The Kings dropped both of their pre-season contests on Thursday to Phoenix. The Kings “A Squad” played in Los Angeles, while the “B Squad” was in Phoenix Glendale. For the A Squad, it was their first pre-season action and sort of a tune up game. For much of the B Squad, it was their second game after beating Colorado in Denver on Tuesday.
Let’s do some summary analysis here:
-The B Squad managed a point (or would in the regular season), losing the game in OT after an ill timed hooking penalty by prospect Ray Kaunisto.
-Bernier stopped all 18 shots he faced on Thursday. So far he has allowed 2 goals on 39 shots in the pre-season. With Ersberg’s hand injury, Bernier is looking good to take over as backup.
-B Squad was way outshot, putting 25 on net and facing 38 from Phoenix. Jeff Zatkoff allowed both Phoenix goals, but stopped 18 of 20.
-The B Squad had their even strength scoring tested, as Phoenix didn’t take any minor penalties. The Kings took 6 and gave up one PP goal. Kaunisto and Stoll had 2 minor penalties each.
-The A Squad didn’t have it much easier. Phoenix only took 3 minor penalties in their contest (the Kings did not score on the PP). The Kings took 8 minors in that game with Phoenix converting once, which bodes well for the PK.
-Ponikarovsky potted his first in a Kings Jersey, tallying just 12 seconds into the 2nd period.
-Faceoffs will be a huge concern for the Kings moving forward. On the bright side, Kopitar and Stoll had the best nights going 9 for 20 and 9 for 19 respectively. Brayden Schenn was also 4 for 9, but Richardson was a disappointing 5 for 19 and Trevor Lewis lost all 4 of his faceoffs.
-Kyle Clifford was a bit out of control taking an Instigator, an Unsportsmanlike Conduct, a Fighting Major, and a Match Penalty for a grand total of 19 PIMs. His game is that of a chippy disturber, but he’ll have to play with more restraint (see John Zeiler in game 1).
-The lack of depth on the A Squad was glaring in the shots on goal total. Kopitar had 8 shots on goal and the top line had 11 combined out of 20 shots for the Kings. Guys like Moller and Simmonds have to register some shots. Jack Johnson logged over 25 minutes and was without a shot as well. Despite the lack of shots, Jack was pretty solid.
-Schenn was solid in his pre-season debut, scoring the Kings only goal and tallying the 2nd most shots (3).
-Andrew Campbell was awarded for his strong first game with over 21 minutes in Thursday’s game. He had 2 shots but was quiet other than that, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
1. Kings goaltending has been pretty solid so far with no keeper below .900 on save percentage.
2. Defense has been pretty good, with A Squad (comprised of the most starters) allowing very few shots against. While the B Squad defenders allowed many more shots, during the regular season they’ll have limited minutes and can devote more energy to fewer minutes.
3. If you look at the responsibilities of the 2 Squads, the areas of focus are covered fairly well. The 1st line was an offensive threat, the depth players (mostly on B Squad) were all on the right side of the plus/minus scale of Thursday, showing they’re defensively sound, and the goaltending has been strong. These elements combined makes for a strong team. It’ll be interesting to see their first game together as one group.
Cuts should be coming later today and I doubt there will be any surprises. The most heated battles are for the last 2 defense spots as well as 1 4th line role. Richardson and Westgarth are likely to fill the other 2 4th line slots. Guys like Zeiler, Schenn, Clifford and Loktionov as making it interesting. Hickey, Muzzin, Fransson, Drewiske, and perhaps Campbell are in the mix on defense.
The Kings are off until Tuesday when they face freeway rival Anaheim at Staples Center.
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