Rapid Reaction, feat. Dan Greenspan of NHL.com
Willie Desjardins, on special teams factoring into the loss:
Yeah, they’ve been a problem for us for the last probably three or four games, for sure. I thought it was a big difference. Like, they just scored on the power play, so they got lots of momentum off it, and we didn’t score on ours. When it was 2-1 we had a chance, and we didn’t capitalize. I thought the power play was better. I thought it looked better than it has in the past, but it’s … the same story. We lost the specialty teams battles, and when you lose that, you don’t win many games.
Desjardins, on whether the team’s progress from the road trip disappeared Wednesday:
It wasn’t good enough. There were those power play goals and they took some life out of us. But, saying that, I agree. The first period, they came hard, we weren’t getting out of our zone. They came down hard on our wingers and we just weren’t getting out of our zone cleaner, and when we did, we ended up dumping it to the goaltender, and they were breaking it out clean. It wasn’t a night when we really got our feet going. I thought they took the game away from us. When the game was on the line, I thought they took it away from us. I thought on the road trip we broke out well, tonight we didn’t break out very good.
Desjardins, on why games have gotten away from the team this season:
No, it was good to see us come back in the third. The team’s not quitting. That’s not what’s happening. They were frustrated because things didn’t go right. Some of our young guys have given us some good performances. Petersen’s been good in net. He had a tough one tonight, but it wasn’t him at all. It was good to see Luff and Wagner capitalize. There are some things there where we’re getting a little bit more out of our young players, which is good to see. We lost Kempe early, and that hurt us.
Desjardins, on Adrian Kempe’s status:
I’m not sure. I’m hoping it’s not long. I don’t think it’s going to be long, but you can’t tell until the next morning exactly how it goes overnight, so we’ll have to wait to see.
Desjardins, on whether he needs more from veterans:
I just think that we didn’t recognize exactly what they were going to do. They came down the walls hard on us, we knew they were going to. Right at the start of the second period, Kopitar came back, made a great pass through the middle and we broke out clean and we just had to have more of that, and we didn’t get it tonight. We did need more out of everybody, but there’s no finger-pointing. There’s not one guy that can change us. I talked to the team, I said, ‘when things are going good, you don’t need anybody. It’s when things go bad that you need character and you need leadership,’ so right now that’s what we need. We need our team to stick together and we need guys to lead us and it’s going to be one game at a time.
Drew Doughty, on losing critical moments and letting the game get away:
We didn’t come out hard enough. We basically lost every battle in that first period and because we lost those battles we were taking penalties and then they started getting power play opportunities and our PK was absolute horse — was brutal tonight — and yeah, if you don’t want to win battles and you don’t want to hang on to the puck and make good decisions with the puck, get pucks in when you need to and make plays when you need to, then we’re going to take penalties and the game’s going to run away from us just like it did there.
Doughty, on tonight’s game being the fourth loss by at least four goals this season:
Playing defense is just about pride and hard work. That really is what it is about. You can talk about all the Xs and Os, and obviously we need to be in those positions and we need to use that as guidance, but ultimately the game of hockey is about making reads and plays in a spurt, a quick second. If you’re not willing to do the job for the guy beside you, I know we all are, but if you’re not going out there and doing everything you can possible to not allow them to get a goal on us then you’re not doing a good enough job for us. I think we’ve lost that a little bit. We’ve just got to be hungry. I don’t know, defense is just pride, that’s all it is and if you aren’t playing with pride then you’re going to lose every single hockey game.
Doughty, on whether the problems on the penalty kill tonight seemed to snowball:
Well, every goal was kind of similar. Well, two of them were similar. It was two kind of low three-on-ones and we can’t be having three-on-ones at the net for sure. And then the other one was just a little sauce from high in the net and that’s not a goal that we should ever, ever, ever let in. It’s just, once again, we know what we’ve got to do on the PK and we’re not executing it and that’s why they’re making us look foolish and it’s once again about pride and the will to do it. So that’s it.
Doughty, on how uncharacteristic of a loss this is for a team that has always prided itself on defense:
This is not what we ever envisioned. We still really focus on defense and we never want to lose that part of our game and I don’t have a reason as to why it’s happening right now. Our goalies are playing well so you can’t ever blame it on a goalie and you can’t blame it on Jonathan Quick being out, as much as he helps. The goalies have been amazing so it’s not on them, it’s on us. It’s on us in front of them, right from the defense all the way to the forwards. We need to play as a five man unit out there and we’re not doing that and that’s why we’re letting in so many goals.
Doughty, on what happens now:
I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t even know what to say really to that. You know, it’s just a frustrating time. I don’t know what to say. I take it all personal because I’m the guy that needs to get us out of this and I’m doing everything, or I’m trying to do everything I can, and maybe sometimes too much and it’s going backwards on me, but it’s a frustrating time. We need to get out of it and we need to get out of it now. We’ve said that for weeks, but I don’t know what to say anymore honestly, sorry.
Austin Wagner, on getting his first NHL goal:
It was a great play by Luffer. We had chem when we played last year and we’ve obviously worked together in the past over the last year or so I bumped it to him and he gave me a great pass right back to the slot and just kind of shot it quick and that’s what we’ve been working on and I was fortunate enough to have it go in the net.
Wagner, on if anyone picked up puck for him:
Drew grabbed it. I don’t know what happened to it, but somebody has it for sure.
Wagner, on tonight’s takeaway before facing Vancouver and Edmonton this weekend:
I think just winning the battles. We need to be better as a team and we know that so we’re going to get it back together and we’ve got a tough team in Vancouver coming in and an even tougher team in Edmonton. They’re both really good teams and they’ve got some high-end skilled players there so we’ve got to be ready to play and we’re just going to take it one game at a time.
–With the loss, Los Angeles fell to 69-51-12 all-time against the Colorado franchise, a record that includes a home mark of 40-20-8. The loss was only the second in regulation in the last 11 home games in the series. These teams have games remaining at Pepsi Center on December 31 and January 19.
–With the loss, the Kings fell to 3-7-1 against the Western Conference, 2-6-0 against the Central Division, 3-8 in games decided by three goals or more, 1-11-1 when their opponent scores first, 1-9-1 when trailing after the first period, 0-12-0 when trailing after the second period and 2-6-0 when outshooting their opponent.
–Los Angeles fell to 2-2-0 during a stretch of nine consecutive games against Western Conference teams (W @ CHI; L @ NSH; W @ STL; L vs COL; vs VAN; vs EDM; @ VAN; @ EDM; @ CGY).
–The Kings have lost by at least four goals in five of 21 games and at least three goals in eight of 21 games this season.
–Austin Wagner became the second player among Los Angeles’ five rookie skaters (Wagner, Luff, Anderson-Dolan, Rempal and Walker) this season to score his first NHL goal, joining Matt Luff.
–Kyle Clifford recorded his third goal of the season. His career-high is seven goals, set in 2010-11 and 2012-13.
–Ilya Kovalchuk was held without a point for the seventh consecutive game.
–The Kings attempted 63 shots (36 on goal, 10 blocked, 17 missed). The Avalanche attempted 52 shots (34 on goal, 6 blocked, 12 missed). Jeff Carter, Matt Calvert, Colin Wilson and Nathan MacKinnon tied with a game-high four shots.
–Los Angeles won 36-of-71 faceoffs (51%). Adrian Kempe won 1-of-3, Anze Kopitar won 16-of-25, Ilya Kovalchuk won 0-of-1, Dustin Brown won 0-of-1, Nate Thompson won 7-of-17, Matt Luff won 0-of-2, Tyler Toffoli won 0-of-1 and Jeff Carter won 12-of-21. The Kings won a majority of the faceoffs for the 12th time in the last 16 games and the 15th time in 21 games overall.
–Lead photo via Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI