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The Key Three: Jan. 7

Three key aspects of the Kings' 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Saturday, 01.7.2012 / 7:25 PM PT / Los Angeles Kings | News
By Rich Hammond
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The Key Three: Jan. 7
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets...

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.

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.

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.