Jarome Iginla made a sound strategic decision when he left Colorado last week for a trip with the Avalanche. Knowing that the trade deadline would hit while he was on the road and that he was likely to be traded, the 39-year-old forward took more than a few days’ worth of clothes with him.
“Maybe a little bit bigger bag,” he said. “But I didn’t pack any shorts. So I have to figure that part out.”
Shorts are a must-have now for Iginla, who was traded to the goal-hungry Kings last Wednesday for a conditional 2018 draft pick. But he’s still seeking his first point with his new team after the Kings lost to the Vancouver Canucks, 4-3, Saturday at Staples Center, though he got his name on the score sheet by taking two penalties.
Goaltender Ben Bishop, acquired by the Kings from Tampa Bay last Sunday to share playing time with Jonathan Quick, was victimized by some fluke bounces and shoddy defensive plays by his teammates in allowing four goals in his first home start. His first game with the Kings was on overtime loss last Tuesday at Calgary.
Vancouver scored the first four goals — two on deflections off Kings players — but the Kings chipped away on a power-play goal by Anze Kopitar on a nasty wrist shot during a second-period power play, a power-play snipe by Trevor Lewis in the third period — assisted by the gifted Adrian Kempe — and a short-
handed goal by Alec Martinez (also assisted by Kempe) with 81 seconds left in the third period. However, they couldn’t pull even. They still hold the second West wild-card spot, but the St. Louis Blues are a point behind and have two games in hand.
“On the score sheet we made it close but the first two periods really were nowhere near close to our game and nowhere near close to be good enough,” Kopitar said. “It’s disappointing. We’re going to have to regroup for next week.”
“The first two periods there were odd-man rushes against more often than not, almost. That’s definitely not the way we want to play and the way we should play in order to win. We’ve got to take a look at that and definitely get better.”
Iginla had no shots on goal in his Kings debut and was credited with two Saturday as he again played alongside Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. He’s aware his shot totals have been declining and he’d like to reverse that trend. He averaged 3.52 shots on goal per game in the 2010-11 season and more than three shots over each of the next two seasons but fewer than two shots on goal in his 61 games with Colorado this season while playing on a grinding line. He has more middle names (Arthur Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis) than that.
“I’ve got a great opportunity here to play with Kopi and Gabby and I’d like to make the most of it and get my game back up and start getting shots again and be an offensive threat again and help them,” Iginla said. “Try to go in the corners and get pucks back for them, stuff like that, and be around the net. I’ve got to focus on building my game back up and my style back up and hopefully that will help them and be good for the team.”
The Kings were scheduled to be off Sunday and don’t play again until they play host to Nashville on Thursday in the third game of this seven-game homestand. In the interim, Iginla will return to Colorado to see his wife and three children and retrieve more clothes. Kopitar said he wished the schedule called for the Kings to play sooner, so they’d have less time to brood over this loss.
“It’s kind of like a sweet/sour thing,” he said. “Yeah, you’d like to get back at it tomorrow and correct what we didn’t do, but at the same time I think now we’ve got, what, 17 left? We’ll take these four days to prepare ourselves for the final stretch.”
Earlier in the day, Quick — renowned for playing a lot of games every season — said he’s fine with sharing the goaltending burden with Bishop. “Bish is an awesome teammate, great goalie. So it’s great to have him here with us,” Quick said. “When he’s playing we have an opportunity to win every night.”
Quick believes a lighter workload is better than none at all, which was the case after he was injured in the Kings’ season opener and missed 59 games.
“It’s something where you’ve got a No. 1 goalie every night. We know we’ve got a great team in here and we play the way we’re supposed to play, I think it should work out.”
It didn’t work out Saturday, and there’s only 17 games left to see how it all plays out.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen