Thanks to the Sochi Games, February was an abbreviated month for the Los Angeles Kings (in addition to the other 29 teams). Also thanks to said Games, most of the Kings received a much-needed break having lost nine of their last 11 heading into the Olympics.
They started off the month losing two-straight, first to Philadelphia and then to Chicago. On February 6, their last game before the break, the Los Angeles Kings just wanted a win to give them a little something to look forward to when the schedule resumed. But a date with the Columbus Blue Jackets has since become more difficult than in seasons past. Slowly but surely, the Jackets have been pointed in the right direction. Plus, they already defeated the silver-and-black once this season. But the Kings weren’t content to limp into the Olympic break on a losing streak.
After allowing a first period goal to former King Jack Johnson, the Kings fought back as Jake Muzzin scored in the third and then in overtime, unlikely scorer Robyn Regehr ended the game with a slapshot from the point. The Kings entered the break on a high. Plus, even their loss in the previous to Chicago was a strong point. Despite falling short, the Kings did have a strong game against the defending champions, falling on the wrong end of a 5-3 final.
For most of the team, it was a few weeks of rest. For six of them, it meant representing their respective countries. Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown represented Team USA and despite their impressive start, finished the tournament without a medal. Quick, however, was outstanding doing whatever he could to put the US on the podium. Unfortunately, like his time in Los Angeles at times, he received little to no offensive support during the latter stages of the Olympiad. Slava Voynov represented Russia, finished the tournament without a medal but not before stirring up some controversy involving the aforementioned Quick. Anze Kopitar helped Slovenia make a run despite not being given the slightest chance of success before the tournament started. Then, there was Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter who both lead Team Canada to gold in Sochi. While neither scored in the gold-medal game, both were instrumental in their country’s success.
Unfortunately, with the vast success of Doughty and Carter in Russia, some Kings fans in North America were peeved, wondering why they couldn’t produce at a high rate on this side of the pond. Suffice to say, there were high expectations for the Canadians, in addition to the remaining Olympians, upon their return to La La Land.
Returning to the NHL schedule, the Kings were faced with an unenviable task of playing back-to-back road games, first in Denver and then in Calgary.
On Wednesday, the silver-and-black resumed their schedule at the Pepsi Center where they came back from a two-goal deficit to beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-4. En route to the win, both Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter led the charge that saw the Kings kick off their post-Sochi schedule on the right foot. Netminder Martin Jones wasn’t solid through the first 40 minutes but picked his game up in the third stopping all 11 shots to preserve the win. The Kings also allowed three power play goals but persevered to win anyway as they took advantage of the bounces that fell in their favour.
On Thursday in Calgary, Jonathan Quick got his first start since returning from representing his native United States. While the Flames are near the bottom of the West standings, they did beat Los Angeles in both meetings this season entering Thursday’s matchup.
In said matchup, Dustin Brown opened the scoring three minutes into the game and that was it until Dwight King made it 2-0 early in the third period.
There may not have been a ton of offense for the Kings but Jonathan Quick more than made up for that, stopping all 25 shots he faced to pick up his 29th-career shutout and his fourth of the season.
During the abbreviated month, Anze Kopitar led the way offensively scoring three goals (two of those on Wednesday in Denver) and adding three assists. Jeff Carter did his part as well scoring twice while adding three helpers. Even Tyler Toffoli, who struggled to close out 2013 and open 2014, had a goal and three assists in February. Others such as Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll and Dwight King chipped in to light the lamp while captain Dustin Brown is fresh off his first multi-point game since October. While that is just one game, Brown’s contributions to close out the month is a refreshing contrast to his struggles through the first few weeks of the calendar year.
It may only be two games but the Los Angeles Kings won both and, with the addition of the overtime win over Columbus a few weeks ago, have won three-straight games to end February – their longest winning streak of 2014 thus far.
As the calendar now turns to March, the Los Angeles Kings enter the final full month of the regular season. That coupled with next Wednesday’s trade deadline makes the next few days critical for the silver-and-black.
How busy the Kings will be on deadline day remains to be seen but fans have faith in the powers-that-be that they will make the right decisions as their team gets set for their playoff push.
They entered February on a low but ended it on a high. Here’s hoping (and believing) that the Los Angeles Kings will begin March the same way they ended February and then some.