The Kings lost an all out slug fest with the Anaheim Ducks this past week. While the loss was painful to endure for Kings fans, there are some small glimmers of hope nestled into the clouds of despair.
A losing record is nothing to cheer about, especially in this lockout shortened season. Some teams seems to have gotten the memo that there isn’t time to get into the groove, while others are taking their sweet time to get into mid-season form (see: Kings, Los Angeles). The Kings’ power-play woes, drooping record, and overall mediocrity of play can’t get the best of their spirits because this season could slip away very quickly.
On the upside:
Power-Play: The aforementioned slug fest with Anaheim showed the Kings actually can score on the power-play. Before that contest the power-play was markedly mediocre in every sense of the word. Terrible offensive zone entry, telegraphed passes, shots from poor angles, shots with too much traffic, shots with no traffic at all, and a general lack of urgency. The Kings showed the can use speed, misdirection, and traffic to succeed on the man-advantage.
Scoring in general: The Kings offense as a whole has been lacking, mostly due to a failure to produce from the top scorers (sans Jeff Carter). While Carter was showing his scoring touch, the rest of the star-forwards were showing their ability to cycle endlessly, then lose the puck. The Kings bread and butter has been establishing a cycle with someone driving to the net. However, those hard parts of the game seem to be the first to go when you’re in a funk. Against Anaheim, the Kings went hard at the net once again and it paid off for guys like Brown and Williams that have been snake bit.
Crowd Presence: While I know it’s no small feat considering the relative size of Anaheim’s fanbase to that of the Kings, especially directly after a Stanley Cup Victory, the chants of “Let’s Go Kings” from Honda Center in Anaheim were audible over the TV and easily drowned out the pitiful and unoriginal “Beat L.A.” chants. A strong fanbase after a painful lockout is emboldening for the future of the franchise.
Things to work on:
Consistency: Probably the favorite buzzword of coaches and players alike and for good reason. You can be the greatest player in the world but if you’re only playing great some of the time, you’re not going to win very often. Consistency is what made the Kings so lethal in so few games last year in the playoffs. They brought their A+ game every night.
Defense: While the Kings managed 4 goals against the Ducks, they allowed 7 (albeit, 1 empty-netter). They can’t go for offense while sacrificing the defense. Granted, it was Bernier’s first start of the season as well but the back-checking game was sorely lacking on several goals.
Discipline: Bad conditioning = laziness/tiredness = not skating = penalties. Can’t have it and be successful, even with a great PK.
The Kings are currently last in the Pacific Division. While it’s still fairly early, I can;t stress enough how quickly this shortened season will sneak up on them. The Kings have the advantage of two games at-hand over Phoenix and Dallas.
They’ll need them.