Kings Get Closer

by | Apr 22, 2022

Jonathan Quick was back in net Thursday as the Kings extended their efforts to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. This on the heels of an amazing performance in their last game, Tuesday versus Anaheim. It was a game that I described as featuring perhaps Quick’s best period of hockey, ever, and I’ve seen a lot of them. The Kings won that one. Could they beat Chicago at home?

Thursday it was Chicago in town, a team that has been beat up of late, losing to Nashville and Calgary, though winning Wednesday against Arizona, in OT. The Kings were coming off the earlier referenced 2-1 win versus Anaheim, and a similar 2-1 victory versus Columbus. Prior to that, they had lost huge (9-3) to Colorado and beaten Chicago.

The Kings should expect to beat the Blackhawks, one of the worst teams in the league if you take the records as evidence (you should). And they needed to beat them, with four games to go. According to the calculations most people follow, the Kings needed three of four games (as wins) to end the season. And even that would be a fluid thing, depending upon what certain other teams—Minnesota, Dallas, Vegas, Vancouver—were able to marshal.

But as the cliché goes, only the little picture mattered, in the face of what the Kings could do to their opponents in this specific contest. They came out and played a rather even first period versus the Blackhawks. Quick did not have to be spectacular, but neither did Collin Delia, who allowed a single goal in a period which ended 1-0 for LA. The goal came off the stick of Phillip Danault, who put in his 26th, a five-game goal streak being established. He spun backwards on a point shot and swept the puck in on a backhand whack with about 12 minutes gone in period one.

The shots were 17-6 in LA’s favor, but that number is deceiving. The Kings were not three times better than the Hawks, nor was Delia three times better than Quick.

But in the way things go, the second period at halfway saw the Kings score goal number two. The puck came to Edler at the point, and he flung it towards the net, but going wide. It hit Kopitar in front and was redirected into the cage. This was Kopitar’s 19th goal of the year.

Chicago got one back on a disputed goal that went to review for offside. Was Kane out of the zone? Was his teammate inside of it? The review said yes on both counts, and Chicago edged up to 2-1 Kings with about five minutes left in period two. The Kings, having lost the challenge, were to be shorthanded. They were ahead of Chicago 26-10 in shots, by the way. The ensuing Chicago PP was largely useless, They got no shots, and Alex Edler blocked a shot from them along the way.

Things progressed with the Kings ahead, but about the only thrill ride as the period wound down was Athanasiou to Byfield with Arthur Kaliyev lurking. They did not score.

Period three saw LA pot two goals, both shorthanded. The first was Athanasiou, unassisted, to make the game 3-1 for LA. Fifteen seconds later, the Kings added another, and the game finished 4-1.

Bigger picture, the West opened up some given the results on the night—mostly by teams which lost (the Canucks, Dallas). The Kings were third in the Pacific with 94 points. The wild card teams were Nashville, with 93, and Dallas, on 91. The first team outside was Nashville, with 89 points, trailed by Vancouver, with 87.

Alex Edler of the Kings said after the game, “We’re just looking one game at a time. That’s all you can win. We won’t look beyond the next game. We’re only looking at the next game. That’s where our focus is right now.” He was returning after a long absence due to injury.

Kings coach McLellan would say similar things: “They’re all tough games. Real good recovery after the goal against.” He elaborated on that, then said further, “I don’t think we approached the game any differently [from Tuesday]. We had a little more aggressiveness in our game, though we didn’t change anything tactically. We capitalized on the chances that we had. We had fewer chances in the third period than the first, but we can up with [two goals]. We found a way to put the nail in the coffin if you will.” He cited the pride with which opponents typically play, no matter where they are in the standings.

Anaheim visits the Kings Saturday with the chance to play a bit of a spoiler role, though the Kings’ playoff hopes get stronger with each LA win and loss by the others in the West.

Notes
In the “all good things must come to an end” category, Zamboni driver Luis Vizcaino was working his 1707th home game for/in Los Angeles. He has missed only one game in 42 seasons. The game marked his final one.

Brian Kennedy is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

K’Andre Miller on the Verge of Stardom

K’Andre Miller on the Verge of Stardom

The New York Rangers have assembled a very talented, young roster, highlighted by a former Norris Trophy winner (Adam Fox), a defending Vezina Trophy winner (Igor Shesterkin), a recent first overall pick (Alexis Lafreniere) and a recent second overall draft pick (Kappo Kakko). But though all of those players are critical to the Blueshirts’ future, K’Andre Miller could turn out be the most important of all.

read more
Toronto out and Detroit in? Teams most likely to rise and fall in the playoff race

We identify the most vulnerable candidates in each division -- plus the non-playoff teams from last season that are ready to take their place. [...]

How NHL players would change the Stanley Cup playoffs

A move back to 1-8 conference seeding? Best-of-3 in early rounds? We checked in with more than a dozen stars for their opinions. [...]

NHL Future Power Rankings: Predicting best, worst teams for the next three seasons

Are the Avs and Lightning set up for long-term success? Which teams could shoot up the standings soon? How do teams with young stars fit in? [...]

Lightning, Magic donate to Hurricane Ian relief

The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts while the Orlando Magic are donating $1 million. [...]

Rasmus Sandin signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday. [...]

Flyers' Couturier dodges surgery as season nears

Despite not participating in any preseason games yet, Philadelphia veteran forward Sean Couturier will not need surgery on an upper-body injury, the Flyers said Wednesday, though he remains week-to-week. [...]

Leafs captain Tavares to miss beginning of season

John Tavares will be out at least three weeks with an oblique injury, Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said Tuesday. [...]

Sharks', Preds' Russian players a go for Prague

Russian players will be allowed to play in Prague when the Sharks and Predators meet. [...]

Canucks' Boeser (hand) to miss 3 to 4 weeks

Canucks winger Brock Boeser underwent hand surgery after injuring himself Saturday during training camp. [...]

Canada drops vax mandate for athletes, visitors

The Canadian government confirmed Monday it will no longer require COVID-19 vaccines or the use of masks for visiting athletes and other noncitizens as part of relaxed travel measures that… [...]

Ever wonder what it would be like if your everyday car was a ZAMBONI?!?!?

Wonder no longer…

Check out The Zambonis' latest hit, "Slow Whip"!