Kings know they need to be better in Game 2
CHICAGO -- The back-to-back games to start the Western Conference Final means the Los Angeles Kings won't have much time to dissect their play in Game 1. They don't need it.
The Kings know exactly why they lost, 2-1, to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at United Center. They know exactly what they can't do in Game 2 Sunday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"Too many turnovers, not quick enough, not physical enough and nearly not enough puck possession time," center Anze Kopitar said. "I thought we got a little bit better in the third, but [Sunday] it's gotta be 60 minutes."
The Kings have won their past six series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs because they have always found a way to get to their heavy, grinding, forechecking game. They never really got to it Saturday in part because the Blackhawks were quick with their transition game but mainly, some Kings players were saying, because they were uncharacteristically cute with the puck and it led to turnovers.
Cute is not a word typically associated with how the Kings play. It's never a good thing when it is.
"Managing it through the neutral zone, there are times when you have to dump it, but we were trying to make the extra play," Kopitar said. "A little tick of the puck, a bounce here and there and they're going the other way. We can't afford that."
And what happens when the Blackhawks go the other way?
"It's definitely difficult," Kopitar said. "It's not just this particular team, but any team in the NHL, if you turn the puck over in the neutral zone nothing good is going to happen so we have to clean that up."
For the Kings on Saturday, their cute or sloppy -- insert your favorite adjective here -- play in the neutral zone meant the Blackhawks were able to keep the pressure on. Sure, their 17 shots on goal in the first period weren't terribly dangerous, but that many shots through 20 minutes and a total of 31 through 40 minutes means the Blackhawks had the puck a heck of a lot more than the Kings.
"We were playing more 'D' zone than we wanted to," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "We've gotta get pucks in. We've gotta get our forecheck going, get our speed, big, heavy, physical game going."
That typically starts with the Kings' top-six forwards, but Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner combined for eight shots on goal. Williams scored L.A.'s lone goal, but only because he got his stick in the way of Dave Bolland's clearing attempt and redirected the puck into the net.
"Having trouble keeping up," is how Kings coach Darryl Sutter described it.
Sutter put his lines in the proverbial blender in the third period. The only one that stuck was the Penner-Richards-Carter trio.
The Kings were better, or at least more dangerous, but they still couldn't capitalize.
"The two guys that scored for them are going to score goals," Sutter said. "We have guys that have to score goals."