The Kings have a goaltending drawback.
Pheonix Copley saved their season by profitable 12 of 14 selections following his Dec. 1 promotion from the American Hockey League, placing up numbers that had been about common for an NHL goalie however appeared like treasured gems to the Kings, who had stayed afloat whereas Cal Petersen flailed his method to a demotion and Jonathan Fast confirmed indicators of age and chronic shakiness.
The whole group performed higher in entrance of Copley than it had performed in entrance of Fast, in all probability subconsciously, and their diligence decreased the hazard of the pictures Copley needed to face. Copley was by no means going to be the long-term reply in internet, however his teammates rallied across the profession minor-leaguer who got here out of nowhere to supplant two-time Stanley Cup champion Fast and gave them respectable goaltending once they most wanted it.
That completely satisfied bubble burst on Thursday. Copley gave up a flurry of sentimental objectives and was changed by Fast within the second interval of a 4-0 loss to the Dallas Stars within the Kings’ remaining residence recreation earlier than a six-game journey that begins Saturday in Nashville.
Copley yielded 4 objectives on 17 pictures, the final aim — a wraparound by former Junior King Jason Robertson of Arcadia scored at 7:27 of the second interval — being sufficient to influence coach Todd McLellan to yank him. Fast stopped all seven pictures he confronted. However that included solely two pictures within the third interval whereas Dallas, which had blown a three-goal lead at San Jose on Wednesday, made positive latest historical past wouldn’t repeat itself.
McLellan had thought of switching goalies after the Stars scored 3 times within the first interval, however he needed Copley to get extra ice time within the goalie’s first recreation in eight days, which additionally was the group’s first recreation after a four-day break. That fourth aim, celebrated exuberantly by Robertson’s prolonged household in a set excessive above the ice, was the breaking level for the Kings, who had been shut out for the third time this season and first time at Crypto.com Area. They received’t play at residence once more till Feb. 11 as a result of they need to vacate the sector for the Grammys after which have the NHL All-Star break and every week off.
They’re nonetheless third within the Pacific division and solely two factors behind chief Seattle. However they’re additionally just one level forward of Edmonton, which holds the primary West wild-card spot. And the Kings’ aim differential dropped to minus-seven, which might come into play to interrupt a tie within the standings and decide who makes the playoffs, or who leads to which playoff place.
“Do we have a goaltending problem?” McLellan stated, repeating a reporter’s query. “We have goaltending moments but we have [defense] moments and forward moments that don’t go our way.
“Pheonix obviously has played well for us lately. It wasn’t his best night. Maybe his poorest that he’s had with us.”
Copley, to his credit score, acknowledged his shortcomings. Rust from inactivity, he stated, wasn’t responsible. “Just a tough effort by me. I guess it is always a little tough but that’s no excuse,” he stated.
His teammates didn’t assist a lot, making an array of small errors that added up. “We self-inflicted our own misery early in the game and tried to find our game as the game wore on,” McLellan stated.
They misplaced battles. Didn’t win essential faceoffs. Didn’t get the puck in deep, which led to Tyler Seguin’s aim from above the precise circle at 6:54 of the primary interval. Seguin went prime shelf for an unassisted aim at 17:20, and Esa Lindell discovered the upper-left nook at 18:44 to silence the gang and provides the Stars a 3-0 lead.
“Maybe things weren’t clicking as well as they have been, but the effort was there,” Copley stated. “It was just the execution.”
The Kings didn’t constantly match the Stars’ depth. “It was just a bounce here and there that we needed. And we didn’t quite earn it tonight, too,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar stated. “We definitely have to play better in order to win games.”
In search of silver linings, McLellan stated he thought of Fast’s aid effort some comfort. “Quickie played well. He didn’t get a lot of action but he was in the game, he made some good puckhandling touches, and some stops right off the bat on the penalty kill,” McLellan stated. “If there’s a positive, he got some good minutes in and can feel good about himself.”
The Kings’ upcoming six-game, 12-day journey is oddly structured, with video games at Nashville, Chicago and Philadelphia within the first 4 days. They’ll have two days off earlier than taking part in back-to-back video games at Florida on Jan. 27 and at Tampa on Jan. 28, and so they’ll end at Carolina on Jan. 31. That may require some cautious scheduling of their goalies.
“Common sense is that we can’t run one guy there. We know that,” McLellan stated. “So, they’re both going to get to play in those situations. And then after that we’ll have more time. We get rest. We get practice. We’ll see where the team is at.”
They received’t go far in the event that they don’t resolve their goaltending drawback.