Maybe I’m slightly biased, but last night’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings had to be one of the most exciting games of the week, regardless of the disappointing outcome (if you’re a Kings fan). It was neck and neck almost the entire game and both teams played a great 65 minutes. The Penguins, who are still without a concussed Sidney Crosby, are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and have a record of 9-3-3. In the first period, the Kings had five penalties to kill, but only managed to successfully kill four of them as Steve Sullivan of the Penguins scored his first of the year with a great assist from defenseman Kris Letang. The Kings came back to take the lead by the third period with goals from Anze Kopitar and Simon Gagné, but with just under 3 minutes remaining in regulation, Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz tied it up to send the game to overtime and eventually a shootout. In the fourth round of the shootout it was Kunitz again who scored on Jonathan Quick to give his team the win.
Despite now losing 5 of their last 6 games, the Kings actually took a few steps forward last night. After being highly criticized for lack of offense, the top line of Kopitar, Gagné, and Williams came through for their team with a couple of outstanding plays, demonstrating what they are truly capable of. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to come out on top so it is apparent that there is still work that needs to be done. All four lines need to be consistent and if you ask Kings’ Captain Dustin Brown, he’ll tell you that work ethic is the most important factor in getting wins. In a recent interview after their 3-0 loss to the Oilers, Brown had this to say:
“It’s pretty simple. The first thing we’ve got to do is work. No matter what type of team you have, if you don’t work you’re not going to win. It’s real disappointing, but at the same time with our work ethic and our system, we were off-page. But I think the main thing for this team is work. When we work, we do pretty well for ourselves.”
It is possible that all of the hype about the Richards, Gagné, and Doughty signings led the team to believe that they wouldn’t have to work as hard to get wins. This is all speculation, of course, but if that is the case, then it’s time they realize it doesn’t work that way. I’m sure work ethic was a big topic of conversation in the locker room prior to last night’s game and judging by the way the Kings played, I’d say the message was understood. Let’s just hope it is something that continues. They ended up getting a point against one of the toughest teams in the league, so I think they are happy with baby steps…for now. The Kings play in San Jose on Monday night, but will then spend a great majority of November playing at home. This is a perfect opportunity for them to put in that extra work and turn around this losing streak. Click here to check out highlights from the game.
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