The Los Angeles Kings began their journey as the defending Stanley Cup Champions with a beautiful ceremony last Saturday to commemorate their achievement. Everything since then has been quite forgettable (at least for the Kings). Does this have the makings of a Stanley Cup hangover?
Game 1 vs. Chicago Blackhawks
The Kings kicked off the 2013 NHL season with a live ceremony for the entire hockey world to watch on NBC. It was unique, special, and maybe a little long. The team was announced one by one as they skated onto the ice to pick up their Stanley Cup rings. They then had the opportunity to raise the Stanley Cup and pass it around one last time in front of the home crowd. Finally, they paid tribute to the Sandy Hook, Connecticut victims and then sent their Championship banner up to the Staples Center rafters.
After about 25 minutes of pregame ceremonies, it was finally time to start the 2013 NHL season. Unfortunately, the Kings looked more like a team that had just ended a season instead of one ready to start fresh. The team committed numerous mental mistakes and Jonathan Quick was less than stellar in a 5-2 loss. But alas, it was the home opener and the focus was on the banner raising that Los Angeles had waited 7 long months for. Additionally, a slow start should be expected with Anze Kopitar and Willie Mitchell out of the lineup, right?
Game 2 @ Colorado Avalanche
Bad news followed the opener as Matt Greene sustained a back injury that would require surgery and keep him out for 2-3 months. The Kings placed Greene on the IR and recalled Andrew Bodnarchuk from AHL affiliate Manchester. Meanwhile, Jake Muzzin entered the lineup on defense with Mitchell still out. There was some good news to slightly dull the impact of Greene’s injury at least. Anze Kopitar was ready to return from his knee injury for game 2 of the season. To get Kopitar into the lineup, head coach Darryl Sutter made a somewhat surprising move and scratched Simon Gagne from the lineup. Gagne was a -3 in the opener and recorded no shots in 16:40 of playing time.
The lineup changes looked solid through two periods in Colorado and the Kings held a 1-0 lead after a goal by Kyle Clifford. Things went completely awry in the third period though and Los Angeles gave up three unanswered goals to lose 3-1.
Game 3 @ Edmonton Oilers
Still looking for their first win of the young season, the Kings made another lineup change heading into game 3 in Edmonton. Dustin Penner was informed he would be a healthy scratch after a poor performance in Colorado and Brad Richardson was inserted into the lineup.
The game against Edmonton was a sloppy, penalty-filled affair. The Kings found themselves with another 1-0 lead after two periods thanks to Jeff Carter’s first goal of the season. They failed to hold the lead yet again as controversy and theatrics took over with less than two minutes left in regulation.
The Oilers initially thought they had tied the game on a powerplay goal with 1:05 left by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The goal was reviewed and waived off after a lengthy discussion between officials because of a “player in the crease.” It was just another hurdle that the Oilers would leap over as Nail Yakupov tied the game in dramatic fashion with 4.7 seconds left. As the game went to overtime, the Kings took their 9th penalty of the night and paid for it when Sam Gagner scored the winner in overtime on the powerplay.
With the overtime loss, the Kings earned their first point of the season, but finished Week 1 with a disappointing 0-2-1 record.
Interesting Numbers Through Week 1
- The Kings are 0 for 19 (0%) on the powerplay this season. The only other team yet to score with the man advantage is Detroit (0 for 15).
- The penalty kill is 15 for 18 (83.3%), allowing one powerplay goal in each of the first three games.
- Kyle Clifford is the early team leader in points with 4 (1 goal, 3 assists). He and Jordan Nolan (1 goal, 1 assist) are the only multi-point players on the roster currently.
- Clifford, Nolan, and Colin Fraser are the only players with a positive +/- rating with a +4, +3, and +3 respectively.
- Team captain Dustin Brown is a team worst -5 through three games.
- Drew Doughty is averaging an astounding 29:42 of ice time per game, including 33:25 in the overtime loss to the Oilers.
- Jonathan Quick has started all 3 games, recording a 3.33 GAA and .891 save percentage.
- Saturday, 1/26 @ Phoenix, 5pm PST
- Monday, 1/28 vs. Vancouver, 7pm PST
- Thursday, 1/31 vs. Nashville, 7:30pm PST
It’s time to get rid of this hangover before it does too much damage.