Thursday, January 13, 2011
Kings: More breakdowns as St. Louis jumps ahead, 3-1
By Dan Arritt
After the 2nd period:
St. Louis Blues 3, Kings 1
The good: The Kings erased a 1-0 deficit 5 minutes 37 seconds into the second period. Roman Polak was in the penalty box for hooking birthday-boy Kyle Clifford and just as Polak stepped out of the gate Alec Martinez fired a shot at the St. Louis goal, which got a piece of Michal Handzus’ stick and was deflected past goalkeeper Jaroslav Halak. Handzus has goals in back-to-back games for the first time since last February and four points in the last three. The Kings limited the Blues to one shot on goal the first 11 minutes of the period and killed their only power play so far.
The bad: One of the reasons the Kings got off to such a great start this season was the play of goaltender Jonathan Quick. He was among the top three goalies in the league in wins, save percentage, goals-against average, you name it. But his play has really flattened out in the last month, the main reason why he wasn’t selected to the All-Star Game. The Blues’ second goal was a prime example of the struggles he has faced recently. Even worse, the go-ahead goal came against St. Louis’s fourth-line players, who have spent more time in the AHL than the NHL this season. Chris Porter took a seemingly weak shot at the goal and the puck hit Quick in the chest and caromed out front, where Ryan Reaves beat Trevor Lewis to the loose puck and poked it back in for a 2-1 lead. Drew Doughty, the other Los Angeles player who seemed a lock to make the All-Star Game coming into the season but was passed up, was burned on the second goal as Brad Boyes won the puck against the boards, skated around Doughty and passed to Alexander Steen, who beat Quick for his 15th goal of the season.
The in between: As was mentioned after the first period, there’s a lot of empty seats around Staples Center, but they still managed to muscle up some loud boos as the period wound down. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the Kings' locker room right now. What does coach Terry Murray have to say to get this team to play with some fire, even desperation? Dodgers manager Don Mattingly dropped the ceremonial first puck, maybe he can provide some advice.