by Nick Hamilton (@NickHamiltonLA)
(photo credit: NHL)
LOS ANGELES — The Kings failed to rally from behind, and lost their final regular season game to the Dallas Stars 4-2 on Saturday night at Staples Center.
“I thought we had a really good start to the hockey game,” Kings head coach John Stevens explained. “I thought we got pucks in deep, we really were looking to get pucks tonight. I really liked the start of the hockey game, what I didn’t like was we mismanaged the puck severely that gave up easy goals. You can’t blame our goalie on any of them. If you had two goalies you might not get a save there because we had full possession of the puck on three of those plays and the other one was a carbon copy of what we were aware of in terms of backside play with a guy going to the net, Jamie Benn. It was all things we were aware of, I think the biggest problem in the game tonight was that we had self-inflicted wounds that gave an opponent that played last night a lot of opportunities to take advantage, and now we have to play from behind.”
The Kings became the Wild Card and found out their first round playoff opponent are the Vegas Golden Knights. A team the Kings defeated twice on back-to-back nights just last month.
Alec Martinez’s two goals on Saturday night prevented Los Angeles from being shut out.
Los Angeles was disappointed to lose their last game of the season, yet turned the attention quickly to the post season and focusing on their opponents. Vegas defeated the Kings twice earlier in the season, granted those games were played without Jeff Carter. He’s one the best scorers in the league and when healthy makes his teammates Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli into scoring threats.
Carter has been the biggest threat against the Golden Knights scoring two goals against them. The largest threat the Golden Knights pose to the Kings could be their depth on all four line along with their speed. However inexperience could pose a problem for Vegas as most of the Kings players have not only playoff experience but Stanley Cup victories as well.
The Golden Knights have a talented and experienced goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury, as we’ve seen over the course of the season when the Kings apply pressure early and often, Fluery can be cut down to size and defeated. Jonathan Quick is primed for an extensive playoff run, he’s absolutely built for these moments.
Vegas lacks enough balance of strength in my estimation this season to make a deep playoff in spite of their outstanding inaugural regular season. Could the Golden Knights be dethroned in the first round by the Kings — absolutely. The Kings top six is a better bet than Vegas’ top six. Plus with a strong Carter in the mix for the Kings, could just be the X-factor Los Angeles needs to move on to the second round.
OFF THE ICE:
Jonathan Quick and the Kings clinched their second Jennings trophy on Saturday night. Quick and the Kings first won the award in the 2013-14 season