February 10, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) makes a save on a shot by Detroit Red Wings center Joakim Andersson (63) in the third period at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Stronger Starts Needed for Kings to be Successful

Feb 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) looks for the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

They certainly made things interesting yesterday but the Los Angeles Kings just didn’t quite have enough gas left in the tank to send yesterday’s game into overtime. Of course, while there’s no disgrace losing to a 12-0-3 team (in this case the Chicago Blackhawks) the Kings shouldn’t feel good about such a slow start that ultimately cost them another game this season.

Prior to yesterday’s game, I pointed out that if the Kings wanted to have any chance to win, they’d have to stay out of the penalty box and that wasn’t the case unfortunately. In the opening frame, the Kings were called for a too many men penalty they could have very easily avoided. Of course, any too many men call could be avoided so that goes without saying. Nevertheless, like their first meeting with the Blackhawks this season, the Kings were guilty for a lack of discipline early on – and also like their first meeting, it cost them. With Chicago already up 1-0, Jonathan Toews scored on the man-advantage to put the home team up by a pair. Luckily for Los Angeles, Toews’ tally was the only power play goal they surrendered yesterday. Still, that’s one more goal that the Kings wanted to give up.

After Patrick Sharp made it 3-0 early in the second, all hope appeared to be lost. The Los Angeles Kings looked slow and lethargic and just didn’t seem to belong on the same ice as the Blackhawks. But by around the 13-minute mark of the second, the Kings started to show some life, creating a bit of momentum for themselves and although they weren’t able to score in the middle frame, they were hoping to at least make a game of it.

Just 56 seconds into the third with the Kings on the power play, Mike Richards blasted a point shot to put Los Angeles on the board and later that period, Richards scored again on the power play to pull the Kings to within a goal. What felt like a one-sided affair on the verge of turning ugly, the defending champs suddenly made things very interesting and with a 6-on-4 man-advantage in the final minute of regulation, the Kings put themselves in a position where they had their fans, as well as Chicago fans, on the edge of their seats.

They couldn’t tie the game but overall, it was a great effort by the Los Angeles Kings to stay competitive and the late rally certainly showcased their resilience. But it was the slow start that unfortunately made the difference and if they can build on that and get going in the early going of a game, they’ll be a lot better off.

As far as yesterday’s sluggish start went, while it’s maddening to have watched the Los Angeles Kings drag themselves around with apparent lacks of heart and drive, other factors come into play that are beyond the team’s control.

One fan in particular noted (and likely a few more) how ridiculous it was to have the Kings on a five-game road trip in the Midwest only to cross two time zones to return home for one game and cross the same two time zones back to the Midwest all within a matter of a few days.

The jetlag could have certainly been looked as a viable excuse yesterday but regularly, there shouldn’t be any excuses – no believable ones, at least. The Los Angeles Kings simply need to burn the candle at both ends at the drop of the puck at the opening faceoff but at the same time, need to pace themselves so that they’re not outhustled and outplayed halfway through the third period. It certainly is easier said than done but the Kings do have their work cut out for them and the sooner they work on having stronger starts, the better – for the team, the fans, everybody.

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Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Los Angeles Kings Slow Start

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