This year was the first time the Kings and Ducks made the playoffs in the same year. Unfortunately for fans of both SoCal teams, the Sharks and Predators knocked out the southern California teams in six games each. Before tonight’s game, I felt pretty strongly that if the Kings weren’t going to win a game in front of their fans and play well in a home game they should have had the decency to lose the series against the Sharks in San Jose. I have to say that after tonight’s performance by the Kings I think it’s good that the Kings gave their fans this game to remember. Their previous playoff games at home in 2011 were horrible performances. The Kings looked terrible in games 3 & 4 once the Sharks pulled Niemi when the Kings started with a 4-0 lead in game three. Tonight, the Kings didn’t win, so clearly their fans didn’t leave happy. However, the Kings played really well and fans were able to leave tonight knowing that their favorite team tried to win the game and closed out the post season playing pretty well.
The performance of the home team at Staples Center in the playoffs so far this year didn’t keep the Kings from selling out Staples Center tonight, but the game was only sold out to the normal capacity (18,118) with no standing room sales. The fans in attendance did see the best home playoff performance the Kings had this year, so it was definitely worth the expense.
Should the Kings have scored on their 5 minute power play? No question. However, the Kings scored two power play goals in the game, which definitely wasn’t common for them. Their power play needs work and it was terrible last year, too. If the Kings don’t think about reorganizing their special teams coaching during the off season, I’ll be pretty stunned. Their penalty kill remained great in the playoffs (perfect on the road and strong at home), but the Kings’ power play was horrible in the regular season and post season.
The Kings had chances to take over this series and beat the Sharks, but didn’t seize their opportunities to succeed. A lot of that is surely due to the mostly young team. They got more playoff experience this year and hopefully that and a reorganization of their power play will help them in 2012. Not capitalizing on the five minute power play is just one time the LA team passed on chances to survive this round of the playoffs. Not scoring on that power play definitely cost the Kings the game, but if they’d scored on many other chances or taken shots on many of their other opportunities, it may not have come down to an overtime situation. Drew Doughty explained that “No one in here wanted to lose today, obviously, and we fully believe we could have won it, that’s why we’re so disappointed.” That’s certainly the most frustrating thing for the Kings’ fans, too. They see the potential of the Kings and wish the team could get to the point where they reach it. Even without Kopitar in the lineup, the Kings matched up well against the Sharks. Maybe that’s a sign that they can really build on what they learned this year and make it farther in the 2012 playoffs. Time will tell… For now, the only California team moving to the next round is the northern California team – the San Jose Sharks.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, fans, Hockey, Kings, NHL, penalty kill, playoffs, potential, power play, sellout, Sharks, special teams, Staples Center
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.
Tags: Avalanche, Bruins, Coyotes, fans, Hockey, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, penalty kill, playoffs, power play, Ryan Smyth, special teams, standings, Staples Center, Tim Thomas
One of the teams had to end their winning streak last night when the Rangers hosted the Kings in Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately for Kings fans, the team that extended their streak was the Rangers. The Rangers remain tied for first place in the Atlantic division and the NHL (with the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins). The Kings remain in first place in the Pacific division, but drop from 2nd to 5th in the Western conference.
Definitely not the best game to attend as a Kings fan, but there were up sides to not getting credentials from the Rangers. I got to talk to more fans (Kings and Rangers alike). I also didn’t have to talk to the Kings after the game and somehow I don’t think they were in the best mood – especially with their upcoming flight to Detroit immediately following the game.
As a Kings fan, I was definitely in the minority at Madison Square Garden, but I did see quite a few Kings fans. I talked to almost all the Kings fans I saw before the end of the game. One of the fans hasn’t lived in LA for years (he’s spent most of that time overseas serving our country), but he still manages to follow his favorite team. One of the fans is from Philadelphia, but he’s been a Kings fan most of his life. Apparently, he really liked their earliest purple jerseys and chose the Kings as his team as a result.
Everyone watching the game saw Brian Boyle (a former King) score his first goal in a Rangers jersey. Considering how little the Kings face the Rangers, it’s pretty surprising that he scored his first goal of the season against the Kings.
Special teams were definitely a problem for the Kings last night. The Kings’ penalty kill (tied for 27th in the league going into last night’s game) was already struggling, but the power play had been tied for 4th. The Rangers fan next to me turned to me to say that the Kings were making the Rangers look good near the end of one of the Kings’ last power plays of the game – and he was right. I couldn’t keep track of all the times the Kings passed the puck to the point without looking to see if there was someone there and cleared the zone for the Rangers (the Kings did this when they weren’t on the power play, too). Los Angeles was 1-7 (14%) with the man advantage and only stopped one of the three Rangers power plays. If I had to guess, I’d say the Kings will spend a lot of money working on their power play and penalty kill in upcoming practices.
Erik Ersberg was in goal for the Kings, since they face the Red Wings tonight in Detroit. His save percentage of 81% is definitely not what he would have wanted, but two of the goals scored against him were scored on the power play (one with a two man advantage), which clearly made his job more difficult.
The Kings hadn’t had a four game winning streak since about 2 months before the end of the last season and hadn’t started out with a record of 4-1-0 since the 1992-1993 season (the year they went to the Stanley Cup Finals and lost to the Montreal Canadiens) and ties with the best 5 game start in Kings history. It’s too early to be super optimistic if you’re a Kings fan (especially since Kings fans have seen their team start out well and finish way out of the playoffs before), but I do think that the team Dean Lombardi has put together is on the right track and will finish in the playoffs this year.
Tags: Brian Boyle, Canadiens, Dean Lombardi, Erik Ersberg, fans, Hockey, Kings, Madison Square Garden, NHL, penalty kill, Penguins, playoffs, power play, Rangers, Red Wings, special teams, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup Finals