What we learned from the Kings’ 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday:
1. There’s life in this team yet
Yes, there are nights the defense seems held together by hope, prayer and training tape, and Anze Kopitar’s scoring decline has been worrisome, his five-point performance Thursday aside. But when the Kings push themselves and each other and dig into the pride that helped make them champions twice in three seasons, they can still be formidable.
But it would help if Kopitar scores more often than twice in 15 games and Jeff Carter more than once on the 18th of every month, with his last two goals having been scored on Nov. 18 and Dec. 18.
2. They must improve their penalty killing
And fast. They allowed the Blues to score twice in three advantages on Thursday, leaving the Kings’ penalty killing at a woeful five for 12 over the last four games. But their power play came alive on Thursday and clicked three times, their most productive performance with the man advantage since they were three for six against Florida on Nov. 18.
“We got on the board with the power play, which is huge,” winger Marian Gaborik said after scoring twice on the power play Thursday. “It was just a 60-minute effort.”
Well, maybe a 42-minute effort, because the Kings were trailing, 3-0, when they scored their first goal. The look on Coach Darryl Sutter’s face when the Blues took that 3-0 lead rivaled any of the most sour he has displayed.
“I’m sure Darryl will want us to tighten up in the D-zone and the PK and go from there,” Kopitar said of the Kings’ defensive zone play and penalty-killing work.
3. Sutter hasn’t lost his verbal edge, though he remains a man of few words
Sutter didn’t talk to reporters after the morning skate, instead sending assistant coach Davis Payne to face the questions. After the game, Sutter did appear for the customary news conference but he turned on the sarcasm button full blast. It worked better than his team’s penalty killing.
Asked what he took from the win, Sutter said he thought it was “pretty good. A couple of you guys are burying us when we get down one goal. Just for us to come back was a mild miracle.”
Not really, as we all know. But it added a little spice to a postgame presser in December.
4. And what we didn’t learn
How badly defenseman Robyn Regehr is injured. He sustained what the Kings called an upper-body injury early in the second period and didn’t return. Losing him long-term could force General Manager Dean Lombardi to start seriously looking for a top-four defenseman.