he won two games in a row since the Kings’ four game streak at the end of last month (Quick won the first two and last of the four). Their special teams have also been struggling. Until scoring against the best goalie (in save percentage and goals against average), Tim Thomas, on the power play tonight, the Kings had a 0-22 streak on the power play. Perhaps their special teams have finally started to click again. Ryan Smyth (who scored the power play goal about half-way through the first period, which ended up being the game winning goal due to Quick’s shutout) mentioned that the Kings had “capitalized on special teams tonight, which we’ve been lacking as of late.” Not only did the Kings score on the first of their three power play opportunities, but they were perfect on the penalty kill. Smyth also said he thinks the Kings have been creeping up to the level of play they’re at now in their last few games. The main question is whether the Kings will be able to sustain their high level of play and confidence. They competed for a full sixty minutes tonight, which is something I hadn’t seen from them yet this calendar year. Though they beat the Coyotes in Phoenix on Saturday, the Kings gave up a three goal lead to scare their fans first.
Boston has been a consistently good team, but the Kings have won their last five games against them. Most Kings fans are probably wondering why their team has to play down to the worse teams if they’re capable of beating the best goalie in the NHL. While it’s true that any team in the NHL has the capability of beating any other team on a given night, Kings fans have seen their team barely show up for games against some of the worst teams in the league this season, which is very frustrating. Some of the worst teams in the league try harder than the Kings do consistently and aren’t capable of beating many of the teams they face. I think that’s easier to take than watching such a talented team choose not to compete at a high level sometimes. Maybe beating Thomas will help the Kings regain their confidence and continue to climb back up the standings. In spite of being in 11th place as of tonight’s win, the Kings are only 3 points behind the 8th place Colorado Avalanche. The western conference is very tight, so the Kings are really only one decent winning streak away from being back in the playoff picture.
The Bruins don’t play in SoCal often, which explains why tonight’s sellout crowd was closer to the announced 18,118 than I’d seen it in quite a while. There’s more energy in Staples Center when it’s pretty full, which definitely helps the Kings face an opponent. I’m sure they realize that if they win more there will be more fans in Staples Center, which will make it easier for them to win… It’s definitely a better cycle than the one where losing makes fewer fans show up, which makes it more difficult to play a full 60 minutes and win games.