Waking up with the Kings: January 22
Several abbreviated notes on Tuesday’s 5-3 Kings loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets:
-Let’s talk road losses. In the shootout loss at Detroit, the Kings were extraordinarily unlucky. In losses to Buffalo, San Jose, St. Louis and Chicago (the second Blackhawks game), the Kings forged an otherwise sound performance that was undone by a costly mistake or two. On Tuesday night in Columbus, Los Angeles put forth a sloppy performance in which mistakes coupled with below average goaltending led to one of the more disappointing road performances of the season. This was no 1-0 loss in Chicago; this aligned much closer to the losses in Winnipeg, Tampa Bay and Dallas. After the red hot start away from Staples Center, Los Angeles has won only one road game in the past month.
-Speaking of the win over St. Louis last Thursday, it’s a shame that the Kings were unable to build off of a three-goal win over one of the league’s hottest teams at the time. I completely agree with Darryl Sutter in that the team’s mojo hasn’t at all been affected by the circumstances surrounding the Detroit loss, but there can still be a conversation about the first period of the Boston game had the Kings not left Joe Louis Arena the victim of an embarrassing officiating hiccup.
-The Blue Jackets are a very good hockey team, and I’m not just saying that because they’ve won seven games in a row. If you recall the Insiders Podcast season preview, you’d remember that Jon Davis and I both made against-the-grain predictions for the 2013-14 season. My firmest prediction would be that Columbus would be a playoff team, and boy, is Ryan Johansen making me look good right now. While I’m serving this two minute penalty for self-congratulating, it’s worth noting that Johansen’s maturation has been the biggest story of a Blue Jackets team that previously identified with a Western Conference style of play before the budding contributions of speed and skill associated with the natural progression of the 21-year-old, who was chosen fourth overall when the Kings hosted the draft in 2010, has paid dividends in the team’s makeup. Already having developed a mobile defense, Columbus has been aided by Ryan Murray, who was selected one spot after Nail Yakupov in the 2012 draft and has logged at least 20 minutes in 13 of the team’s last 17 games. His homerun pass and Johansen’s finish for the Blue Jackets’ second goal stood out as the play of the game.
-That crossbar-and-off-the-back-of-Martin Jones shot by Johansen was one of two goals allowed by the Kings in the final minute of a period. Along with R.J. Umberger’s sharp angled shot, which deflected into the net off Jones’ glove despite appearing to be heading wide with 1:45 remaining in the second, there were three backbreaking goals allowed by the Kings during a game in which they had an opportunity to enter each new period tied.