While their work on the power play has been effective this season, the LA Kings had a setback on Monday, leading to a costly defeat.
Entering Monday night’s contest against Vegas, the LA Kings had a power-play percentage of 21.5 — good enough for 14th in the NHL. While that number may not exactly make opposing penalty-killing units sweat profusely, the Kings have nonetheless proven that they can be a force on the man advantage.
Monday night, however, was not an indication of this. In fact, the Kings surrendered three breakaways while on the power play — one of which resulting in a goal. That goal, scored by Mark Stone late in the second period, tied the game for the Golden Knights and ultimately proved to be a turning point in the contest.
Following practice on Monday, defenseman Drew Doughty spoke with the media about his team’s efficiency, or lack thereof, on the power play. He began by addressing whether he felt that Stone’s goal was a turning point.
“Yeah, maybe a little bit,” Doughty said. “But the thing was, they got that– I think it was their second goal, which was on the PK for them and we got to go in right after the period. So, I felt like we were able to regroup and come out for the third, but no, [thats definitely] the worst thing a power play can do for us. So, anyone that is part of that power play is super disappointed in ourselves and we need to clean it up.”
What has been noticeable recently as far as what to adjust on their power play, the Kings have had difficulty possessing control in the attacking zone. When they do, though, the PP unit has had a knack for shooting less. So, while it is fair to say that passing the puck around provides a good set-up for scoring chances, the lack of shots on the man advantage has been an issue as of late. Above all else, though, the Kings need to avoid giving up shorthanded goals which, while rare, is unacceptable. That goes especially against a team as deep and talented as the Golden Knights.
There will be adjustments made on the power play, as a result. Doughty himself attested to this.
“I think you’re going to see some parts moving around there, change some things up,” the blueliner noted. “But I mean they’re just dumb plays. I mean, just putting the puck right on the other team’s tape and then, you know, you wait for the puck and it’s still on the other guy’s stick, so it’s going to be hard to catch. So, they’re just not very smart plays, but not only did that [to give] them breakaways, we didn’t create enough opportunities, in my opinion. We need to get back to simplifying the game and shoot pucks.”
If some feel that the club’s power play isn’t effective enough, the Kings’ penalty-killing prowess certainly makes up for it.
Entering Monday night, the silver-and-black boasted the second-best penalty kill with a rate of 84.9 percent. Unfortunately, the Kings surrendered a crucial goal on the PK that gave the Golden Knights a 4-2 lead in the latter half of the third period.
Entering Wednesday night’s rematch against Vegas, the Kings should be more focused on what to do on the power play — or, rather, what not to do.
They still have an uphill battle as far as making the playoff go, but it’s one game at a time for the LA Kings, who, with the help of Drew Doughty, hope to close out their current two-game set on a high note.