Maybe it was their heated rivalry. Maybe it was the near opening-night roster. Maybe it was the weak Ducks line-up. Whatever it was, the Kings made sure the first meeting (albeit pre-season) with the Ducks ended in their favor. By a landslide.
Their performance wasn’t perfect but the Kings looked like a dominant team on Tuesday night, rattling off the first 4 goals in the first period.
Let’s look at some numbers:
-The Kings 4 goal outburst in the 1st period spanned exactly 10 minutes. 2 of the goals came on the power play, all 4 by different scorers.
-The power play was very good, going 3 for 7 in the game. The penalty kill wasn’t too shabby either, stopping 2 for 2.
-The ice was tilted in the Kings favor for the majority of the game. They out shot the Ducks 23 to 7 in the 1st period. The Ducks came back in the 2nd with 17 shots to 5, but the Kings pushed back strong in the 3rd with 14 shots to 3. Ducks backup goaltender Curtis McIlhenney allowed all 8 Kings goals.
-Despite giving up 3 goals, Quick looked very solid. Pucks just seemed to stick to him which is a stark change from the Quick of last season who always seemed to be fighting the puck. The Ducks second goal, by Dan Sexton, was the only goal that looked like Quick’s fault.
-The Kings were owned in the faceoff circle again, an area that really needs focus. Against a stronger puck possession team the story would look much different.
-Jack Johnson looked like a top-pair defender last night, scoring twice and notching an assist. If this is the Jack we get all season, the blue line has improved 10-fold.
-Mitchell was quiet, in a good way. I forgot he was even playing until I saw him poke-check from 40 feet away with his gargantuan stick.
-Kopitar had a stellar performance as well with strength on the puck, lots of energy, and creative playmaking. He had 4 assists.
-There were many strong performances last night, five Kings each had a goal and an assist; Handzus, Loktionov, Simmonds, Smyth, and Brown. It seemed like the entire team was strong on the forecheck, aggressive, constantly winning pucks, blocking shots, and making smart plays.
-There were only 2 notable gaffes; Westgarth made an unneccessary pass backwards into his own zone which could have easily been picked off, but he got lucky. Drewiske waited way too long to make an outlet pass which resulted in a giveaway and a shot on goal. Quick made a very poised stop on the play.
Battles for Roster Spots:
-Clifford looked really good last night and in my opinion should land the 4th line LW spot. His line, along with Westgarth and Loktionov for most of the night, looked like a real line rather than a collection of fighters and agitators.
-The battle between Loktionov and Schenn is razor thin. Loktionov had a goal and 2 points and even got some time on the top-line. He created chances and was really tenacious on the forecheck. On the other hand, Schenn was unable to muster a point in almost the same amount of ice-time, but he didn’t look out of place at all. He fed Brad Richardson with two great 2-on-1 passes (neither of which Richie connected on), and to top it off he won an exciting fight against Luca Sbisa toward the end of the game. If a spot goes to one of those 2, either is a good choice.
-Muzzin had about 4 more minutes of ice-time than Hickey, but he looked a little over-taxed at times. Hickey made some poised plays and wouldn’t look out of place at all in the Kings line-up. I think Muzzin could benefit from a little more time in the AHL.
The Kings return to action on Saturday against Colorado at 6PM PT, at Staples Center. The Kings beat Colorado 4-2 in their pre-season opener.
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