LA Kings vs. Avalanche: Team ‘not at their level’ in 4-1 loss

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) /

The LA Kings were Avalanche’d in Colorado over the weekend, as Todd McLellan indicated the team just isn’t at their level yet.

After Friday’s dominating performance by the home team, the LA Kings and Colorado Avalanche wrapped up their two-game series on Sunday. The game was nationally televised on NBC Sports Network, but the start time was moved up an hour and a half from the previously scheduled time with a snowstorm scheduled to hit Denver.

The snowstorm appeared to be the least of the LA Kings’ troubles as the team was reportedly dealing with an illness among several players on the team. Alex Iafallo was out on Friday with said illness, and the Kings canceled practice on Saturday, with no morning skate scheduled for Sunday either.

Add to that, Dustin Brown was scratched from the lineup with what the team deemed an upper-body injury.

“He’s been carrying it for a little bit…But we need some guys to get some rest to get healthy and recharge the batteries as early as tomorrow,” Todd McLellan said following Sunday’s 4-1 loss.

In terms of the product on the ice, the Kings came out much better than on Friday. Both teams had a few solid scoring chances in the early goings of the first period, with Colorado striking first. A nifty move from Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri accompanied with a toe-drag was in what we’ll call a “learning moment” for Tobias Bjornfot, who was caught playing the puck and not the man.

The Avalanche outshot the Kings 41-28, marking their 16th consecutive game that Colorado has held their opponent under 30 shots in a contest. You have to go all the way back to 2020, New Year’s Eve, to be exact, a 5-4 overtime loss when the Wild registered 33 shots on net.

Colorado was widely projected to be the Stanley Cup favorites entering the shortened 2021 season, and they are getting it done with a solid defense and penalty kill. Entering Saturday, the Avalanche were allowing 24.9 shots-per-game and killing off 86.5 percent of their penalties. Why is this relevant?

Because they are the franchise that the LA Kings should be modeling their rebuild after. The Avs have so much speed on offense. Combine that with excellent defense and goaltending from Philipp Grubauer, it’s easy to see why the Avalanche are heavily favored.

Of course, the Kings are getting outstanding goaltending in the heir to Jonathan Quick in Cal Petersen. The 26-year-old stopped a career-high 44 saves on Friday night and saved 37 more on Sunday.

“Outstanding. Very calm,” McLellan said of Petersen. “[He] gave us a chance to, you know, to steal one the other day. Today, we played a better game, but we’re not at their level yet. But he was what we thought he could be and what he has been all year. He was outstanding.”

The Kings tallied their lone goal of the game from Kurtis MacDermid with 6:07 left in the game to avoid being shutout in consecutive games. An interesting note regarding MacDermid – he is now tied for the team lead with Drew Doughty in even-strength goals (2) among defensemen. And you wonder why Rob Blake is looking for a dynamic left-shot defenseman.

It’s something we discussed on the latest podcast episode with The Fourth Period‘s Dennis Bernstein. The Kings need more offense from the left side of their defense. Mikey Anderson and Tobias Bjornfot don’t project to be Drew Doughty-type point producers.

An interesting note regarding Anderson, and take it for what it’s worth.

  • Small picture: 3 SOG Sunday
  • Medium picture: 5 SOG in his last three
  • Big picture: First 10 games in 2021: 4 SOG combined, Last 15 games: 15 SOQ

He’s shooting the puck more, which is good. It shows that Anderson is becoming more comfortable as he continues to develop. But, again, don’t expect him to put up a ton of points. He’s sound defensively.

LA Kings Schedule

The Kings are scheduled to begin a critical two-game set against the Blues at Staples Center Monday night, but the team will be spending the evening in Colorado due to the snowstorm, per Todd McLellan. It’s also worth noting that Jonathan Quick is still not available to play. Assuming they can get home and play, might we see Troy Grosenick get the nod in net? Something to monitor.