Waking up with the Kings: November 18
-The Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers 1-0 in a game that featured a raised pace and breathtaking goaltending at opposite ends of the ice. Ben Scrivens was recognized for his second consecutive shutout, though Henrik Lundqvist, the game’s second star, is also well deserving of praise by virtue of his 29-save performance, one that included stops on Jarret Stoll while sprawled in the second period, and a glove save on Alec Martinez and sequences involving Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar in front of the New York net in the third. A heavily influential part of this game occurred when the Kings were whistled for three penalties over a three minute and 10 second stretch of play in the second period, necessitating five minutes and 10 seconds of consecutive shorthanded time that included two separate five-on-threes. Scrivens stopped all 11 power play shots he faced and also benefited from strong stick work and defensive positioning to disrupt several quality chances and odd-man rushes in a game that was perhaps a touch too wide open for the team’s taste. Robyn Regehr had a timely 5-on-3 block on a Brad Richards shot, Slava Voynov broke up a Carl Hagelin-Derek Dorsett two-on-one, and many particulars of the team’s defensive attributes were noticeable in a game that featured a brisk pace and 67 shots.
-At even strength the Kings were the better team. Having generated their best pressure of the trip early in the second period, they solved Lundqvist on a fluky deflection off Anton Stralman’s skate from a Tyler Toffoli shot 1:23 into the middle session before heavily applying pressure prior to finding themselves in penalty trouble. The Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams line is good by default, which doesn’t always merit a mention in Waking up with the Kings. On Sunday night they were excellent, and their play at even strength probably represented the best play by any line on any team during the four-game trip.
-Darryl Sutter has often referenced the team’s even keel approach, and that even during bouts of adversity the leadership core is able to keep the mood in the room level. So in the past three weeks, as goaltender Jonathan Quick succumbed to an injury to go along with the injuries suffered by Kyle Clifford, alternate captain Matt Greene and defending Western Conference leading goal scorer Jeff Carter, the team has been able to shrug off the lineup adjustments during this shift towards the youngest group of players forming the team’s roster since they won the Stanley Cup. Though the quality of the opposition they faced on the trip isn’t on the same level of what will be seen on the upcoming Vancouver-San Jose road set, there was no drop-off in their adherence to the tried and true, patient systems play. It speaks to the continued evolution and establishment of the team’s culture and the players’ willingness to “buy in” under Sutter.