Waking up with the Kings: November 15
-Other than the final score, the most important statistic to come out of Thursday’s 3-2 comeback win over the New York Islanders was 6:21. Because the Kings took penalties towards the end of both the first and second periods, New York’s top power play line of Brock Nelson, John Tavares and Frans Nielsen started the shift that ended each period before opening the following period back on the power play while rested and with a fresh sheet of ice at their disposal. Nelson, Tavares and Nielsen each recorded 6:21 of power play ice time – as did Kings penalty killers Robyn Regehr and Slava Voynov – a dangerous development that afforded Tavares, one of the league’s elite stars, opportunities ample opportunities to make an impact offensively. The Kings’ final special teams numbers? They killed off all four New York power plays while scoring a power play goal of their own to tie the game late in the third period. There may be other games that the Kings post more impressive special teams numbers, but in no other game will they have to contend with a player of Tavares’ caliber receiving 6:21 of power play time.
-As disjointed as Los Angeles’ second period appeared, they were conversely more dominant in the third period. Though Mike Richards was denied on an early breakaway, it represented both the tone of the period being set and the first of many quality chances the team was able to generate in the comeback. The momentum swings in this game were fewer and broader than normal. I loved the Kings start, though once the Islanders received a power play midway through the first period, they carried that offensive rhythm through the final 10 minutes of the opening frame and into the second period. That momentum came to an abrupt halt as soon as the teams took the ice in the third. Dictating the pace of the game and outshooting New York 9-3 while generating the vastly superior scoring chances over the final 20 minutes, the Kings also reunited Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli for even strength and power play work. There was a learning process as the rookies weren’t as effective early – though Toffoli did produce a fine 60-minute effort – before finding their bearings late in the game. They earned an important shift together in a tied game with under two minutes to play, and Toffoli’s deflection of a Jake Muzzin puck towards the net lifted the team to an important win in the second game of a four-game trip.
– Jake Muzzin is quietly putting his added responsibilities to use. After going all of October without logging 20 minutes in a game, he has recorded at least 21 minutes in three of his last five outings, producing four assists over that span. Last night’s game-winning goal came as a quick Muzzin release was kept low to the ice and in a perfect position for Toffoli to get a stick on it and change the direction of the puck.
Possession and shot-generating stats also indicate that Muzzin is a very useful player offensively for Los Angeles.
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) November 14, 2013
Robyn Regehr also contributed with one of his finest efforts of the season in the win. In addition to the surplus penalty killing time, he was effective along the boards and had several important rub outs in which he nastily separated Tavares and Nelson from pucks in the third period, quickly ending some Islanders zone time in a tight game.