There are some games you lose 2-1 and feel like you could’ve won the game. Then there are games you lose 2-1 and feel lucky the score wasn’t more embarrassing.
Today’s game one loss to the Blackhawks is most accurately as the latter, but the fact remains that although the Kings did more wrong than they did right, the game was never outside of their grasp.
So what went wrong?
Well a few things, but ultimately it comes right down to the Kings top players didn’t show up. Anze Kopitar was as much of a factor in the game as I was. Drew Doughty was brutal and instead of getting the Kings out of trouble, he too often put them in it. Brown looked slow. Carter couldn’t find room to shoot. Richards made about four too many suicide passes, one of which led directly to the rush that resulted in Hossa’s game winning goal.
Your stars aren’t going to win you every game, but they need to at the very least make a positive impact.
Meanwhile, the return of Stoll was marvelous. His line with King and Lewis was far and away the most effective for the Kings and responsible for the only sustained forechecks the team managed. King in particular had his strongest game of the playoffs and was a few bad bounces away from scoring or setting up several goals.
But the game is over, and tomorrow is all that matters. Aside from simply screaming at the television for Doughty to at least play in the same stratosphere as Duncan Keith or for Anze Kopitar to play in the same building as the rest of the team, what can the Kings do to improve and win game two?
Part of the reason the Kings could never get a good forecheck going was because they were focused on making quick ups instead of smart ups. While lingering with the puck in your own zone is useless, the Kings fell into a bad habit throughout the game. The Hawks would apply offensive pressure, the Kings would recover the puck and then look to make an immediate pass out of the zone. While they were mostly effective at that part of it, forcing the Hawks offsides, it frequently destroyed any opportunity to have more than one option with the puck in the neutral zone.
Tomorrow I would like to see more D to D passing by the Kings, in all zones, but particularly defensively. Trying to turn every puck around as soon as you recover it plays into the Hawks’ hands. That is not the game that won the Kings a Stanley Cup or the one that propelled them into the Conference Finals this year.
I thought the defense was mostly fine. The breakdowns were on breakouts and forcing the play at center ice. When the Hawks have the puck, they are going to find a way to be dangerous. It is insane to think we can contain them so much as to not need Jonathan Quick to be as good as he was. He is up to the task.
We will win this series not on the backs of our defense, but on the strength of our forecheck.
So now we must simply hope that Mike Richards is fine and that 8, 11, 23 and 77 kick it up a notch.
I’m not going to talk much about the Bolland hit until I hear what, if anything, Shanahan is going to do. I think Bolland deserves a suspension because the hit was completely reckless, to the head and a leaping charge.
If I’m being completely honest with myself, I never really thought the Kings would win this game. While I am disappointed greatly in how they played to earn the loss, I am also encouraged by the fact that this Kings team does not play two shitty games in a row. The Hawks had a hard time edging us out by a goal. That was as easy as it’s going to get for them.
On to game two.
Categories: L.A. Kings News