Wednesday Roster Moves + Angeles Analysis: Between Good & Average

First & Foremost – The Kings announced today that they have loaned defenseman Tobias Bjornfot, as well as forwards Samuel Fagemo and forward Alex Turcotte, to AHL-Ontario. All three players were with the Kings on their recent, six-game trip and each played in multiple games, though each was scratched for at least one game as well. The AHL’s Ontario Reign have another four days to go until the AHL All-Star break, with games coming up on Friday and Saturday, both home against the Tucson Roadrunners. All three players are eligible to play in those games, with both teams off for the five days that follow.

Now, with roster moves completed, the dust settling and emotions mellowing… do you evaluate 3-2-1, Insiders?

Feed me in the comments below. Not just reactions to a 4-1 lead that turned into a 5-4 defeat, but your overall evaluation of a 3-2-1 roadtrip, with 7 points of a possible 12, heading into the NHL’s All-Star break.

Todd McLellan said before yesterday’s game that the result in Carolina would be the difference between a good trip and an average trip. 4-2 would be a good trip in his eyes, while 3-3 would be an average one and the Kings didn’t set out for an average trip. Naturally, the Kings split the difference at 3-2-1, with McLellan pleased with the points banked, though disappointed in knowing it should have been at least eight points and probably more. A pretty fine line between the seven points earned and a pair of blown leads in the third period against Nashville and Carolina. That line separated whatever lies between good and average with great. The Kings played well enough at times to earn more than seven points, maybe even substantially more, but that’s not how things work. Myself included, we’ll all rue the third periods in Nashville and Carolina, though hopefully not for the entirety of the 10 days between last night’s ending and the return to play against Pittsburgh on February 11.

Looking specifically at last night’s game, it was an interesting set of emotions at the second intermission, at least from my standpoint. I sat there incredibly impressed that the Kings scored four goals on eight shots, about as opportunistic as they’ve been all season from a finishing standpoint. It was a damn good period. I also sat without comfort, knowing that the NHL’s most dominant possession team sat on the other side of the ice, having seen 40 minutes go by without any semblance of dominant puck possession. Once they got an early goal, which I think the Kings would like to have played differently in a few different areas, the momentum swung aggressively towards the hosts. Two goals later and the Kings are on the ropes, taking a timeout tied at 4.

They did enough to get to overtime. They did enough to get a point in a building that has seen just seven home defeats this season, the third fewest in the NHL to date (for reference, the others are Boston and Tampa Bay). But still, we all walk away disappointed that the points total didn’t rise to eight, because through 40 minutes, the Kings not only hung in with the Hurricanes, but they took it to the Hurricanes. In what may have been the best 40 minutes played on the entire trip, the Kings showed us how well they are capable of playing, even against elite opposition. Unfortunately, Carolina showed us in the third why they are considered to be elite opposition. That’s what makes 3-2-1 difficult to evaluate. Perhaps that’s what separates the teams that have established themselves as contenders with the ones that haven’t yet, though are pushing towards that status. The Kings will have to find ways to make last night’s game a two-point night moving forward and hopefully that’s a lesson in doing so. Take the wins and take the points, but man……could have and should have been one more, as was said post game.

This morning’s article is the first of the month of February and the first that comes with a break in the schedule. It’s almost unfathomable to think that there are fewer than 30 games remaining in the regular season, but that’s where we stand as of today. As the Kings hit the All-Star break, they sit in a Pacific Division playoff spot by points, tied for the division lead in fact, and in a wildcard spot by points percentage.

An interesting stat that Alex Faust shared with me yesterday – By the time the Kings return to action, all four other teams in the Pacific Division playoff race, as well as Colorado, which currently occupying the other wild card spot when you sort by points percentage, will have all returned to play and they will have all done so on the road. By the time the Kings return to game action, those five teams will have combined for 14 road games and none at home.

It’s actually pretty wild that all five teams are on headed East right after the break, all at the same time. Only Vegas plays games against the Western Conference and it’s against Nashville and Minnesota. The other four teams are all on extended, Eastern trips, similar to what the Kings just came off of, or the one they’ll embark on at the end of this month.

Calgary: 3 (@NYR, @DET, @BUF)
Edmonton: 3 (@DET, @PHI, @OTT)
Seattle: 3 (@NYI, @NJD, @NYR)
Colorado: 3 (@PIT, @TB, @FLA)
Vegas: 2 (@NSH, @ MIN)

It’s a long time to wait, but when the Kings return to action, they will be even on games played with Calgary, Edmonton and Vegas and just one ahead of Seattle. By that time, we’ll be able to evaluate better on points without needing to look at percentage quite as much. The Kings will play 20 of their final 29 games against the Western Conference, including 11 within the division. Lots of four-point games ahead, especially as we get into March and April.

While it’s 10 days without Kings hockey, it won’t be 10 days without action!

Kings forward Kevin Fiala will be back in action this weekend, as he participates in his first-ever NHL All-Star Game. Fiala is off to Florida today, where he’ll be until the Skills Competition on Friday and the All-Star Game on Saturday. I spoke with Fiala yesterday morning for a few pre-event thoughts, which I’ll share over the next couple of days, as well as any content from the All-Star Weekend.

At the AHL level, Ontario captain T.J. Tynan will head to Laval, Quebec to participate in the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic on Sunday and Monday. Tynan was selected as the AHL’s Player of the Month for January, as he picks up steam. Ontario Reign contributor Jared Shafran will have full coverage from those events. We’ll also have a feature to follow tomorrow from Jack Jablonski on the dynamic performances as of late from Ontario winger Martin Chromiak.

Additionally, we’ll have plenty of content coming on Dustin Brown here in the coming days, as we approach Brown’s special night on February 11. 10 Days of Brownie begins today and there will be a new post each day on number 23, a number we’ll see in the rafters at Arena for the first time next weekend. Surely a special night to come.

For now though, Insiders, I’ll be around the comment section all day today for your thoughts and takeaways! Looking forward to interacting, talk soon!

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