As it appears, the L.A. Kings’ struggles are far from over. Their 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild last night marks their third defeat in a row and sixth in their last nine games. Just 24 seconds into the game, Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu beat Jonathan Quick on a wrap around to give his team a very early lead. The Kings are a notoriously bad team when they are trailing and given the offensive struggles as of late, being down a goal after 24 seconds is bad news for the L.A. Kings. Starting the game off on this note would prove to set the tone for the rest of the night.
At the start of the second period, there was a major scramble in front of Jonathan Quick that led to Drew Doughty laying his body across the net in an attempt to play goalkeeper. Not even two goalies could stop Darroll Powe from notching his third of the year and putting the Wild up 2-0. With four minutes remaining in the second period, Minnesota’s Marco Scandella scored on a delayed high sticking penalty to Dustin Penner. It looked to me like the Kings defense was doing a pretty good job up until they were outnumbered and then Quick lost sight of the puck and it went right past him. I love Jonathan Quick and the Kings can’t rely on him to win every single game, but the past couple of nights he just hasn’t been looking like himself. He made a couple of point blank saves on some breakaways last night, but giving up four goals is very unusual for JQ.
Fortunately the Kings have Dustin Penner to carry them through (joking…but only kind of). Since returning from his wrist injury, Penner looks like a whole new man. Now, I’m not saying he’s perfect because he certainly still has his Pennerisms, but he looks so much stronger on the puck. He’s hitting guys, he’s forcing turnovers, he’s carrying the puck up the ice, he’s even SCORING GOALS. Just four minutes into the third period, Penner scored his second goal of the season to give the Kings a chance to come back. Three of his five points on the season have come in his last three games since returning from the injury. I’m convinced he’s been reading our blogs, so Kings fans, you can thank us over here at Rink Royalty for lighting the fire under DP.
While Penner’s goal sparked a lot more energy and offense from the Kings, it didn’t stop the Wild from creating offense of their own as Cody Almond took a shot on Quick that went trickling through the 5-hole. That right there is a goal that you don’t see Quick give up EVER. That is when I knew something was up, but I’m confident that he will be able to bounce back and continue to be the best player on this team, because that is just the kind of dude he is. As the clock was winding down to the final minutes, the Kings continued to push and eventually added another goal to the scoreboard when Trent Hunter scored his first of the season. But it was too little too late for the Kings, despite a strong effort that led to 18 shots in the third period alone.
In goal for the Wild was 21 year-old Matt Hackett of the AHL’s Houston Aeros. Last night was his NHL debut and he proved that he has the capability to be an elite goaltender in this league. He made some unbelievable saves and stopped 42 of 44 shots. Keep this guy on your radar hockey fans, he’s got some real talent.
And now I’m going to start a quick little rant because quite frankly I’m frustrated. I love this team, as has been made VERY clear, but it kills me to watch them continue to spiral downward. Can someone please tell me why Drew Doughty only has 2 goals? I get it, he’s a defenseman but JJ has 5 and the rookie Voynov has 4! I know he missed a significant amount of time with the injury, but he isn’t making 7 million dollars a year to be nearly invisible out there. Sometimes I see the flashes of brilliance when he navigates the puck, but the scoring isn’t there and it hasn’t been since early last season. The Kings need Doughty to get going and to stop being so hesitant to shoot the puck. Kopitar, Williams, and Gagne also need to get out of this funk. They started out the season on fire, but it has slowly started to burn out. What is it going to take to get these boys back in action? All I know is that I’m missing Mike Richards right about now and I hope his recovery happens sooner than later because it is evident that this team really needs him.
The Kings will play the Dallas Stars at home on Saturday before beginning a four game road trip to Boston, Columbus, Detroit, and Toronto. The good news is that the Kings often play well on the road so maybe this will be the extra boost they need to get out of the slump. Tune in on Saturday night at 7:30pm.
Click here to watch the highlights from last night’s game.
Tags: Anze Kopitar Boston Bruins Cody Almond Columbus Blue Jackets Dallas Stars Darroll Powe Detroit Red Wings Drew Doughty Dustin Penner Houston Aeros Jack Johnson Jonathan Quick Justin Williams Marco Scandella Matt Hackett Mike Richards Mikko Koivu Minnesota Wild Simon Gagne Slava Voynov Toronto Maple Leafs Trent Hunter