While all the teams have been getting adjusted to the new season, the early grace period should be just about over by now. Before scoring four goals last night, the Los Angeles Kings had a combined four goals in their first three games without a single tally coming from one of their centres. Thankfully, Anze Kopitar changed that trend last night with his two goals. Yet, while they’ve looked good on the penalty kill so far, the Kings have had an issue with discipline – or lack thereof, particularly one infraction.
Over the last two games, the Kings had received three Too Many Men calls against them while just narrowly escaping a fourth one. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like the world’s biggest problem but unlike other penalties, the Too Many Men call is, for all intents and purposes, a sign of laziness. Not that it’s necessarily accurate but the Kings have been showing that they’ve been having a hard time staying on the same page when said infractions are called.
The Kings were called for too many men on the ice just once last night and to add some silver lining, it was in the opening period so it’s a bit comforting to know that the silver-and-black watched themselves for the latter 40 minutes. Their previous game, however, they weren’t so lucky. A general attitude is that if a team gets called for a penalty and they successfully kill it off, then all is forgiven. The Kings, however, were caught with too many men on the ice on Tuesday night in Edmonton in, of all stages in the game, overtime. Considering the extra frame is already a 4-on-4 between the two clubs, taking a penalty is simply asking for trouble – but that’s just what the Kings did, especially a call that could have been so easily avoided. The end result: the Oilers scored on the man-advantage and won the game, leaving the Kings winless.
Now, I’m not here to lay blame any coach or player in particular. Whoever has been responsible for the Too Many Men calls should know better for next time. While I sincerely hope the Kings can make fewer trips to penalty box overall, I’d rather see them serve time for an infraction they made that prevented the opposing team from setting up a great scoring chance or worse, actually scoring. As mentioned, the Kings have great on the penalty kill so far. The three power play goals they allowed so far, they only had three men on the ice and yet, they’ve proven to be defensively sound when they were down two men. So, if you’re looking for a positive, there’s one right there.
With all that said, the Los Angeles Kings simply need to keep their heads up when making their line changes. Too Many Men is a fairly common call so this isn’t personal towards the reigning champs but with that said, so much damage can be averted if the Kings just pay attention to who’s coming off and heading onto the ice.
They picked up their first win last night in Phoenix and while that’s a good start, there is always room for improvement and the sooner the Los Angeles Kings can routinely change it up with the legal amount of players, the better.