It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Kings rely heavily on goaltender Jonathan Quick.
But he can’t do it alone, and putting him in those situations might not turn out well. That’s certainly what happened in Sunday night’s 4-2 loss to the suddenly steaming-hot Chicago Blackhawks.
Shortly after seeing the Blackhawks vault out to a 4-0 lead that forced Quick’s early exit, it became clear that the Kings had little hope of coming back. Not because they’re horrible — no team advances to the conference finals without skill — but because they lacked contributions from everyone in the lineup.
The first two periods, or at least 38 minutes, belonged to the Blackhawks. They completely dominated every facet and showed exactly why many people had them favored to win the Western Conference, if not the Stanley Cup. Then the Kings started to gain control by laying numerous big hits, one of which saw Chicago netminder Corey Crawford challenge Kyle Clifford, who really wanted to fight captain Jonathan Toews.
Another worry for the Kings is health. Mike Richards missed this game, and though his replacement Tyler Toffoli fared well with a goal and an assist, there’s no substitute for experience. Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov also got up gimpy after collisions, but did return. Then again, how many guys play through injury without anyone knowing? Believe me when I say it’s too many to count.
Going forward, the Kings need more out of their leaders. Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar have been relatively quiet thus far, and something that must change if they plan to advance with the real possibility of becoming back-to-back champions.
It’s not just them, however. Quick has to play a lot better, and players not named Jeff Carter, Dustin Penner, Justin Williams and Toffoli need to step up at key moments.
While losing two games doesn’t automatically eliminate the Kings from Stanley Cup contention, their total lack of contributions from everyone in the lineup could. If it does, Los Angeles has no one to blame but themselves.