Overall, the Kings got better as their season opener went along. The found their legs and pace and played the way they needed to against the San Jose Sharks.
They got one point from a 3-2 overtime loss Friday at Staples Center and can look back at an 0-for-5 power play and a lackluster first period that was probably expected from one of the last NHL teams to open their season.
They have no excuses going forward, only some positives and negatives to reflect on. Here’s what we learned:
Austin Wagner is exactly what they need. The redheaded rookie winger is quickly turning heads, literally, with his remarkable speed. He got three break-ins on goal in his NHL debut, in less than 10 minutes of playing time.
“He’s a speedster out there,” Anze Kopitar said. “There will be no shortage of breakaways whatsoever.”
Wagner said beforehand he felt some pressure leading up to the game. He went through player introductions, and his parents, Kevin and Linda, were in attendance. But the nerves wore off shortly after puck drop.
“I just started playing my game and having fun again and not worrying about anything,” Wagner said. “Just carry the positives into Sunday.”
Television replays showed his parents reacting to one of his missed breakaways.
“It’s been a while since my parents have seen me play,” Wagner said. “I’m sure they’re very proud.”
Ilya Kovalchuk was out of place. The Kings abandoned the four-forward power play setup they previously used with Kovalchuk at the left point and had defenseman Jake Muzzin back with Drew Doughty.
Kovalchuk was still on the first unit. But he was in front of the net on the Kings’ first power play, of all places, and never really got positioned for his patented one-timer from the left side, where Kovalchuk built his career much like Alex Ovechkin.
The Kings went 0-for-5 on the man advantage and it was glaring. Kovalchuk expressed his frustration at getting the power play set up.
“Sometimes we can’t get in the zone,” Kovalchuk said. “It’s unacceptable.”
It took time, but Jonathan Quick became Jonathan Quick. It wasn’t a great look for Quick when he got beat short side by Evander Kane. But Quick settled down and did what he always does: Keep the Kings in the game.