What we learned from the Kings’ 6-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday:
All dynasties (except maybe the New England Patriots) must come to an end.
It’s not so long ago in human years that the Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks dominated the NHL. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, and the Kings prevailed in 2012 and 2014. The Blackhawks beat the then-defending-champion Kings to win the West in 2013, and the Kings returned the favor in 2014 on the way to winning the Cup. But in hockey years, with the NHL having veered so strongly toward youth and speed and neither team able to keep up, those triumphs might as well have happened a century ago. Both will miss the playoffs this season and deservedly so.
But in some one-on-one matchups on Saturday, such as Jonathan Quick’s three dialed-in saves on Patrick Kane during a first-period Chicago power play, it was like the olden days. “Any time you match up against these guys, they’ve got some real high-end talent,” winger Kyle Clifford said. “Get those teams together and it just makes for an exciting game.”
The Kings’ power play has awakened.
Dustin Brown and Sean Walker scored with a man advantage in the first period, which turned out to be the Kings’ only power plays in the game. Combined with a one-for-three performance against Dallas on Thursday, that left the Kings with three goals in their last five advantages. That’s not enough to move the needle much — they ranked 26th in the NHL through Saturday’s games with a 15.7% success rate — but it’s better than their recent performances. Before the last two games, they were 0 for 12 over five games and 1 for 120 over seven games.
“I think Marco Sturm has done a great job on it,” interim coach Willie Desjardins said of the assistant coach who was put in charge of the power play. “I think they spent time on it. They’ve worked at it. We made a few changes, a few adjustments. I think other games we had a few chances, but they just didn’t go.” On Saturday, they converted when Dustin Brown lifted a second-effort shot over the pad of goalie Corey Crawford and again on a long shot by defenseman Sean Walker, set up nicely by Adrian Kempe.
More is merrier.
The Kings’ six-goal production was a high mark for the season. “That’s good. It’s a good confidence boost for everybody,” Kings forward Adrian Kempe said. Even Quick chipped in as 10 players contributed at least one point. Quick’s stretch pass led to Brown’s first goal, and Crawford made a similar play to earn an assist on the goal by Brendan Perlini that cut the Kings’ 3-0 lead to 3-2 at 2:06 of the second period.
It was the sixth time since the 1993-94 season and the first in nearly seven years that both goalies had an assist in the same game. It was last done by Vancouver’s Cory Schneider and Columbus’ Steve Mason on March 17, 2012.