On most any other night, the Kings could have probably done more justice to Jack Campbell’s performance Tuesday.
But a New Year’s Day game — their second contest in consecutive nights — against a Vegas Golden Knights team rested and ready was not the ideal combination.
The Kings looked every bit like a team in the stretch of a condensed schedule at the exact halfway point of the season. That’s why Campbell’s career-high 46 saves went to waste in a 2-0 loss at T-Mobile Arena.
Here’s what we learned:
Campbell earned the respect of Marc-Andre Fleury
The Stanley Cup-winning Vegas goalie got a good view of Campbell from his end, considering he only faced 17 shots.
Fleury liked what he saw.
“He was doing well and stopping a lot of pucks, and afterwards the only thing I can do is tip my hat,” Fleury said. “He played very good and had some good ice time.”
Fleury recorded his NHL-leading 23rd win. Asked about staying sharp, the affable Fleury said, “Just get in the corner and stretch, move the arms, do a couple push-ups from time to time. When they play the songs, I sing them.”
The halfway point is here
Statistics show that the Kings would have to go 29-7-5 in the second half to match last season’s record, which was good enough for the first wild-card entry. In other words, that’s a three-out-of-four win pace the rest of the way. Although it’s not a big point differential to make up for a wild-card berth, it is a lot of teams to hurdle to get there.
Adrian Kempe remains a work in progress at faceoffs
The young forward has taken more responsibility since he was moved back to center, and this remains an area of concern.
Kempe lost eight of nine faceoffs Tuesday, one night after winning three of five against the Colorado Avalanche. It’s a small area of the game but it translates to possessions, and it’s why coach Willie Desjardins often sends Nate Thompson over the boards to take faceoffs to relieve other players.