Let’s get this straight; the Kings were flat out out-played by the Blues tonight. Take nothing away from the Blues who were A) Mired in the same type of slump as the Kings, B) Were playing on the road, C) Are missing Andy MacDonald, TJ Oshie and David Perron, and D) Played and lost last night. If there were ever a vulnerable team, St. Louis tonight was it.
Yet, it was the Kings who fell. So what’s weighing the Kings down? Let’s take a look:
1. Kings having a hard time studying the videotape because Handzus skates too fast to register on camera.
2. Scuderi distracted from his defensive duties by Doughty’s stick flailing around wildly.
3. Sturm upset because his teammates keep calling him “Ilya.”
1. The Kings are MASSIVELY affected by elements of the game. A goal-for and they lay back. A goal-against and they panic and start making cute plays. They say a good team is one that plays the same whether up by 5 or down by 5. The Kings are not that team.
2. No chemistry. When you’re mixing up the lines every other night there is no time to gel. When a line isn’t gelling, you mix up the lines. It’s vicious cycle.
3. Pass, pass, pass. The Kings seem like they’re trying to make their opponent dizzy from too much cycling, but it’s not working. The hesitance to drive straight to the net or take a shot when there is a pass available is vexing.
Major kudos to Alec Martinez for shooting the puck when he had passing options available. Sure, Johnson was open to make a play right next to him, but the better play was to throw it at the net and that’s what he did. The result? A goal.
The first Blues goal was a failure to clear the net in front of Quick. He was double screened and had no chance. Their second goal was a matter of the Blues wanting the puck more. Johnson gets caught in front of the net with his feet planted, puck goes the other way and Reaves beats two Kings to the open net. The third goal was a combination of things; first, Steen just flat out beat Handzus to the puck. Second, Quick was down WAY too early on the shot. Steen knows Quick is a butterfly guy, puts the puck top-shelf.
The Kings came out hard in the 2nd, but as soon as they had a goal they let up. Granted the Blues didn’t score right away, but the Kings had I think 1 shot on net after they scored in the second. Miserable. At the end of the second, the Blues flipped the puck deep into the Kings zone. Willie Mitchell had a step on the defender and instead of skating hard to the puck and keeping it from him, he slowed up and tried to box the defender out. The clock ran out and nothing happened, but that play is indicative of how the Kings have been playing; trying to make the cute play, the lucky play, the play that requires the least hustle.
The 3rd period was like watching Old Yeller. A slow, agonizing death. The Kings had two good chances, but Halak was there for both. I genuinely believe the Smyth no-goal was in the net, but no-goal was the right call. Halak did his job dragging the puck out and the video review had no conclusive proof the puck was over the line. Good call, sadly.
It’s hard to believe the Kings might escape an 8 game home stand with just 1 win, but if they lose to Edmonton on Saturday, that’s exactly what will happen.
If that happens, I’d be surprised if Dean Lombardi doesn’t make some decisive action. A firing, a trade, a recall, a waive, or anything that can shake this team by the collar and say, “Wake up! You’re way too talented to be playing this poorly!”
We’re at the halfway point this season and with the Western Conference so log jammed the Kings don’t have a point to waste.
The trade-rumor-du-jour is Mike Fisher to the Kings for God knows what in return. Is this guy the answer? Another second line player on a team that arguably already has 8? Look, I know that 1st line left-wing snipers don’t grow in trees but what good does another band-aid do on this axe wound?
The Kings take the ice for the last time on this home stand on Saturday night against the Oilers. Puck drops at 7pm PT.
(NOTE: The “Burdens” section of this post is meant as a joking means for this blogger to vent his honest frustration, not to call out any one player.)
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