A power play that operates with a success rate of more than 20 percent is nothing to bemoan, but often, timing can be just a important as the raw statistics.
The Kings entered Monday with the league's 13th most efficient power play, at 22 percent, and even during their recent 3-5 slide, the Kings have gone 7 for 33 with the man advantage. Yet in each of the last two losses, the Kings have had momentum-turning power plays, meaning that the momentum turned the other way.
Against Philadelphia, the Kings led 1-0 but failed on a two-minute, 5-on-3 power play, then gave up three consecutive goals. Against Calgary, the Kings had a power play with the game tied in the third period and allowed a game-winning shorthanded goal.
"If you score on one out of every five power plays, that's pretty good," Kings winger Justin Williams said. "But yeah, there comes a crunch time when you need a power-play goal, and if you don't get a power-play goal, you need to create a spark for your team.
"It either goes one way or the other. You either create a spark for your team or the penalty killers do their job and it gets their team jacked up. It's not always necessarily scoring a goal. It's creating a lift, and hopefully a momentum swing, for your team."
The Kings spent the late part of Monday's practice working on 5-on-5 faceoffs, but it was also a drill meant to enhance the power play. Coach Terry Murray said the Kings have been, at times, lacking support for the centers on faceoffs, which leads to the penalty killers getting control of the puck, clearing it and eating valuable seconds off the clock.
In recent games, the Kings have had trouble establishing themselves in the offensive zone on the power play. Williams cited, in particular, Calgary's aggressive penalty kill, which he said requires four good passes in order to create an offensive chance. Murray also touched on bringing the puck out of the defensive end and supporting it along the boards.
"When you have issues with your power play, a lot of time it starts with the breakout and getting possession in the offensive zone," Murray said. "Most of the time, that is what it comes down to.
"I think we can all look back over the last several games, in power-play situations, and see that that has been the area that concerns us the most, getting the puck up the ice and then getting it off the boards in the offensive zone."
As two of the Kings' injured players seemingly inched toward a return, the Kings made a couple roster moves Monday as they called up forwards Andrei Loktionov and Brandon Segal from Manchester and put Ryan Smyth on injured reserve.
Loktionov leads the Manchester Monarchs with 17 points in 20 games, while Segal has 14 points in 21 games. One, or both, might get into the game depending on the status of Jarret Stoll, who has missed two consecutive days of practice.
Rob Scuderi, out with a lower-body injury, skated by himself before Monday's practice. Afterward, Murray estimated Scuderi to be at "75 percent."
Stoll, also out with a lower-body injury, did not skate, but Murray said Stoll felt better and might attempt to skate with the team Tuesday morning.
It's unknown whether either play will be able to play Wednesday at Edmonton. The Kings are expected to call up at least one forward from Manchester before Wednesday's game, because at the moment they are one healthy player short of a full roster.
Smyth is expected to be out until mid-December with an upper-body injury.
Murray said Jonathan Quick will start in goal for the Kings on Wednesday, but Murray said he wasn't ready to commit to which goalie would start Thursday in Vancouver.
Entering Monday, Quick had started 22 games, tied for most in the NHL with San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov. Quick was second in the league in minutes played, at 1,309 minutes, 40 seconds. That's just under five minutes behind Nabokov's league-leading ice time.
Erik Ersberg, by contrast, has played 143 minutes, 33 seconds.
Wednesday's game starts a stretch in which the Kings will play 13 games in 23 games, a daunting schedule, particularly for a team that has already played a road-heavy schedule in the first two months of the season.
"I'm going to keep an open mind on it," Murray said. "Quick is going to play the first game, for sure. We'll take it a day at a time with that. I do have an open mind, and I am aware that he's been working very hard.
"The number of games we have played, in this part of the schedule so far, it's a pretty high number. We had played as many games as any team in the league, up until the other day with San Jose, and our road work has been good and it's been hard and demanding. So the awareness to it is there, for sure."
TALK IT OUT
After Monday's practice, Murray met, in the coaches' room, with the team's leadership group, including captain Dustin Brown and alternate captains Matt Greene and Anze Kopitar, for one of his periodic chats about the state of the team.
"We cover stuff that I would like to talk about," Murray said. "I ask the players if there's anything on their minds about anything. Travel, hotels, Christmas break time - with our exceptionally long break that we're going to have, kind of preparing the mind for that -- and just reviewing how everything has gone so far, with the number of games we have played and the two East Coast trips, just talking about that, if there's anything we can do better. Just general stuff that, I think, is real important for a group to be a part of."
WATCH PARTY WEDNESDAY
Join Ian Turnbull at "Socal’s Home of Hockey," the Redondo Beach Café to watch the Los Angeles Kings take on the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 25, 2009 at 6:30pm....more
In addition, starting Nov. 25, Turnbull’s jersey will be permanently displayed at the Redondo Beach Café. Kings’ fans are invited to the Redondo Beach Cafe on Wednesday, Nov. 25, as Turnbull will also have a special dessert item named in his honor, the “5 Goal Turnbull,” a large brownie topped with ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and Oreo crumbs. Five items for each of his sweet record-setting goals!