The Key Three: Jan. 7
Three key aspects of the Kings' 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
1. POWER (PLAY) OUTAGE
Over the first 19 games, the Kings were 16-for-79 on the power play, a respectable 20.3-percent success rate. In their last 23 games, the Kings are 6-for-88, a jaw-dropping ``success’’ rate of 6.8 percent. It’s fair to say that the Kings’ power play reached its low point Saturday, in an 0-for-8 effort against Columbus, which entered the game with the second-worst penalty-kill rate in the NHL. The Kings did have 16 shots on goal in 13 minutes, 36 seconds, of power-play time, but too many of the shots were the type of ``fade-away jumpers’’ that coach Darryl Sutter is trying to weed out. It starts with net presence, and the Kings didn’t have enough.
2. PARADE TO THE BOX
The Kings have scored a total of only 16 first-period goals this season, so their ability to get off to strong starts is critical. The Kings, in a way, took themselves out of the flow of the game in the first period with a series of penalties. Kyle Clifford’s matching roughing penalty in the first minute wasn’t, by itself, harmful, but it did set a tone for the rest of the game. The Kings took penalties at the 8:26 mark (Drew Doughty for cross-checking), 11:03 mark and 17:59 mark (both by Justin Williams for roughlng). The game was ragged, in part because of all the special-teams time, and the Kings never seemed to get into a rhythm.
3. NO STARS AT STAPLES
It’s been said before. For a low-scoring team such as the Kings, in a tight game, a top player has to do something to change the course of the game. Anze Kopitar? He had six shots on goal, but he also had nine minutes of power-play time and did not score. Mike Richards? One shot on goal in 22-plus minutes. Dustin Brown? Two shots in 23-plus minutes. Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson? Combined, they had more shots blocked or miss the net (nine) than they had shots on goal (eight). It’s fine for the third- and fourth-line players to contribute energy, but the top players need to lift the Kings out of this massive scoring slump.