Waking up with the Kings: December 8
-Though it took the Kings perhaps a period and a half to develop their legs, last night’s 3-0 victory over the New York Islanders was another example of the way the team uses composure, patience and quality goaltending to churn out wins in roughly 63% of their games. Martin Jones made key saves in the first period – including one on a Travis Hamonic slapshot from the top of the right circle after a slick drop pass by John Tavares – affording the team enough time to eventually take advantage of the limited chances they generated through the first 35 minutes. Until Alec Martinez fed Anze Kopitar with a tape-to-tape stretch pass that caught the center in stride while breaking into the New York end, the Islanders had won a good share of the puck battles and were effective in forcing the Kings to dump the puck in at the blue line. There was always composure and patience in Los Angeles’ game, but once they were able to establish a lead, they worked with a much heavier share of offensive zone time than they had in earlier stretches of the game.
-John Tavares was held without a point in back-to-back games for the first time this season, and in the two games against Los Angeles he finished with one assist and a minus-two rating. Looking to avoid putting Tavares in situations in which he is most comfortable, the Islanders still earned eight power plays against the Kings in the two games, with Tavares spending a total of 11:23 on the man advantage. He did not generate one power play point. One of the lasting and representative images of the Kings becoming more comfortable in Saturday’s game as it progressed was Linden Vey showing patience and poise with the puck in the offensive zone and eventually drawing a hooking penalty on Tavares late in the second period. Though L.A. didn’t score on the ensuing power play – they’re now scoreless in their last 33 attempts – it helped to stack the momentum back in the team’s favor. In the two games against the Kings, Casey Cizikas was the most effective New York forward, and that’s a good thing. That’s not at all a knock on the hustling forechecker in Cizikas, but more of an indication that Los Angeles was effective in limiting New York’s top players in Tavares, Okposo, Nielsen and Vanek. Those four players combined for one point against the Kings in two games.
-So, Ben Scrivens led the team onto the ice for warm-ups, and Martin Jones received the start. This came following a morning skate in which Jones and Scrivens left the ice at roughly the same time and the team didn’t take any line rushes, which could indicate that last night’s episode was likely an instance of Darryl Sutter not wanting to tip his hand on the team’s lineup rather than any minor, nagging injury on Scrivens’ part. He didn’t explain his decision after the game, nor was he required to. More to come on the team’s goaltending following today’s practice…