Back in black? Sort of.
The Kings were already in the red with losses in the first four games of a five-game home stand, but they righted the ship with a 4-0 win Saturday against the Florida Panthers.
Parts of their game are still missing, especially moving the puck out of their zone. But their forecheck was better, as was the overall effort as they hit Game 20 of the season.
Here’s what we learned:
Darcy Kuemper likes Staples Center. Three of his four wins with the Kings have come at home. His eighth career shutout Saturday was his first shutout since 2016 – against the Kings at Staples Center when he was with the Minnesota Wild.
“I guess you kind get a bit of a comfort [level] in certain buildings, where you’ve had some past good experiences that kind of get brought up every time you’re out there and give you good vibes,” Kuemper said. “All I did was settle down and play. I definitely enjoy playing here.”
Youth continues to be served. Jonny Brodzinski, come on down. He’s the fifth Kings player to get his first NHL goal this season. Youth has been a theme for the Kings this year as they’ve finally had room to bring up prospects. Brodzinski joined Kurtis MacDermid, Michael Amadio, Oscar Fantenberg and Alex Iafallo in collecting a first-goal memento. Their development happens an hour away in Ontario, and that’s where Brodzinski learned to be more assertive and play the new Kings’ style of quick movement, with and without the puck.
“[Ontario Reign coach] Mike Stothers [was] really pushing the issue with him about playing fast and doing the things that will make him a good player,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “There is a step that has to be taken for a young player to be able to be the same player here that he is there. We certainly saw that in his game tonight.”
The Kings have thrown their weight around. The Kings’ physicality has been prevalent the past two games. Dustin Brown decked Evgenii [cq] Dadonov in the second period for one of the Kings’ 28 hits for the game.
They had 42 hits the previous game against the Boston Bruins, notably a leveling by Christian Folin of Danton Heinen.
Before the season, Stevens said he doesn’t want to sacrifice toughness in transitioning to a more open offense. The past two games have shown that, regardless of the outcome, the Kings aren’t afraid to retain that as part of their DNA.