The San Jose Sharks locked up another division title on Monday night, defeating the Kings 6-1. The Sharks are assured to enjoy a top 3 seed in this year’s playoffs and the King will have to strive for 4th place if they want home advantage in the first round.
The loss was a failure at basically every level. Team defense was horrid. Goaltending was spotty. The offense just never got into gear. The Kings were beat to pucks on the forecheck and couldn’t match the Sharks speed on the rush. Forwards were all out of sorts when it came to their defensive responsibilities, leaving opposing forwards all alone to rip one-timers from the slot.
What scares me about the loss?
The Kings managed to pull within one early in the second period. Yet, that’s when the wheels really fell off. They promptly gave up another goal to the Sharks and from there it was a ROFL-stomp for the team in teal.
Giving up a goal immediately after scoring is a bad habit that has plagued the Kings from the beginning of the season and they simply haven’t figured out how to stop it. It’s not a luck thing and it’s not a systematic problem, it’s a problem of effort. Often times a coach will put out the same line that just scored on the next shift in the hope that they’ll be energized by the goal and fight for more. Maybe that’s not the best idea. Whatever it is that’s happening, the effort is not there.
What REALLY scares me about the loss?
The Kings other vexing tendency this season has been to follow up a win streak with an extended losing streak. The Kings endured two really rough stretches this season, a 1-7 stretch and a 2-10 stretch. 17 of the Kings 28 losses are contained within those stretches! What if the Kings are in another valley? The Kings have a very tough final three games ahead of them, where Calgary and Dallas have some easier opponents. The Kings still haven’t locked in a playoff spot…
For me, it comes down to mental strength. I’ve been a part of sports teams, or groups in school or work where you lose members that are seen as vital. Although it’s never been a situation as intense as the NHL, I know what the tendency is. It’s very easy to tell yourself that it’s acceptable to fail because you are missing that key member, or in this case two members. Whether it’s a conscious admission or not, your brain can use the extenuating circumstances to assuage your conscience.
I’m not saying this happened in last night’s loss, but I am saying that we are all human and susceptible to these thoughts and feelings. How the Kings respond to this added mental challenge will tell us a lot about the team that we root for.
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