On Sunday night, Oct. 18, 2015 in front of a sellout crowd of 18,230 at STAPLES Center in downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Colorado Avalanche by a final score of 2-1. After a slow start to the season, the Kings have now won two games in a row and for now, all is right with the world. After having been outscored 12-2 in losing the first three games of the season, the Kings have now won the last two games by identical scores of 2-1. These types of close games are nothing new to this team, although they have some potentially prolific scorers on the roster, they do play a defense-first system.
After the first three games, goaltender Jonathan Quick was catching a bit of heat for possibly not playing as well as he can. This was intensified by the fact that when the Kings lost their season opener to the San Jose Sharks by a score of 5-1, the opposing goaltender was former Kings goaltender Martin Jones. Jones was Quick’s backup the last two seasons before being traded away to the Boston Bruins in the deal for Milan Lucic. Boston then traded Jones to San Jose. Jones has been stellar so far this season, having allowed just one goal in four games.
The blame heaped upon Quick has been for the most part, unjustifiable. When a team gives up four or five goals in a game, it is always easiest to just blame the netminder, but in reality it is a team game. When the team is allowing the opponent to shoot at will and from angles, the man between the pipes really has no chance. The goalie has to be able to see shots and react. If it is a shooting gallery where shots are coming from everywhere, it is on the team not the goalie. Also there is the issue of goal support. The Kings only scored two goals in the first three games, so realistically the chances of the team winning any of those games, were very slim.
In a perfect world, a goalie would get a shutout every game, but the world is not perfect. The truth of the matter is, for an NHL team to have a chance at winning games with any regularity, they must score at least two goals. Like Kings head coach Darryl Sutter famously said, “This is a 3-2 league.”
Hopefully the Kings have righted the ship. In these last two games, they have skated with much more of a sense of purpose. They will now have a three-day break before playing three games in four nights to close out the week. That stretch will begin on Thursday night, Oct. 22 in San Jose where they will face a Sharks team which will be without center Logan Couture who suffered a leg fracture during practice last week. The Kings will then be at home to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night before heading to Edmonton to take on rookie sensation Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night, Oct. 25.
Oct. 18, 2015 – Final score: LAK 2, COL 1 – Final shots on goal: LAK 40, COL 23. Power play: LAK 0-4, COL 1-6. Three Stars of the game: 1) Tyler Toffoli – LAK, 2) Anze Kopitar – LAK, 3) Baryden McNabb – LAK. Goaltenders: Jonathan Quick – LAK, Reto Berra – COL
Kings forward line combinations:
Kings defense pairings: