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The Key Three: Feb. 9

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings' 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers...

For the 22nd time in 55 games this season, the Kings played a 0-0 first period, but it wasn’t a bad one. They outshot the Panthers 11-5 in the first 20 minutes and had a handful of threatening scoring chances. A follow-up effort in the second period would have been tolerable. Instead, the Kings completely fell off the table, in almost every area of the game. They allowed two goals and recorded only three shots on goal, and the period actually looked worse than that sounds. Jonathan Quick was pulled to start the third period, and the message seemed clear. If the Kings weren’t going to play for Quick, why should he play?

The Panthers haven’t been a very good first-period team this season and, true to form, they looked a bit timid to start last night’s game. The Kings had two golden opportunities to take an early lead. Florida’s Tomas Kopecky was called for tripping Trevor Lewis at the 6:46 mark, and Stephen Weiss was called for hooking Matt Greene at the 10:32 mark. Against the Panthers’ penalty-kill unit, which entered the game ranked No. 24 in the NHL, the Kings recorded only three shots on goal in four minutes of power-play time. Even worse, they put little pressure on the Panthers, and were unable to carry over any momentum.


It’s not just that the Kings didn’t score. That much isn’t new. It’s that, too often, they were rarely even in position to score. The Florida Panthers aren’t exactly a defensive juggernaut -- they entered the night having allowed 2.8 goals per game -- but they seemed to frustrate the Kings with good neutral-zone spacing. Even when the Kings did get the puck into the offensive zone, too often they settled for point shots without traffic in front, and even a solid percentage of those didn’t get through. At the end of the second period, the Kings had attempted 31 shots. Thirteen were blocked and four were wide of the net.
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