Waking up with the Kings: October 20
-The Kings should be commended for coming out of the gate with energy and putting together a fine first period after a week spent mostly in the Eastern Time Zone. Darryl Sutter and Drew Doughty outnumbered Colin Fraser 2-to-1 in a small sample vote yesterday in supporting a notion that an early lull and heavy legs do have a potential to seep into a team’s game during the first game back after a long road trip, especially when time zones are leapfrogged. There was no such issue on Saturday. Even though Los Angeles conceded the first goal, they clearly were the better team in the first period, outshooting Dallas 13-5 and taking a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. It was representative of the game’s pace, as the Kings were the aggressors for most of the 60 minutes, operated with near impunity through the neutral zone, took advantage of several turnovers and used an effective cycle while setting up base in the attacking end. L.A.’s first goal was a quality example, as Dustin Brown cut down a Stephane Robidas pass and left the puck for Anze Kopitar along the left wing boards in the offensive zone. Kopitar dropped the puck to Muzzin, who wristed it towards the net as Justin Williams out-battled Brenden Dillon while lifting the second-year defenseman’s stick off the ice to redirect the crease-bound pass past Dan Ellis.
-The penalty kill, which has ranked in the top-10 across the league for four of the last five years, is frustrating the opposition with another streak. During the regular season of the team’s title run, Los Angeles crafted streaks of 42 and 33 consecutive penalty kills; last season the Kings killed off 17 consecutive power plays in late March and 20 consecutive kills over the second half of April as the PK improved as the year progressed. The current streak is up to a modest 14 consecutive kills – a number that could be higher if not for a fluky bounce directly into the path of Jeff Skinner during a well-covered penalty killing situation that had already resulted in a Dwight King shorthanded goal on October 11. “To be honest, that was probably one of the best penalty kills I’ve played against so far this year,” Tyler Seguin told John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor. “They were making smart reads and it’s hard to get in their zone.”
-Jake Muzzin offered an encouraging performance in his return to the lineup. At Saturday’s morning skate, he shared that Darryl Sutter was looking for “a little more physical jam in the lineup” and for him to “play harder on guys.” In 14:06 of ice time he issued three hits and was one of three Kings skaters to block a shot. He also posted two even strength assists, and in his four games played this season, he has one goal and two assists at even strength to go along with one power play assist. They’re not particularly revealing numbers through the season’s first three weeks – he also had three attempts on net blocked last night – but it was a strong enough performance to feel more comfortable about his ability to contribute on and off the stat sheet, so expect him to remain in the lineup when the Calgary Flames visit Staples Center on Monday in Los Angeles’ first Pacific Division game of the season.
-In all five head to head match-ups last season, the Kings and Stars were tied after two periods of play. The Stars outscored the Kings 11-3 in third periods last season while winning three of the five games in the season series. After the score was knotted at two after 40 minutes last night, Los Angeles outscored Dallas 3-0 in the third period.
-Thank you, Insiders, for a fun night in the suite! Courtesy of Jon Bradley, here’s a mix of Insiders and the Ice Crew from the second intermission last night. More photos and more Insiders to come.