If every loss is a dagger to the Kings’ season, this had some jagged edges.
They were fewer than 100 seconds from victory and a feel-good two points in their first home game in more than three weeks. Instead, they lost the lead and the game. And a bit of that recent resilient drive took a hit, too, in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center.
It was a cruel ending to Game No. 57, one that still leaves the Kings at the bottom of the Western Conference.
Here’s what we learned:
This is the future dynamic. The Kings are a mix of young prospects and proven veterans, and the results often reflect that. They show enough caginess and legs to rally or win, but they also show growing pains that are too much to overcome on some nights.
Against the Washington Capitals, Paul LaDue was beaten in the corner and got caught out of position on Jakub Vrana’s goal. Against Vancouver, Sean Walker’s pass up the boards was deflected and turned into Brock Boeser’s goal.
While their bounce-back ability is admirable, their breakdowns are not acceptable. This is their work-in-progress.
“I think we’ve just got to learn from this stuff,” Alec Martinez said.
The top-line tweak is interesting. Coach Willie Desjardins decided to switch out Dustin Brown for Tyler Toffoli at top-line right wing, an interesting move to break up the longstanding Brown-Anze Kopitar duo, and a bold decision considering the team liked the majority of a 3-2-1 trip with largely the same lines.
Kopitar set up Toffoli for a great chance that Jacob Markstrom turned aside on the first shift of the game. After seeing great success earlier in his career playing with Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson, and later with Milan Lucic, Toffoli is trying to get dialed in with Kopitar, a Selke Trophy winner who can free up time and space for a finisher for those around him.
The kids are all right from injuries. Walker took a puck to the face when Ben Hutton’s shot ramped off a stick. Desjardins hadn’t seen Walker but said he thinks the rookie defenseman is OK.
Wagner went to the dressing room and was in pain from a hit by Guillaume Brisebois in the corner but returned and said postgame that he was fine.