The Los Angeles Kings had their eight-game point streak snapped Wednesday night, falling to the Washington Capitals 2-0. The Kings played well but were unable to solve Ilya Samsonov, with the Capitals goalie grabbing the 34 save shutout. The team was bound to start losing tight games again, but they can’t make a habit out of it as they did during their six-game losing streak earlier in the season. Here are three takeaways from the loss.
Quick Stellar Again
Jonathan Quick continued his resurgent 2021-22 season on Wednesday. Finishing the game with 36 saves, a .973 save percentage, and 1.05 saves above expected. His rebound control was also much better in this game. The only negative you could point to in his game this season has been rebounds, but he cut it out in this game. He was able to freeze the puck seven times, on 7.298 expected freezes, meaning he almost never kicked out a rebound he shouldn’t have. If he has now figured out his rebound control as well, we might see him improve even further this season, a terrifying thought for the Pacific Division.
He also continues to cement himself as the team’s number one goalie with performances like this. It will be interesting to see if coach Todd McLellan sticks to switching goalies each game on Saturday, as he might want Quick in net to face the Carolina Hurricanes. Cal Petersen has improved recently, but he will need to step his game up even more if he has any hope of dethroning Quick this season. It has been great to see a player most people thought was done, have such a resurgence for the team.
Kings Scoring Issues Return
An inability to score was a huge reason the Kings dropped six in a row early in the season, they broke that trend during the eight-game point streak, but their offensive woes returned against the Capitals. They were able to put plenty of shots on goal in this game but couldn’t convert on the chances they had. Samsonov was good in goal, but the Kings were very wasteful all game.
They need to find a way of converting chances outside of relying on individual players hitting hot streaks. Improving the power play would help this immensely. I actually thought the power play looked better against the Capitals, they were able to generate shots in this game, but couldn’t generate high danger scoring chances. It’s not time to hit the panic button on the team’s lack of offense quite yet, but it is something to keep an eye on as the team comes down to Earth after their big winning streak.
Viktor Arvidsson Returns
One of the biggest stories for the Kings heading into this game was the return of Viktor Arvidsson. He was activated off COVID protocol earlier this week and was ready to go Wednesday. He was reunited on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. He looked a little rusty to start the game, but quickly knocked off the rust and grew into the game. By the end, he was one of the team’s best performers. He was aggressively attacking defensemen offensively and was fast on the forecheck.
He is still looking to find the scoring touch that saw him put up 30-plus goals a few seasons back, but he is still playing good hockey. I think he needs a little bit of puck luck, and maybe a small scoring streak, to get his confidence back. He still looks like he’s fighting the puck a little bit when he gets scoring chances and is possibly in his own head about his scoring struggles. He is an effective player right now, but if he can start grabbing goals at a higher rate, he’ll be a massive addition to this Kings team.
Kings Face a Tough Test Saturday
On Saturday, the Kings will face off against the Hurricanes, a game which will be a huge test for the Kings. The Hurricanes have been one of the best teams in hockey, with just two losses in 14 games. After snapping both their win and points streak, we will learn a lot about the mental strength of this Kings team. Will they crumble back into the team that lost six straight, or will they bounce back with a great performance? Only time will tell.
My name is Austin Stanovich, as a lifelong player and fan I’m hoping to bring my own unique perspective on the hockey world, specifically covering the Los Angeles Kings. As a SoCal native I grew up a Kings fan, and after graduating from Long Beach State in 2020 I’ve joined The Hockey Writers crew as a columnist for the Kings.