The Kings passed their first test without Kopi at the helm, beating the Oilers 2-0 on Tuesday night. Granted, the Oilers aren’t the toughest test for the Kings, but it was a solid win and something to build off of as they push for the end of the regular season.
Dustin Brown notched both tallies for the Kings but the man of the night (in my opinion) was Trevor Lewis. Lewis had primary assists on both of Brown’s goals on beautiful tape to tape passes. Lewis stepped into the second line center role as the Kings rotated centers to fill Kopitar’s void. Lewis has been a hard working grinder all season and made good on the chance to provide some offense.
Bernier was solid in net and nabbed his 4th shutout of the season. Kings netminders have combined for 10 shutouts this season. (CORRECTION: Bernier’s 3rd, teams 9th. Need to work on my math…) Bernier did most of his work late in the third when Edmonton started to pour it on. The Oilers pulled Nikolai Khabibulin with about 2:30 left in the game and pinned the Kings in their own end, but Bernier stood tall and smothered all chances.
The first line of Penner-Handzus-Moller didn’t look bad. Although they escaped without a point, they provided a few scoring chances. Oscar Moller in particular took the puck to the net a handful of times, something he’ll need to keep doing to prove he belongs at this level. As for their first full game test last night, the line looked good, but it will be interesting to see if they get the “Murray Shuffle”. I doubt that Murray will want to break up Brown and Lewis given their night.
Team defense was impressive last night, with all positions doing a good job knocking pucks off Oilers’ sticks and forcing their shooters to the outside. It’s when the Kings play as a unit that they’re most potent. The Kings’ ability to limit their opponent’s scoring chances and kill penalties will be paramount should they make the playoffs.
Speaking of the playoffs, the Kings picked up a crucial 2 points in the victory and moved to 5th place in the West with 94 points. The Kings have 6 games left to hit 97 or 98 points, depending on who you ask. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number go up with all of the OT games the West is ending up in. The Kings are 1 point behind Phoenix for 4th place, but have 2 games at hand over them. The Kings and Sharks each have 6 games left and the Sharks own a 3 point lead over the Kings for the Division Title.
Five of the Kings six remaining games are against Division opponents, a meeting each with the Sharks, Stars, Coyotes, and two against the Ducks. Their other game is against the Vancouver who just locked up the top seed in the West with 111 points, a 13 points lead on Detroit.
The Kings head to Vancouver on Thursday, puck drops at 7pm 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