The Sharks broke the Kings 6 game winning streak, winning 6-3 at the Shark Tank on Monday amid cries of “Beat L.A.!” a la the Boston Celtics in their attempt to beat the Lakers this past year. The Kings struggled in all areas they usually excel at and the talented Sharks took advantage of it.
Things to notice:
-The Sharks got production from all 4 forward lines. Notably, Joe Thornton came away without any points.
-Monday’s game was the first that we really saw the Terry Murray Shuffle, mixing up lines that weren’t working.
-The Kings awesome penalty kill was less than awesome with only 1 kill on 3 tries.
-Despite the 6 goal onslaught, Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty impressively escaped with plus-3 ratings.
-Scott Parse tallied his first of the season. The second line also remained hot with Williams, Stoll, and Smyth tallying points.
-A strange occurrence took place in the second period. Ryan Smyth scored but the referee (who was WAY out of position) didn’t see it. Play continued for over a minute and finally came to a stop when Torrey Mitchell scored a breakaway goal. After a video review, Smyth was awarded a goal and Mitchell was discredited his, as per league rules.
-The Sharks were quite disciplined, only taking 3 minor penalties. The Kings only had 2 power play opportunities.
-The Sharks 4th line was noticeably more experienced than the Kings all rookie trio. I hate to look so far ahead, but it may behoove the Kings to add some gray hairs to the 4th line. Ponikarovsky’s return will likely put Richardson back on the 4th line, which will help.
-Bernier is very good at being economical in his movement, but at times his saves seem lax and as if he is just batting everything away. The most notable difference between Bernier and Quick is that Bernier’s rebound control last night was atrocious. Several Sharks’ goals were direct results of juicy rebounds that ended up directly in the slot. Quick on the other hand has really limited rebounds. This will be something to watch moving forward with Bernier. With a busy week ahead, will Murray refrain from playing Bernier again? Will the team lose confidence playing in front of Bernier? Will this result in Quick being overplayed again?
-The Sharks dominated along the boards, an area the Kings have excelled at. The Kings cycle defense was unusually passive and consisted of swatting sticks and poke checks instead of pressing the opposition up against the boards and winning battles. The Sharks had a step on the Kings all night.
-Jack Johnson and Matt Greene were the most victimized duo, ending a minus-3 each. If we combine this stat with the thought above, that the Kings weren’t very physical, it’s easy to see how important physical play is to Greene’s game.
-Kopitar needs to be better. The team’s #1 center and should-be scoring leader needs to be stronger game in, game out and Kopitar just hasn’t been that guy yet this season. A real elite level center can carry the play on his own at times if he isn’t getting support from his teammates.
-This game was lost by the Kings inability to clear the zone. It’s critical to have that extra step and win puck battles, because as soon as they collapse into a defensive box and act like they’re on the penalty kill, the shots will come and goals will be the result.
The Kings return home on Wednesday to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets (9-6-0), 7:30 pm PT.
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