The Pittsburgh Penguins chased Cal Petersen out of the net with three goals in the first period on the way to a 6-1 victory over the LA Kings.
PIT : Jeff Petry (1) ASST : Danton Heinen (3)
PIT: Jeff Carter (2) ASST: Kasperi Kapanen (2), Jeff Petry (3)
PIT: Ryan Poehling (1)
LAK: Carl Grundstrom (1) ASST: Clarke (1), Doughty (2)
LAK : 1
PIT : 6
LAK : 1/6
1. LA Kings’ Special Teams continue to struggle
The LA Kings continue to struggle with their special teams and its effectiveness as the young season gets going. Though the team’s record will show you that they are playing .500 hockey (respectable, but not great), the special teams tell the story of a team truly struggling to find an early identity.
Los Angeles currently holds a Penalty Kill percentage of 75.9%. This is well under the threshold of acceptable in the NHL today and makes it that much more difficult for the Kings to become a team to be feared. They have allowed seven goals against on the penalty kill so far, which averages to a little more than one per game. If Los Angeles is going to let in near 82 goals on the penalty kill this year, they need to increase the powerplay effectiveness.
In speaking of that, this Kings team is plagued by the things they aren’t doing at the moment. In 32 Powerplay opportunities this season (a rough average of five per game) they have scored 5 goals but also conceded two. This differential is not sustainable and again shows a weakness that is starting to rise up in the Los Angeles Kings as goaltending is becoming an issue. This new look power play the Kings have looks great and should be more effective as time goes on. However, the current sample size isn’t one that really benefits the black and silver.
2. Clarke’s first apple
Brandt Clarke, the heralded second coming on the Los Angeles blue line, has hit the score sheet with an assist on Carl Grundstrom’s goal near the end the game.
Clarke made the team out of camp and has been playing slightly limited minutes so far for Los Angeles. As a rookie, he has now gotten his first point in only his fifth game, which will undoubtedly give him a little more confidence and give him a bit of swagger as he continues his career.
Clarke’s playing time has been a bit worrying, with his TOI falling from 15:17 against Seattle to just 10:45 against Detroit a few nights ago. This could be an indication that Brandt Clarke is not sticking around for the entire season in Los Angeles.
This is only an opinion, nothing has been set in stone, but with him only playing even strength on the bottom pairing, it may be that there is not a permanent place on the roster for Clarke. That time will come, he will have those top line minutes, but this season may not be the time for it. If Clarke is sent down, he will head back to Juniors, continue his stellar play with the Barrie Colts, and wait for next year.
3. What’s happening in the crease
Absolutely a question everyone should be asking themselves is what the heck is happening in the crease?
Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen have both posted sub .900 save percentages over the first six games of the season. Petersen is running so far with a 4.97 GAA over his starts and Quick comes in not much better holding a 3.87.
Today’s stat line was pretty bad with Petersen being chased from the net, giving up three goals on just nine shots in the first period. Once Quick took over, things got a little bit better, but eventually took a downturn. Quick himself gave up three goals on 25 shots against, one of them being a power play goal and one being a short handed goal.
After more than a decade of blue paint dominance, it’s hard to imagine that the LA Kings have a goalie problem and may not have a solution. With Quick’s contract coming up soon and Petersen signed for one more year at $5,000,000 per year against the salary cap, the Kings are going to need better form in the games to come. The Penguins didn’t always have quality shots and there could have been one or two more saves than there were to keep the teams tighter.
The LA Kings are back at it again on Saturday against the Washington Capitals. The puck drops at 7:00pm Eastern.
Featured image credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press