The Kings didn’t skate Tuesday. They had a charity gig in the afternoon, but are scheduled to return to their El Segundo rink for a workout Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s home game against goalie Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes. The Kings dropped a 3-2 decision to the Calgary Flames on Monday because they gave up three power-play goals, including what proved to be the winner from T.J. Brodie with 30 seconds remaining. Here are three lasting impressions on the Kings’ lackluster performance:
1. The Kings took six minor penalties, including Anze Kopitar’s holding infraction that led to Brodie’s game-winning goal for the Flames. That’s about three too many. Worst of all, they seemed to come in bunches. Drew Doughty went to the box for holding at 12:28 of the second period and Daniel Carcillo followed with a cross-checking penalty at 14:12 and Robyn Regehr followed with an interference penalty at 16:26. You can’t build or maintain momentum when you’re playing shorthanded. No, duh, right? Third-period penalties should be kept to situations in which they might prevent a goal. Kopitar’s was taken in the neutral zone with only 2:12 left in the game. The call might have been debatable, but it sure wasn’t the best move Kopitar has made in his career.
2. There’s something missing in the Kings’ lineup. Or more to the point, someone is missing. The Kings are a big strong team with some serious skill up front and on defense. What they’re missing is “The Piece.” Rob Scuderi took his talents back to Pittsburgh during the offseason, signing as a free agent. It’s been 10 games and it’s now clear the Kings miss his steady play on defense. He wasn’t fast. He wasn’t creative. He wasn’t going to win games with goals or assists. Scuderi was a sure thing on the blue line, though. The Kings miss him. It’s become obvious that “The Piece” is missing.
3. The Kings must improve their power play. They scored once with the man-advantage during Monday’s game, but they had plenty of other chances to strike and to break open a close game. The Flames were content to play it close and see what happened in the closing minutes. Their plan worked perfectly. The Kings could have taken a larger lead if they had converted on their power-play chances, including on one only 2:52 into the game. They missed a chance to break a young team’s will by scoring earlier than they did. The Kings often made teams pay for their mistakes the last two seasons. They need to keep doing that, especially on the power play, if they’re going to stay competitive in the West.