All day long the Los Angeles Kings had fired shots at Detroit Red Wings‘ goaltender Jimmy Howard. With the exception of a rebound by Anze Koitar in the first, Howard had spent the whole day rejecting the Kings shots. Then with under a minute left in the third period, trailing by one goal, Alec Martinez took advantage of a rebound of his own and slid one under Howard’s outstretched hand to tie the game.
There was 52 seconds left, the Kings had stolen the momentum and they had scored on the guy who had stoned them 45 out of the 47 times they had tested him. It was a great situation for the visiting Kings, and should have given them an opportunity to steal a win.
Instead, the Red Wings were able to find the net with just 4.5 seconds left in the game when Jonathan Ericksson took a desperation shot at the net and the puck trickled between the legs of Jonathan Quick. It was a heart-wrenching moment for the Kings and their faithful fans that had been watching the nationally televised game.
It is hard to say what the Kings could have done much different in Sunday’s contest. They put bodies on the Detroit players, they dominated the front of the net and they out-shot the Red Wings by 16 in Joe Lewis Arena. Quick had a save percentage of .903 and despite being stonewalled by Howard, they remained within a score of the Wings all day.
To do all of the little things right, and then to lose in such an unexpected way would be hard on any team, but may be even more difficult for a Kings team that has struggled since the season began. They are now in last place in the Pacific Division, and with just eight points, they are tied for the fewest points in the Western Conference.
If one thing could be pointed out from Sunday’s game, it would be the lack of confidence that seems to be infecting the defending NHL Champions. There seemed to be moments of hesitation that cost Los Angeles throughout the entire game. It looks as if somewhere in this lackluster start to the season, the Kings lost their swagger and the lack of confidence is costing them on the ice. Until they stop second guessing themselves and start trusting in their instincts, the season is going to continue to be a challenge for the reigning champs.