Hot and Cold Kings
Back to back road games on back to back nights are always tough. For the Kings, it was a hot and cold pair of events. I would just like to question why Terry Murray continues to give Jonathan Quick the abundance of the starts. Wednesday night against the Oilers, Quick played good enough to lead his team to victory. Last night against the Canucks he played way above average (aka awesome) despite what the box score showed. However, I still would of given Quick the night off for one of the games in order to give him some extra rest prior to Saturday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Even with the team getting a day off in between Thursday and Saturday, it still might have been a better decision to go with Ersberg against either the Oilers or Canucks. Of course, that is just my opinion but I’ll stand by it.
Now, the questions arise as to will Quick get the call again against the Blackhawks or will Terry Murray turn to Erik Ersberg to see if it will give some sort of spark to the Kings skaters. It is not an enjoyable statement to make, but sometimes when a team knows it needs to step up because of who is starting between the pipes, they rise to the occasion.
If the Kings want to come out of Saturday’s tilt with the Blackhawks victorious, the first thing they need to do is find an offensive jump. Yes, they scored three goals against the Oilers on Wednesday and I understand that they played the following night against Roberto Luongo, but they need to finish on the chances they obtain during the game. They need to find more consistent ways to get the puck into the back of the net. Consistency is a huge factor to every hockey club, and when it is not part of the teams game in any situation, it is usually a sign of disastrous things to come. Quick was consistent in his play on back to back nights, but the Kings scoring was not. The bigger issue is that it has been this way all season long. In order to get a winning streak going, you need to get the goal scoring on the right track.
As I mentioned earlier, Quick was great against the Canucks, even better then he looked the night prior against the Oilers. It is somewhat trivial that the better game played was a defeat compared to the game that was played on an average level? 30 saves on 33 shots against the Canucks and 22 saves on 23 shots agianst the Oilers has shown that Quick’s play has been improving on a game by game basis. Now, in order for the Kings to begin finding life and gaining win streaks, the offense needs to be brough back to life.
Alexander Frolov, who was the teams leading scorer last season, has been pretty much invisible most nights for the Kings so far this season. What has gone wrong with Frolov’s game? If anyone has the answer, kindly inform him so he can correct his game. It is still early, not time to panic (just yet). In 25 games, Frolov has 6 goals and 12 assists for 18 points and a dismal plus/minus rating of minus-6. Something is seriously wrong with Frolovs game as he just can not seem to find it this year.
In a game like last nights, the injury to Ryan Smyth shows. This has been a huge blow to the line up and the offensive production. He has missed four games and is still second on the team in scoring with 23 points in 22 games. This is a sign of an offensive that has yet to find it’s groove outside of the top line. Now with Smyth gone, the top line center and leading scorer Anze Kopitar has started to take a step back with his production.
Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, Alexander Frolov and the rest of the Kings make-shift top nine need to start chipping in offensively and help put the Kings back on the right track.
The youngsters that have been called up so far this season have not done much in helping the team out either. So Dean Lombardi and company need to find something to be a quick fix up front. What that will be is yet to be seen. Andrei Lokitonov, Brayden Schenn, and all the rest of the non-regulars have not had an easy time adapting to the NHL and will obviously need some further development with their minor league teams.
With the powerful Blackhawks in town to finish out the month, the Kings will look to finish above the .500 mark with a victory. They are currently 6-6 in the month of November and are currently sit in 5th place in the Western Conference with 30 points. They trail the pacific divion leading San Jose Sharks by 6 points (with the Sharks playing this evening). It is still very early in the year and a lot of things are yet to happen. With a bit of help from the point producers, Novemember can end with a bang and bring the team into December on the (hopeful) path for positive outcomes.