LA Kings stay calm after opening defensive debacle
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Jonathan Quick realizes that even the NHL’s best defensive team is powerless against a few bad bounces of the puck.
The Los Angeles Kings and their star goalie calmly went back to work at home Friday after they were blitzed 6-3 by the San Jose Sharks in their playoff opener.
That doesn’t mean the defense-oriented Kings aren’t a bit embarrassed after allowing six goals in a game for the first time all season long.
“We knew they were going to come out hard at us, and we didn’t do a very good job weathering the storm,” Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said.
After a brief practice at the Kings’ training complex, Quick gave credit to the Sharks for their scoring bonanza. He also made it clear San Jose got a few lucky breaks, particularly while scoring twice late in the first period.
“They created some chances,” said Quick, who has won 25 playoff games and the Conn Smythe Trophy in the last two years. “They got the bounces, and they get the two at the end of the first where both guys are trying to shoot the puck and they fan on it and it’s an open net for them. I am a believer that you make your own luck, so obviously they made their own luck there.”
With the imposing Quick playing behind a full roster of skaters dedicated to defense, the Kings won their first Jennings Trophy last week for allowing just 174 goals, the NHL’s fewest.
Quick gets the trophy, but team defense is responsible for it — and that defense seemingly made a normal week’s worth of mistakes in the first two periods of Game 1.
Whether it was Robyn Regehr getting turned around by a fanned shot or Marian Gaborik failing to backcheck hard enough, Los Angeles was disorganized and sloppy all night. The Kings fell behind by five goals, giving up two in the final minute of the first period and two more bad goals in the second, before they pulled Quick.
“We came to work,” Quick said. “So you have a bad day. Tomorrow, you’re going to go in and do your job, right? So that’s what we did. We came in and we did our job.”
With two days off between games at the Shark Tank, the Kings have returned to El Segundo for two practices. Coach Darryl Sutter said the Kings will “start over” this weekend.
Sutter shared his goalie’s belief that the Sharks made the most of several surprising chances, declining to single out any player for defensive criticism.
“They scored a bad goal early, and we made a bad line change, and two of our veterans turned pucks over in the neutral zone on the same play, and it’s 3-0,” Sutter said. “I think that when you’re down by three goals in a playoff game, you’ve got to stretch it out and go for it a little bit, so that’s not normal.”
Quick isn’t used to watching big games from the bench after winning the Stanley Cup, playing in the Olympic medal rounds in Sochi and reaching two Western Conference finals in the past two years alone. But he was proud while observing the Kings’ three-goal effort in the third period, building a base for Game 2 on Sunday.
“It’s seven games long,” Quick said. “No matter what the score is, you’re still trying to play your best and trying to get a piece of the other guy. We’re on them a little bit for the next game.”