The Los Angeles Kings were an offseason favorite to win the Cup, but after a lackluster start and an even worse dip in play recently, they headed into Tuesday night’s showdown on a four-game losing streak, with an overall record of just 13-12-4.
Aside from the stellar play of goaltender (and local product) Jonathan Quick, compiling an 11-8-4 record with a nifty 2.10 GAA in 23 games, the Kings have struggled mightily to find secondary scoring, having only five players with double digit point totals
The Kings must get scoring from players other than Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, and Dustin Brown to right their ship, and head to the playoffs. An east coast-west coast matchup couldn’t have come at a better time as they face a Bruins team playing without their captain, and best defensemen in Zdeno Chara for the first time this season.
Tonight’s breakdown will focus on the defense core of the Bruins, as it will be interesting to see how the unit fairs in their first test without captain Chara.
The Bruins got on the power play early, and while the defensemen used good entries and consistent shots on goal to produce decent chances, the forwards failed to capitalize and the special teams unit was shut down.
A Steven Kampfer breakdown gave the Kings an odd man rush in the first, but Dustin Penner could not take advantage of the chance after receiving the perfect feed from Simon Gagne. Kampfer, who is filling in for the injured Chara, did not get off to the best start after sitting out the previous 10 games; however, this is understandable for Kampfer, who is clearly working off some rust.
Zach Hamill, who had just been called up to replace the injured Greg Campbell, made a beautiful feed across the crease to an open Rich Peverley, who easily beat Quick for the game’s first goal. It was nice to see Hamill get on the board so early, as he’s been impressive in his few games up with the big club this season. The secondary helper on the play went to Benoit Pouliot, who’s strong offensive work continues to turn heads. When the Bruins are playing well their chemistry really shines, and the “triangle offense” is mighty hard to stop. The third line worked it beautifully in this instance.
It should be noted that a good pass by Adam McQuaid at center ice, purposely placed off the boards, sprung Peverley to begin the offensive shift that produced the game’s first goal.
Overall, I thought the defense of the Bruins performed better than anticipated, hopefully gaining confidence for future play with out Chara.
Kampfer’s struggles continued early on in the second, as he repeatedly had trouble gaining puck control in his own end, and clearing it out. His mishandles must be eliminated, as they led to extended puck possession by LA.
Midway through the second, Bergeron won a faceoff cleanly to Marchand who one- timed it home on a super quick release, beating Quick; it was a great play by both Bergeron and Marchand.
The defense of the Bruins was highly impressive fending off back-to-back LA power-plays late the second, especially without the help of their on-ice leader, and shutdown captain Chara.
Through two periods the Bruins limited LA’s scoring chances, holding them to just 21 shots, most of which coming from the outside making it rather easy on Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask.
As a team, the Bruins fell back on their heals a bit in the third, letting LA bring their game as they hammered shots from all over the Bruins zone. Things would have been easier for the Bruins if Chara was there to clear out some bodies and open things up, but luckily for the Bruins Rask came up huge in net, having one of his biggest periods of the season, preserving the shutout.
Marchand added a goal in the third (as he usually scores in bunches), and the Bruins cruised to a 3-0 victory; it was the fifth loss in a row for the Kings. Next up, the Bruins face the Senators up in Ottawa Wednesday night for a divisional matchup.
From The Room
Hamill on his line and the game against the Kings:
Paille on his first game back since injury:
An upset Quick after the loss to the Bruins:
Anze Kopitar on the game against the Bruins: