Welcome Kings Fans to the inaugural post on Royal Subjects! If you aren't familiar with my previous blog Great Ice-Pectations, you can check it out here. Well, there is plenty to talk about in the Kingdom today, so without further ado I'll get started.
Michal Handzus and Dustin Brown pointed out the same problem with the Los Angeles Kings; effort. One day after both players lamented the lack of desperation their team exhibits on a nightly basis, the Kings seemed to find that effort. Down 3-2 in the third period to the Western Conference-killer Buffalo Sabres, the Kings ground out a 3-4 shootout victory, picking up 2 much needed points.
From here on out that effort will be paramount since the Western Conference race leaves no room for error. The Kings currently sit in 7th place. 4 points north would put the Kings in 4th place, but 4 points south has them in 10th. Expect the Western Conference standings to look like musical chairs up until the last games of the regular season.
The victory over Buffalo marked a return to basics by the Kings, going hard to the net and putting pucks on goal with traffic in front. Brad Richardson continued to raise his stock, redirecting Drew Doughty's shot from the point over Ryan Miller. Smyth's third period game-tying goal, a puck deflected in off his skate, was anything but pretty, but exactly the type of play he is expected to make.
In the shootout the Kings continued to be aces, winning their sixth straight in the skills competition. Kopitar and Brown scored for the Kings with backhands that mirrored each other, Kopitar's over Miller's left shoulder and Brown's over the right. At the other end, Jonathan Quick flashed the right pad to rob Tim Connolly and seal the deal. Quick finished the night with 26 saves and picked up his 26th win of the season in his 45th game. Last season Quick finished with 21 wins in 44 games played.
Off the ice it's not quite so rosy for the Kings. In a recent interview, Kings GM Dean Lombardi made comments about the play of Jack Johnson and the coaching he received in college from Michigan coach Red Berenson, namely that “Michigan is the worst.” Essentially Lombardi stated that he felt Johnson was a great athlete but didn't receive the coaching that would mold him into an equally great hockey player.
Johnson was not happy with these comments and is allegedly going to have a sit down with Lombardi to hash the situation out. In fairness to Lombardi, the comments he made were within the context of showing how far Johnson has come since being with the Kings. However, considering Jack Johnson is currently a team worst minus-18, 4th worst in the league, one has to wonder if his comments weren't meant as a wake up call to Johnson. With the trade deadline coming up it will be interesting to see how this one shakes out.
The Kings start off their road trip on Saturday with an incredibly important match-up with the Detroit Red Wings, their chief competition for one of the last few playoff spots in the West.
Thanks for reading, I'm excited to be here, and looking forward to keeping you updated on the Los Angeles Kings!
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney