Kings' penalty killing Wildly ineffective

Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll, right, shoots on Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, of Finland, during the third period of an NHL hockey game won by the Wild 3-2 in St. Paul, Minn. Monday, March 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Andy King)
Game 75: Wild 3, Kings 2

What more needs to be said that wasn't said here? Or here? Or here?

Ladies and gentlemen, the Kings are in a downward spiral, and they just need to snap out of it. Losing four in a row is just the start of their problems. The penalty kill is killing them, their power play isn't as strong as it was, and it seems the guys are gripping their sticks just a little bit playing 5-on-5.

It's a good thing to show "intensity" playing even strength, but you can't score on sheer will. You need to evolve, you need to keep changing it up. You need to change your perspective.

Coach Murray is doing everything he can to bolster the offense. There is nothing else he can do.

Dean Lombardi pulled the trigger to fill out the roster, making them a more complete team at the trading deadline. There is nothing else he can do.

This lies squarely on the team. Everyone needs to rise up and accept the challenge, not just a player here or there. A perfect example of this kind of self-sacrifice can be drawn from Greg Zanon from Minnesota. The Wild defenseman, who is playing on a busted ankle for the past two weeks, blocked six shots on the Kings' disappointing 2-man advantage late in the game. Dude played out of his mind.

At the end of the kill, Zanon was in the crease, entangled with Niklas Backstrom. He looked spent. He was flat on his back, and lay his head down, obviously gassed. He earned a rest, but was right back out there when his shift was up. Hell, he took a shot to the junk in the second period. He later told the Star-Tribune:
"Good thing I have kids already because that one hurt," he quipped.
Despite their current slide, the Kings are putting the effort out there. Dustin Brown's eye is a delightful shade of purple. Ryan Smyth's nose was broken last night, blood pouring out of it, causing him to not be on the ice during that 2-man advantage. Scott Parse lit the lamp twice after two months. Doughty continues to lead the Kings in on-ice time. Quick's GAA has been lower since the Olympic break than before. They have the intensity, they just aren't getting the bounces.

The Kings now head into the Lion's Den to take on the aptly-named Predators. Nashville rested their top goaltender Pekka Rinne for the matchup. By the way, they are also playing the second of back-to-back games. (They beat the Panthers last night, 3-2.) And who will be in goal for the Kings? None other than the phenom AHL goaltender Jonathan Bernier.

The one player that many fans are convinced is the Second Coming, Bernier has a lot to live up for. Could this be the spark that ignites the Kings' fire once more and starts their true push to the playoffs? Let's hope so. Because right now, their playoff "push" has been more of a pull, as in the Kings have allowed other teams to pull them into the playoffs, rather than providing their own inertia.

• AP: Havlat’s 3rd-period goal sends Wild past Kings 3-2
The Kings, who gave up four power-play goals in Saturday’s loss to Dallas, allowed Minnesota to go 2 for 3 with the man advantage, including the game-winner.
• LA Times: Kings find no power in their play, lose 3-2 to Minnesota
It would take a lot for the Kings to drop out of the top eight in the West. After 75 games, they are seventh with 90 points, a point ahead of Colorado. Ninth-place Calgary has 85 points and has played 76 games.
• LA Kings: Kings overrun by Wild
Having battled back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game early in the third period, the Kings were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead with a two-minute, 5-on-3 advantage. They didn’t score, and recorded only two shots on goal.
• NHL.com:  Wild hand Kings third straight loss
"On Havlat's goal we made a wrong decision with too many guys chasing the puck carrier as he entered the zone, and you got late people coming in for the drop pass," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "It wasn't a great play by Minnesota, it was more a breakdown on our part."
They said it
“Five-on-three, especially the second one, we have to capitalize. We had chances, but I don’t know if we had a shot on goal. A lot of blocked shots by them and a lot of missed shots by us. That’s sometimes how it goes. I think we had the right guys on the ice, I’m not doubting that, but we need to execute at this time of the year, in a game like tonight.” – Dustin Brown, on the two-minute 5-on-3.
“They did a great job with it. You’ve got to give those guys a lot of credit for their penalty kill, but on the other side of it, when you have a 5-on-3, that’s a critical moment in the game, and that’s when you have to show the composure to make plays, find people, get the right shooting opportunities and then put pucks to the net. That’s a choice, and obviously in that look we made some decisions that were not as good as what they could have been.” – Terry Murray, on the failed 5-on-3.
Jeff Halpern #22 of the Los Angeles Kings is called for goalkeeper interference after colliding with Niklas Backstrom #32 of the Minnesota Wild during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on March 29, 2010 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
Around the Kingdom

• The Royal Half: Sounding off
Los Angeles Kings fans got a great look at what's in store for them in the playoffs tonight in Minnesota, as Future Franchise Goalie, Jon Bernier, was recalled from the minors and suited up as Jon Quick's backup.. And by "what's in store in the playoffs"... of course I'm talking about the Manchester Monarchs quest for the Calder Cup... which will be the only playoffs Kings fans will be seeing this Spring.
• LA Kings News: Everything is fine unless winning is everything
Or is it the only thing? Kings dropped their 4th straight tonight against the Minnesota Wild, the second time they have done that all season.
• The Throne Room: Not so special teams
The fortunate thing is, once the Kings’ snap out of their special teams’ funk, they know they can beat anybody in the league. The question at this point, is, can they right the ship before playoff dreams slip away?
• HockeyBuzz's Matthew Barry: Terry Murray Must Be Fired and He Must Be Fired Now!
 How the frank do you NOT score 5 on 3 with TWO MINUTES??? Even WITH a Terry Murray called timeout!!!  If they’re not listening to Murray during a 5 on 3, are they really going to listen to ANYTHING he says?
From across the aisle, the Minnesota viewpoint

• Star-Tribune: Zanon puts his body in harm's way
But Zanon had the crowd gasping. He blocked six more shots to move into third in the NHL with 180. He's doing this bruised and battered. It takes all his might to even make it to the bench after some shifts.
• Hockey Wilderness: Minnesota Wild vs Los Angeles Kings: Game Re-cap
All in all, the Wild looked like a team desperately fighting to make the playoffs. The only adversary they absolutely cannot defeat in the math textbook explaining the odds of them making the post season. Trust me. It can't happen. Every member of the Wilderness community will win the lottery before the Wild make the playoffs this season.
Peeping the dailies

 

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