Some nights, you just don't have it. And on Friday night, the Los Angeles Kings certainly didn't have it.
After an excellent performance against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, the Kings continue their trend of inconsistent play and fell to the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. The Kings couldn't match the intensity they brought against the Oilers, and Vancouver made them pay.
The Canucks got out to a 2-0 lead early in the second, before Blake Lizotte tipped a Sean Walker point shot in to bring the Kings within one. The Kings' lifeline didn't last long though, as Elias Pettersson restored the Canucks two-goal lead just a minute later. Brock Boeser added a fourth Canucks goal early in the third.
The stats paint a better picture for the Kings. They finished with 3.13 expected goals to Vancouver's 1.91 and controlled most of the possession. That's likely a product of going down early and chasing the game though. Vancouver was able to sit back and defend after going up 3-1, relying on a stellar performance from Thatcher Demko.
Demko finished with 37 saves, a .974 save percentage and 2.13 saves above expected. After finishing top-ten in Vezina voting last season, Demko's had a poor start to the season with a .874 save percentage and -10.3 goals saved above expected.
He looked like the Vezina-caliber goalie from last season against the Kings though.
The lack of production from Anze Kopitar's line is concerning for the Kings. After a hot start to the season, Gabe Vilardi now has zero points in his last five games, while Kopitar has one and Kempe two. The chances have been there for this line and were there again Friday, but they can't find the net. Both Vilardi and Kempe started the season with unsustainably high shooting percentages and it appears both are normalizing at the same time.
It's unlikely Todd McLellan makes a change on that line soon, but it needs to be in the back of his mind. Moving Kevin Fiala "down" the lineup worked great and they might need to do something similar with Kempe or Vilardi.
McLellan felt the issues were on an individual level for the Kings Thursday.
"I thought we had some good performances tonight, and I thought we had some poor ones," said McLellan. "For as much as you want to always want to keep your team together and not separate it, I thought there were some individuals who let us down tonight rather than the group as a whole. Sometimes you have to play the game a certain way. It may not be the way you like. It may not be cute. But that's the way you have to play. And we had some that couldn't accept that or didn't want to, and I believe that cost us.
He didn't specify who those players were and I won't speculate. But I'm sure they know who they are. McLellan was clearly sending a message post-game. It will be interesting to see if the lineup stays the same against the Seattle Kraken Saturday.
The Kings still have just one win against the Pacific Division and will face a difficult test Saturday. The Kraken look much better this season and already beat the Kings 4-1 this season. They'll need to re-discover their offense and tighten it up defensively, or it will be a long night in Seattle.