It was a seesaw night for the Kings and ‘Canes, trading leads all night. However, the Kings proved they had a little more in the tank and brought home the win. It wasn’t pretty but it counts.
Keys to the win:
-Energy factor. The Kings took advantage of a very road weary ‘Canes team and it showed. The Hurricanes have yet to play a home game in their stadium this season and to top it off they played last night in San Jose. The Hurricanes lean hard on both Joni Pitkanen, who looked okay, and Joe Corvo, who looked very tired. 25 minutes of ice for a guy who played the previous night is not advisable.
-Physicality. The Kings pushed the ‘Canes around which in turn tired them out more. It seemed easy for the Kings to knock Carolina players off the puck in both ends of the ice.
-Face-offs. The Kings dominated an inferior team in the face-off circle with 39 wins and 23 losses. The Kings need this area to get better going forward. It’s not saying much since the Hurricanes are the worst team on the dot by far, according to NHL.com.
-Penalty Kill. The Kings killed off 3 penalties including a crucial late game interference call. They never let the ‘Canes hang onto the zone which is key to keeping fresh legs on the ice and pucks out of the net.
-Kopitar awakens! He had a strong game with a goal, an assist, and 6 shots. This is the Kopitar the Kings need.
-Doughty was injured. He left with an undisclosed upper body injury and did not return. According to Rich Hammond, Doughty will not head with the team to Phoenix but could join them later on the trip. If he’s out for a prolonged period of time it’s bad news for the Kings. It could also mean a call up for Thomas Hickey.
-Bernier wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t great. He seemed to scramble a little more than he did in Calgary and I would argue that he played a better game in Calgary. Still, the Kings need him to steal a win and get Quick some rest, so mission accomplished.
-Defensive lapses. The Hurricanes prey on neutral zone turnovers which led to numerous breakouts for them. If a few bounces go the ‘Canes way on Cole’s breakaway or on Skinner’s, it’s a 5-4 game and points heading back to Raleigh. It seems to happen on nights Bernier is in, but I highly doubt it is because of a lack of confidence in him.
-Two rookies scored their 1st NHL goals on Wednesday night, Andrei Loktionov for the Kings and Jeff Skinner for the Hurricanes. The wonderful happenstance for Skinner is the goal came in the arena he was drafted in. Future King-killer?
-O’Sullivan was given just over 13 minutes in his return to Staples Center, and his minus-2 shows why. He was among the large group of Hurricanes that looked dog-tired. The other super-tired standout was Corvo, also a minus-2 and also a former King.
-Simmonds almost had his first of the season, but it was changed to Handzus. However, his shot through traffic is the type of play he needs to make in order to contribute. The second line picked up points again.
Doughty’s injury could be a serious concern for the Kings, but let’s hope it’s a minor thing and he can get right back into the fray. The Kings head to Phoenix tomorrow night. The Yotes are 1-2-1 on the season.
Puck Drops 7pm PT. Go 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