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The Key Three: Dec. 23

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 2-1 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks...

1. The curse of two continues
Try as they might, the Kings simply cannot score more than two goals these days. Against the Sharks, even a second goal would have meant a regulation victory and a huge boost of momentum going into the two-day holiday break. To be certain, Sharks goalie Antti Niemi deserves a large share of credit. He’s been playing well of late, and he made a handful of saves on shots that could easily have won the game for the Kings. The Kings even got a power-play goal -- they had scored only one in their previous eight games -- and they showed tenacity around the net, but got nothing more than Mike Richards’ goal.

2. Quick, the unsupported goalie
If you’re Jonathan Quick these days, what must you be thinking? What is a like for a goalie to know, even if only in the back of his mind, that if he allows more than two goals, his team probably has only a tiny chance of winning the game? It must be quite a bit of pressure, but Quick has not shown it. He was fantastic against the Sharks, just one night after he played 55 minutes and three rounds of a shootout against Anaheim. The Sharks have a high-powered power play, and Quick was a big reason why the Kings’ penalty killers went 5-for-5. He was near flawless, let again, and the reason the Kings got a point.

3. The Kings’ one-man offense

Where would the Kings have been this week without Mike Richards? He missed eight games due to injury, then all he did, upon his return, was score a big goal in Thursday’s game against Anaheim and score a huge, game-tying, second-period power-play goal against the Sharks. Richards is tenacious, aggressive and creative with the puck. Why can’t more of the Kings follow his lead? Richards is a force on an otherwise struggling power play. Shots aren’t always going to go in, but the Kings need players such as Simon Gagne and Dustin Penner to start following Richards’ lead, in terms of attitude.
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