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The Key Three: Feb. 18

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings

Three key aspects of the Kings' 1-0 loss to the Calgary Flames...

For all the talk -- and rightfully so -- about the Kings’ offensive struggles, don’t forget that the Calgary Flames didn’t exactly light the world on fire last night. They had two shots on goal in the second period, and their fans couldn’t have been happy with the way the game was going, heading into the third period. The difference? The Flames worked for one good scoring opportunity, and they finished. Tom Kostopoulos got a bit lucky when his pass took an odd bounce, but he did the work to chase down the puck, and then Michael Cammalleri scored on a skilled shot. The Flames buried their chance and the Kings didn’t.

If the first period was being scored on points, like boxing or MMA, it would have been very tight, but the second period was almost entirely in the Kings’ favor. They outshot the Flames 12-2 and had several quality scoring chances. But all of that led to -- everyone, all together now -- zero goals. That, on top of the Kings general inability to score goals, had to be deflating. The Kings did almost everything they could do, and still couldn’t score. They let the Flames hang in the game, after two particularly ineffective power plays, and sure enough, the Flames scored on the first shot on goal of the third period, for the winning goal.

The score was the same, but the Kings’ effort against the Flames had a much different feel than their effort against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday. The Kings still had too much shots blocked (17) and too many shots miss the net (17), but they were around the net more often and, several times, had excellent scoring chances denied by Miikka Kiprusoff. But this is exactly the problem. No points are awarded for quality chances. They’re nice for coaches to talk about, in an attempt to boost players’ confidence, but there seems to be a general lack of confidence, among the Kings, in their ability to finish offensive chances.

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