Waking up with the Kings: October 10
-The term “step in the right direction” is often used within the first month of the season as teams across the league make efforts to iron out their inconsistencies, and the Los Angeles Kings’ 4-3 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators was surely that. The Kings received top flight performances by their best offensive players as Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter all contributed with multi-point efforts to improve the power play to a robust 37.5%. Though there will no doubt be some left with a sour taste in their mouths as the Kings were unable to hold a three-goal lead, Ottawa is not a team that can be put in its place for a full 60 minutes, and the Senators’ ability to will themselves back into the game was a reflection of a quality, well-coached opponent shaking off a poor start and relying on an improved compete level and taking advantage of several opportunistic chances to draw even.
-Though the consistent production hasn’t quite materialized, the Kings were generally the better team in five-on-five play, outshooting Ottawa 27-18 at even strength and out-chancing their Atlantic Division opponents. Credit Craig Anderson for stopping 25 of 26 shots during five-on-five play and making several key saves even as Los Angeles quickly found their legs in the first period after killing off an early penalty. The Kings were successful in out-skating the Senators through the first two periods and effectively moved their feet throughout the night to draw the hooking and tripping infractions that tend to spike early in the season. The Kings were quicker getting up ice than they had shown in their three previous games as Matt Frattin’s north-south tendencies and forechecking ability were highlighted in the win, and his speed on the wing was put to use, even if he was held without a point.
-Alec Martinez’s return to the lineup and Daniel Carcillo’s Kings debut both were worthy of generally positive reviews. Martinez earned 3:43 of power play time as part of his 18:09 total time on the ice and was a preferred option over Slava Voynov, who received only 10 seconds of power play time while logging 16:42 TOI. Carcillo logged 11:31 of ice time – all at even strength – and registered five hits as he kept his game simple and effective as he battled effectively for loose pucks and worked pucks deep. He appeared to cause a stir in front of Ottawa’s bench during a stoppage of play in the second period and the Kings leading 3-1; though it’s better that he doesn’t provide any extra fuel for a team trailing by two goals, he was effective in his role in the win.
-As noted previously, there are still defensive issues that the Kings will need to address on this road trip. The compete level appears fine, though some reads have appeared to be off for several of the defensemen, and Voynov’s 16:42 of ice time and scant special teams usage is cause for a minor alarm after he had an off-night in Monday’s game against New York. This is likely indicative of nothing; slumps seep into the games of even the brightest young players around the league.