The Kings ran into a buzzsaw, or in this case, Smashville.
Trying to follow up one of their best games of the season would have been a tough act on its own, let alone against the Predators, who look like they have all the pieces to raise the Stanley Cup this season. The Kings lost 5-0 in a game that simply displayed one team with Cup hopes and the other trying to make the playoffs.
Here’s what we learned:
This was more about Nashville then the Kings. “Smashville,” the affectionate name for hockey in Nashville, had its amps on 11 for this one. The city known for music and a rabid atmosphere for its hockey team was additionally pumped up for its first game since Mike Fisher announced he was emerging from retirement.
The Predators fed off the energy and the Kings generated only trace plays and no prolonged attack. Kings coach John Stevens knew what his team was up against before the game when he was asked about Nashville’s defense.
“Best in the league in terms of shots generated, points generated,” Stevens said. “Not only do they defend well but they’re a huge part of their team in all three zones.”
The Kings were fully convinced Thursday.
It wouldn’t have mattered who was in goal. It was a curious decision to start Jonathan Quick. Backup Darcy Kuemper allowed one goal in the previous two games, including a shutout Tuesday, and the Kings could have further rested Quick from a lingering injury.
Quick also has an awful record against the Predators at 5-10-2 after Thursday.
Ultimately, the Kings could have put in Bernie Parent from 1974 and he wouldn’t have had much of a chance. Nashville scored two power play goals, one on a two-man advantage, and the Kings didn’t give Quick much support against the Predators’ attack.
For what it’s worth, Quick did look sharp early with saves on Kyle Turris and Craig Smith, and was the least of the Kings’ problems.
The defense took another hit. There was no immediate update on Alec Martinez. He played one shift in the third period and left with a lower-body injury. Martinez was seen walking around the dressing room afterward, and the move could have been precautionary.
The Kings just got back Derek Forbort from injury and really can’t afford any missed time from the top three of Martinez, Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin. The back end of their defense is serviceable but not against the likes of Nashville, which showed the value of a deep defense that can skate and move the puck well.