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The Key Three: Feb. 1

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets...

Well, nobody can accuse the Kings of not giving a 60-minute effort, or perhaps even a 60-minute, 0.5-second effort. Independent of whether the Blue Jackets got robbed -- they probably did -- give credit to Jack Johnson for having the poise to push the puck to Drew Doughty, and credit Doughty for an accurate shot under pressure that beat the clock. Well, maybe. Is the Doughty-Johnson power-play magic starting to click again? Doughty and Johnson, on the same power-play unit -- along with Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams -- were on the ice for two power-play goals. The Kings went 2-for-3 with the advantage.

Lest anyone start doing back flips over the Kings’ power play, stop and consider that Columbus’ penalty-kill unit came into the game ranked 29th in the NHL. So when the stoppable force met the movable object, the Kings’ power play went 2-for-3 against the Blue Jackets’ penalty kill. On the other hand, the Kings’ recent power-play efforts should not be entirely dismissed. They are now 9-for-32 on the power play in their last nine games, a very strong success rate of 28.1 percent. If the Kings could stay anywhere close to that, and maintain their penalty-kill success, they would go a long way toward securing a playoff spot.

The big word for the Kings under Darryl Sutter has been balance. At their best, the Kings can roll four lines and have each one be a threat, and also can get defensemen involved in the offense. Last night, the Kings got a goal from the first line (Justin Williams, on the power play), the second line (Dustin Penner) and a defenseman (Drew Doughty’s game-winning power-play goal). Also, the fourth line didn’t have a lot of offensive chances but was strong on the puck and the forecheck. On the third line, Trevor Lewis nearly buried a one-timer and Andrei Loktionov, early in the game, was aggressive in the offensive zone.
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