Waking up with the Kings: November 8
-That low drone that registered on area seismographs over the last week was no earthquake. It was the collective grumbling of Kings fans who were beginning to vocalize their initial stages of gnawing malcontent towards Jonathan Quick’s inconsistent start to the season. It is worth considering how Quick mentally dealt with his performance against Nashville, and how affected him over four consecutive days without a game in his preparation for a visit from the Buffalo Sabres. Whether or not he used his previous performances as motivation, the extended amount of practice time served the goalie well as Quick turned in a fine performance while posting his 26th career shutout. One game does not a trend make – and the Kings will receive a stiffer test from the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow – but Quick stopped several Grade-A opportunities dead in their tracks, especially during a collection of first period sequences as the Sabres controlled much of the possession and dictated the tempo of the game for the opening 20 minutes. His successive saves on Corey Tropp less than two minutes in kept the Kings from having to fight from behind, and he did a great job of moving in front of the blue paint to cut down an angle on Matt Moulson to make a strong right pad save 30 seconds into the second period. He saw only 12 shots over the final 40 minutes, but chalk this game up alongside games in Carolina and Nashville as part of Quick’s finest performances in the young season.
-The Kings’ power play looked excellent even when the pucks weren’t finding the back of the net. The 5-on-4 Mike Richards – Anze Kopitar – Tyler Toffoli combination moved the puck deftly and accounted for one of the two goals; Toffoli also found the crossbar once and was denied on another quality, close-range opportunity. Los Angeles has power play goals in seven of its last eight games and is 6-for-17 over the last four as the man advantage is humming right along at 22.6%.
-The Kings did a good job of limiting Buffalo’s top players as Cody Hodgson was not able to register a shot, and Matt Moulson’s only really dangerous opportunity was snuffed out by Quick. Once L.A. took the lead late in the first period, there were several sporadic flurries of activity that Quick was able to douse, but the pressure that the Sabres mounted in the first period wasn’t sustained. The Kings built up their staple possession game as the 60 minutes ticked away, and by the third period, when the trailing team is likely to raise its desperation level, Los Angeles still continued to forecheck effectively and dictate the game’s cadence.
-Linden Vey contributed with a suitable debut performance that he’ll be looking to build on. Skating with Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan, the line was probably the Kings’ best in the first period as they provided some good energy that stemmed a surge of early Buffalo momentum. On the second of two encouraging shifts, the line continued to work in the attacking zone as Clifford drew a penalty that resulted in a Mike Richards power play goal. Vey also earned special teams time as Darryl Sutter ventured to “put him in opportunities to succeed.” That meant he didn’t see any early third period time during a nearly nine-minute stretch of uninterrupted play as the team skated a forward short with Matt Frattin unable to leave the penalty box and the team looking to maintain its two-goal lead.