As Todd McClellan said after the game, last night’s game against the Florida Panthers carried a little bit of everything. In and out of the ice.
On the ice, we saw the Kings tie the match twice after being behind, then concede the lead twice after taking the lead, before finally winning it just over three minutes ago to play on the platform. We’ve seen what might be called “bizarre” from Matthew Tkachuk, with the Kings responding extensively to defending the goalkeeper in the dying stages, with the match decided after a scramble in front of, inside the tuck and even somehow behind it. Tkachuk has a hearing with NHL Player Safety today after his wand found its way inside a Jonathan Quick face mask.
We also saw a critical call in favor of the Kings in the late second period, a sequence that changed the game in favor of the hosts. The Panthers had a force play objective negated by another interaction between Quick and Tkachuk, where an accidental contact was made between Tkachuk’s elbow and Jonathan Quick’s mask, which occurs outside of the tuck and thus depends on the official’s interpretation of the rule. As stated in the book, the plea came to see if the attacking player had “made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact” or not.
The design on the ice was, at first, emphatic, that he didn’t. Florida challenged the play and was unsuccessful after a lengthy review, nullifying the rest of the power play that might not have happened in the first place with a soft comment call on Rasmus Kopari. After a 4-on-4 period, a series of excellent passes led to the goal being scored. You started with a superb pass from Jonathan Quick and worked your way up the wall to head off and preparing to take a big hit from Trevor Moore. This prompted Anzi Kopetar to score a swing goal in the space of one minute for Victor Arvidson to play in the second half. It’s, as they say, 3-2 (in 40 minutes), and the Kings were on the right side of that score last night.
Off the ice, Kings has made a clever “Botched” collaboration – a collaboration you’ll likely all be willing to no longer hear about – with the unveiling of a new character, Billy the Lion. Not to mention, Thousand Oaks Native Trevor Moore helped ignite McFlurry’s first minute of the season, a moment he remembered being on the other side of a fan years prior. All on the same night that the Kings skated for another home ice win over a team expected to compete for an Eastern Conference spot in the Stanley Cup Final at the end of the season.
The last three on-ice victories came at home over Florida, Toronto and Tampa Bay. These three teams, from a betting perspective, entered the season with the best odds for teams in the Eastern Conference to win a championship. None of the three teams entered Los Angeles at their best, with Tampa Bay winning 3 of 6, Toronto 4 of 8 and Florida with 4 of 9 in their games against the Kings. Each team fell in a game less after defeats at the Crypto.com Arena, where the Kings have won three of their last four games after disappointing defeats against Vegas and Seattle to start the season.
All of those games fell within 14 in 26 aggressive season openers.
No other NHL team played such an active schedule in the first month of the season. The Kings are tied with San Jose for the top of the league in the games played, but the Sharks opened a week before the rest of the league took part in the World Series against Nashville, with a pair of games in Europe to start the season. St. Louis, who were defeated by the Kings this week, have already played five games behind the Kings and we haven’t even started a month into the season. While things like the schedule are out of everyone’s control, this resulted in a nearly month-long run with a ton of games, with league-imposed rest days around and very little training time.
“I think it’s 14 games in 26 days, eight games on the way,” McClellan said. “Everything settles, but we didn’t have enough training time. There are reasons why teams don’t practice. One is four days mandatory for players, based on their CBA agreement, which they deserve, they need time off. Then, there’s the travel when we get home in It’s 3 a.m. It’s hard to put that group together.We talked to some of them and some of them came home and still can’t sleep.You wake up,your sleep pattern is broken and you jump in a car,it was cold that night,everyone is fully awake and you won’t sleep until 3:30.So I’m trying to explain why we haven’t trained much. Now, with that being said, the schedule is the schedule and we planned for that and try to get as better as we can without these skates. We’re adding a few things to the skates before the game when we’re skating.”
The Kings will finally be back in a bit of a routine for at least the next two weeks. This week, after today’s rest day, will see a return to the more regular routine of alternating practices and games, as everything comes here in Los Angeles. Even with the Kings starting next week, there should be at least two opportunities to train if the Kings were to choose to take advantage of that time. Things will fizzle out as we go through the season, but getting back into routine is something that should only benefit the team looking to find a systematic way.
Later today, insiders, we’ll take a look at the style of royalty, even if it’s not exactly what they want it to be. It was a team scoring more goals without a doubt and we’ll be giving some feedback, reasons and numbers that dig into why this happened and maybe what’s to come as the season stabilizes. Happy Sunday, Insiders!