Los Angeles suffered through a dreadful start on Monday night in Edmonton, again ceding crisp passing sequences during zone entries to a faster, more skilled team, and if not for Jonathan Quick, the Connor McDavid show could’ve opened up a lead wider than 2-0. L.A. was again burned by a neutral zone turnover in falling behind 1:04 into the game, but again, two teams are on the ice, and credit has to go to Pat Maroon, whose silky smooth hands around the net and willingness to use his size to go into hard areas has resulted in 25 goals this season. The Oilers doubled their lead nearly 12 minutes later when the Kings had an opportunity to clear the zone at the beginning of a penalty kill, but Trevor Lewis skated past a bouncing puck off an Anze Kopitar chipped deflection, and Edmonton didn’t hesitate to turn the miscue into production as McDavid snapped the puck toward the front of the net, where Milan Lucic’s second effort hit pay dirt after he used his intuition to gain space from the Los Angeles defense in finding a dangerous area in front of the crease. McDavid was something to behold in the first period, but the Kings for the second straight night were challenged in exiting their zone cleanly, working their possession game in the offensive zone and generating shot volume. Though this changed later in the game, Los Angeles again had little life early as its first period goal differential dropped to minus-13.
There wasn’t much to write home about from Rogers Centre last night, but if there’s anything that will stand out some six months to six years from now, it’s that Jarome Iginla, wearing a Kings jersey with #88 on the back, tried to instill some life into his team by fighting Maroon 54 seconds into the second period. LAKI is ambivalent about fighting in the game, but that’s a 39-year-old player sacrificing his body in his ninth game with his new team and going toe-to-toe in an extended bout with a 6-foot-3, 230-pound man mountain for the sake of trying to wring several extra neutrinos out of a group that didn’t exactly show itself to be extraordinarily engaged through stretches of the first period. Again, this isn’t to glorify fighting, but there’s something artistic or poetic or at least abstract about seeing a to-be Hall of Famer so badly want to win a game that he’d throw himself into the line of fire against a much younger player. In another display of Iginla’s force, he also made a power move and lowered a shoulder to stand up Adam Larsson when the young defenseman attempted to make a hit on him some 15 feet into the Edmonton zone in the second period and unsteadied the flatfooted young Oiler’s balance. It’s not yet clear whether Iginla will play past this season – and perhaps it’s worth asking why a younger player didn’t step in in place of the team’s oldest player – but if there’s something to take from his late-season stretch during a season about to capsize from the water it has taken on, it was that exhibition of fuel and competitiveness.
There are 10 games left in the regular season, and after addressing certain broader details over the past week, there’s no real point in continuing to hammer them to death in this column. Most of the larger picture observations will come during some sort of season review, so this space will by and large dissect only the game in reflection. Enjoy your Tuesday, Insiders; barring any additional news to report, LAKI will take the recovery day and return for practice on Wednesday. If you have questions, complaints, observations, you’re free to email me, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. As always, thank you for reading and continuing this conversation. Let’s talk tomorrow.