What we learned from the Kings’ 4-2 loss to the Stars
The train ride that is the 82-game regular season finally rolled to a stop and left the Kings off in Las Vegas.
They went into Saturday with the possibility of home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs but ended up as the first wild-card team after a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars at Staples Center.
The Kings will begin the first round against the Vegas Golden Knights, who claimed the Pacific Division title in their inaugural season. The fun begins next week, so let’s take a look back and a look ahead.
Here’s what we learned:
The starts are a concern
It’s been a season-long issue. The Kings finished with a minus-27 goal differential in the first period this season after they fell into a 4-0 deficit against Dallas.
The last two regular season games, against the Minnesota Wild and Stars, haven’t been ideal, and the Kings have said they don’t want to be chasing games from behind in the postseason.
Kings coach John Stevens pointed out that their opening few minutes were fine before they disintegrated into giveaways that fed Dallas and star winger Jamie Benn.
“I think the biggest problem of the game tonight is that we had self-inflicted wounds,” Stevens said.
Whatever matchup the Kings have is tough
Had they won Saturday, the Kings would have faced the Ducks in what would have been a bloodbath of an opening-round series.
Vegas is hardly a dropoff. A significant amount of the Golden Knights’ success is the strength of their third and fourth lines, and they play a tight-checking, playoff-style game under coach Gerard Gallant.
“We need our whole team,” Stevens said. “We can’t go in there with two lines and expect to win.”
The Kings lost the first two games against Vegas and won the second two, on a back-to-back set on Feb. 26-27, the last of which was one of their more complete games of the season.
“The last two games we played against them, back to back, we really showed how good we can play against them,” Adrian Kempe said. “[For me] it’s going to be really exciting to play in the playoffs for the first time, and I think a lot of guys on this team know what it takes to go all the way.”
At least the Kings didn’t sustain any more injuries
Stevens said he’s not aware of any more injury issues, and that would be a victory in itself.
The Kings are already without Derek Forbort, Jake Muzzin and Alex Iafallo. Forbort has been ruled out for the start of the playoffs while Muzzin and Iafallo are trying to work their way back from upper-body injuries.
The last thing the Kings need is injury to their Big Three of Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick, so they can breathe easy in that respect with Game 82 in the books.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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