The L.A. Kings and the Vancouver Canucks squared up last night at Staples Center in their first meeting of the season. The Canucks jumped out to an early lead thanks to some undisciplined play by the Kings. Just 3 minutes into the game, Trevor Lewis received a five minute elbowing penalty followed by a cross-checking penalty on Drew Doughty two minutes later. The Canucks have the second best power play in the league and didn’t hesitate to show it off as Sami Salo and Andrew Ebbett scored within the first 8 minutes. To cap off the first period, Aaron Rome fired a slap shot past Jonathan Quick to put the Canucks up 3-0 going into the second. Not exactly a great way to start out a game against the reigning champs of the Western Conference.
The Kings were stuck playing catch up the rest of the game, trying to dig themselves out of the massive hole they created. All I can say is thank god Drew Doughty has found his groove again. If there is anyone on this team that the Kings needed to step up and get it done, it’s him. Kopitar and Quick can’t lead this team all on their own, and while Jack Johnson has been outstanding so far, having Doughty at his best is absolutely crucial to the Kings’ success. Doughty scored a power play goal, his second in two games midway through the 2nd period to give the Kings a fighting chance.
That was the only goal scored during the period, but at the start of the third, the Kings came out fighting. They managed to shut down the Canucks offense for the rest of the game and had 15 shots on goal in the third period alone (Canucks had 6). If they had played the whole game the way they played towards the end there, the Kings could have won. Every shot looked like it had a good chance of going in and for the first time that night, the Canucks fans in the crowd had finally been silenced. With 1:10 left in regulation, Mike Richards had a great tip-in off a shot from Kopitar and scored on Canucks netminder, Roberto Luongo to make the score 3-2. The Kings had a few good chances up until the very last seconds, but unfortunately, it was too little too late and they went on to lose 3-2.
I’ve had so many people asking me, “What’s going on with the Kings? I thought they were supposed to be good this year.” That is the single most frustrating question to answer and I recommend that you don’t ask it to me it unless you have a good 15-30 minutes to spare for the answer. I will make it brief but this is what I have to say in that regard. This is a great team with limitless potential (I know, not the “p” word again), but something isn’t clicking…yet. I say “yet” because although this losing slump is beyond unsettling, I am still confident this team will pull through to make the playoffs and maybe even be a serious contender for the cup. Obviously, I am no psychic, but I have been fortunate enough to be sitting in the crowd at nearly every Kings game since I was seven years old and I believe in the team. I also believe that something needs to change to get them going, but I know that the answer to the problem lies within reach. Whether it means a change in the coaching staff, stronger work ethic by the players, or even just simplifying their game by reacting instead of overthinking, I believe they can pull through and make something happen. And now I’ll stop before this turns into my very own version of “I Have A Dream.”