What’s Consistency? Kings Fall to Blue Jackets 6-5
The Los Angeles Kings will go a full month without winning two games in a row.
With their 6-5 overtime loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Los Angeles Kings will go a full month without winning two games in a row.
It gets worse when you realize they've played 14 games in the last month. Just an unacceptable trend for the Kings.
Yes, there were qualifiers for this game. Drew Doughty was a late injury and the Kings played in Montreal less than 24 hours before puck drop. However, Columbus is also missing their number one defensemen, plus six other players, and has one of the worst records in the league. Every game is difficult in the NHL. And no game is a guaranteed win. But a team that viewed itself as a playoff lock heading into the season should not play so poorly against one of the league's bottom teams.
This isn't a one-off poor performance either. The Kings have made a habit of games like this over the last month. Something is off with this team. The roster only got better this summer and they're relatively healthy, yet they've appeared to take a step back.
It was another slow start for the Kings Sunday, who went down 2-0 in the first 10 minutes. They clawed back to tie it at two in the second period, before trading goals with Columbus to draw the game even at three.
The Kings then gave up two more in the second, heading into the final frame down 5-3. Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe both scored in the third to take the game into overtime.
In overtime, a fantastic move from Patrik Laine forced a rebound that Johnny Gaudreau put home with help from Kevin Fiala on the back check. There was some controversy surrounding the goal, as Gaudreau knocked the puck toward goal with his glove before Fiala turned it into his own net. After a lengthy review, the refs upheld the call on the ice as a good goal.
The Kings deserve some credit for erasing two, two-goal leads. But 31 games into the season they can't be taking moral victories.
Mental mistakes and poor goaltending were the King's undoing once again.
"We've got to care about more situations that are important coming back to our end," said Todd McLellan post-game. "We have world-class players guys that we brought in to be shut-down players that missed assignments tonight. And it's not the bottom six, it's the top six right now. And that's great that we're scoring all those goals, but obviously, we're not getting enough points. I'm not sure that we value the checking part as much as we have in the past. It's just go and score. And it's disappointing. Another hard game to evaluate, I've been saying that pretty much the whole year. Great that we come back, great that we score goals, great that we stick with it, but the carelessness is killing us."
Two odd-man rushes and a terrible turnover in the slot gave Jonathan Quick a tough task Sunday. But, as they say, you need some big saves from your goalie. No matter how you spin it, a .769 save percentage and -3.52 goals saved above expected are simply not good enough from Quick. You can't win games with goaltending like that. League-average goaltending would have won that game for the Kings and they didn't get it.
You never want to overreact, especially after last season's success. But Rob Blake has to be thinking about changes for this Kings team. Something has to give. This team isn't getting results and looks lost right now.
The Kings have turned Tuesday's game against the Buffalo Sabres into a must-win game and need to put up a solid performance on Thursday against the Bruins. Once back home, there have to be lineup changes. Quinton Byfield should be back on the roster and the blue line needs to be shaken up.