The Los Angeles Kings played 13 times in November. Their first and last games were disappointing as they came away from both without any points. The 11 games in between, however, were a different story as the silver-and-black failed to lose in regulation – the team’s longest point streak in nearly two years.
November proved to be a trying month for the Kings. While they did struggle to put the puck in the net, they had to deal with a few significant injuries. While they were missing the services of Jeff Carter, Jarret Stoll and Kyle Clifford for the majority of the month, the biggest loss the Kings suffered was in goal when Jonathan Quick went down with a pulled groin on the 12th in Buffalo. While some were skeptical going as far as longing for the since-traded Jonathan Bernier, I was calm. I had seen Ben Scrivens play in Toronto and knew the team would be in good hands while No. 32 was recuperating. I had no reason to worry as Scrivens was outstanding in relief. Entering December, the former Leaf netminder is 6-2-4 with a 1.52 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage to go along with three shutouts – two of which were posted since Quick’s injury. Also, despite ending the month on a low, Los Angeles’s defense was just as solid in November.
Despite Quick’s absence, the Kings are currently third-overall in goals-against with 2.07 per game. While Ben Scrivens deserves much of the credit for those numbers recently, the defensive unit of the silver-and-black certainly deserves their share of kudos as well jumping in to help Scrivens by clearing the puck out of harm’s way while giving their netminder a breather in the process. Whether it’s natural ability or their feeling to step it up since Quick’s injury, the Kings defense (for the most part at least) have been doing a stand-up job keeping their team in games. While Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin and Slava Voynovhave all helped the Kings out from an offensive standpoint lo these last four weeks, they’ve all been a big part in their team’s defensive success joining their textbook D-man Willie Mitchell who continues to block shots and eliminate traffic at a consistent pace.
While there may be as much to write home about offensively, Anze Kopitar has led the way on the scoreboard in November with six goals and six assists. With five goals and five helpers during this past month, Justin Williams is right behind while rookie Tyler Toffoli spent his first full month with the big club scoring four times and adding five assists. Since returning from a broken foot last week, Jeff Carter had points in as many games since his return while Mike Richards has had three goals and six helpers in November. Even Dwight King made some noise this past month with three tallies and four assists.
After opening the season with a respectable 9-5-0 record, the Kings did one better in November at 7-2-4. While their performance versus Calgary on the 30th was a disappointing way to end the month, two regulation losses being the bookends of a hard-fought unbeaten streak where the Kings showed resilience and solid defense to name just two qualities is by no means a bad way to spend a month.
Some improvements need to be made but overall, the Kings are in good shape – better shape than they were at the end of October. But it doesn’t get any easier as the Kings will have to spend most, if not all, of December without the services of Jonathan Quick. Then again, if the last few weeks were any indication, such a task isn’t as daunting as it seems.
Starting off hosting St. Louis on the 2nd and playing in Anaheim the following night, the Los Angeles Kings will certainly be put to the test right away in December. But if November was any indication, the Kings should wrap up the 2013 year on a positive note. They may not string together another long unbeaten streak but then again, they may. They’ve certainly proved they’re capable of it. Just look at how things went these last four weeks.