EL SEGUNDO, CA — One day after coming from ahead to drop a 4-3 decision to the Calgary Flames on January 4 in Calgary, the Los Angeles Kings went over their performance, especially their poor second period, during meetings at their practice facility, the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.
“We weren’t very good in Calgary,” said head coach John Stevens. “That was one of our poorer games of the year, probably. I thought we got off to a good start, but we mismanaged the puck, didn’t match their level of urgency, and spent too much time in our zone. Even their third and fourth lines created a lot with their urgency.”
“We got off to a good start,” said left wing Tanner Pearson. “Anytime you go on the road, and you go up, 2-0, it’s good. But we let our foot off the gas pedal. They took advantage of that, and it cost us the game.”
“We stopped getting pucks in behind them and using our forecheck to [force] turnovers,” added Pearson. “We turned some over at the blue line. That’s the game they want. They pushed it back the other way, and capitalized on their chances.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty described the downward spiral that was his team’s second period at Calgary.
“In the beginning of the second period, we were trying to make plays,” he noted. “Maybe we turned the puck over too many times, but then we went into ‘panic central.’ We were chipping pucks out when we could’ve made a play to the center, or the defensemen could’ve made a play to the wing. But instead, we were shooting it off the glass. It just kind of got worse and worse as the period went on. The plays were still there to be made, but we weren’t making them.”
“We were very, very disappointed in our effort last night,” he added. “We played a good first period and had a chance to win that game. We completely blew it, and left our goalie [hung] out to dry.”
The sloppy, careless play, resulting in a plethora of turnovers, something that has reared its ugly head, at times, throughout this season, is a cause for concern.
“It’s definitely concerning,” said Doughty. “I don’t know what the exact reason is that we don’t do better in the second period. But it’s definitely a huge concern. You’ve got to play a full 60 minutes if you want to win hockey games in this league. You can take five minutes off and that team can score three in those five minutes, and then you’re screwed for the rest of the game. You’re chasing the game.”
“When they scored that first one, I was like, ‘we’re fine.’ We were still up, 2-1,” added Doughty. “When they scored that second one, I was like, ‘we’re still fine.’ Then, they were just giving it to us. They were getting breakaways, and they were getting good chances. That’s when you know things are kind of going downhill here.”
“That second period was tough. It was bad. It was one of the worst periods I’ve ever seen us play since I’ve been here. We came in after the second [period] and talked about it. We tried to go out there in the third to come back and win the game. But we were too late.”
Although the Flames should be given credit for taking it to the Kings, and in a big way, it was primarily the Kings’ own blunders and overall poor play, especially in that fateful second period, that determined the outcome.
“It was a little bit them,” Doughty observed. “They were moving the puck decently. But all of their chances were created off of [our] turnovers, either defensive zone turnovers, a neutral zone turnover—their forwards, when a turnover happens, they just take off. For us, we’re not prepared, because we think that we’re going to have the puck, but then, they’re going the other way. That’s how they got so many odd-man rushes against us. I think we had one of our worst odd-man rush tallies against us in that game. That’s why we lost.”
“When we control the puck and when we execute—when we’re playing our game—if we play a good checking game, if we make easy, simple plays, if we get in on the forecheck, and don’t make those turnovers, it’s hard for teams to beat us, because we have great goaltending and a great defensive structure,” Doughty added. “A lot of times, all we need is one goal to win hockey games.”
“We need to manage the puck better. That was the biggest reason why we lost last night.”
Despite the poor performance against the Flames, there is a silver lining here in that the Kings earned four out of a possible six points on their three-game road trip against Pacific Division rivals in Canada—it was a very good road trip, from that important perspective.
“I guess that’s the one positive way to look at it,” Doughty noted. “But I think you’re only as good as your last game. That was a big, division game against a team that we don’t like very much, and a team that doesn’t like us very much. They’re becoming a pretty big rival.”
“We wanted that game more than anything, and it was a big disappointment that we didn’t get it,” Doughty added. “So it’s good that we got four out of six, but we really should’ve gotten six out of six.”
“We need to be better,” said Stevens. “That game in New Jersey and last night are two games that stand out to me where I didn’t like the way we played. We could be a lot better.”
LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net
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