Through four games, the Kings have looked less than good. They have, in fact, looked BAD. This is the opposite of good. Or so studies claim. The Sharks however, have looked not bad, but actually good. For the most part at least. And when a team looks good while another looks bad, more often than not, well, you can figure it out.
This series hasn't featured a large swing like in 2014 (with games 1 and 2 compared to 3 and 4). This has been the Kings playing consistent hockey. Except it's been consistently CRAP. Sharks have been a little iffy at time, but they don't need to be given that the Kings can't seem to handle a pass, stick handle, or shoot on target.
Los Angeles meanwhile has been throwing out, in game four specifically, that they got hard done by the refs. There were some missed calls. You could say the same thing about every game so far in this series, going both ways really. But yes, the obvious missed trip in the final minutes of game four stings for a team who was trailing. However, it doesn't really mean shit seeing as the Kings likely would have continued to do this:
- Shoot wide
- Hold too long at the point and get shots blocked easily
- Have everyone stand around motionless
- Whiff while stick handling
- Take a moronic penalty of their own negating the man-advantage
This has been a running theme for the Kings for the most part when it comes to offense. Occasionally they will be able to discover they have legs, and run a cycle. They then either proceed to throw the puck out to the point for a blocked slap shot by Jake Muzzin or Drew Doughty, OR have Tyler Toffoli or Marian Gaborik miss wide.
It does seem like that every shot the Kings do manage to get on Martin Jones straight on seems to go in. Tanner Peason shot it right at him and it went between his legs. Luke Schenn(!) just heaves the puck on net and managed to have two of them go in, though one was credited to Trevor Lewis who actually has been skating this series unlike 90% of the roster.
Plus a missed call doesn't seem to matter with the plethora of penalties the Kings take in their own zone. You can pretty much apply items 3 through 5 listed above for their defensive strategy as well. You could probably could throw in "every defender is trying to play goalie" and "Rob Scuderi is playing over twenty minutes a game" too. Add in "lack of viable defenders" for good measure with Alec Martinez out.
Oddly enough, these sort of excuses fall directly on the Kings. Surprising right? Wow. Especially the Martinez/Scuderi one. Martinez alone probably doesn't shift this series, but hell, if it's him seeing 20+ minutes vs Scuderi you might have an argument. But he's dead (R.I.P. Alec), and this was a looming question the Kings had all year that never was brought up until now.
Who backs up the big guys?
The Kings had viable options for at least trying to alleviate issues if Jeff Carter or Anze Kopitar were banged up (which happened). But the defense never had that depth. And that issue falls squarely on Dean Lombardi for failing to really address that. Unless you count Rob Scuderi, in which case this was like plugging a chewed up piece of gum onto a stab wound and hoping for the best. So that excuse is, much like the rest, on them.
The refs are always sort of an easy scapegoat, and on a game-by-game basis you might be able to write one off now or then to officiating (i.e. the Dallas game at the end of the season). You can't really do that for a full series, especially when the team can't shoot, skate, or stick handle and keeps taking moronic penalties of their own. Like Toffoli punching a guy behind the play, or Milan Lucic whacking a dude right in the sack.
The Kings have looked on their last legs despite this series being close on the scoreboard. Each game has been decided by one goal, and on that end maybe the Kings can swing things back their way if they stop looking BAD and maybe try GOOD. The Sharks' top line has been a menace, but the rest of the lineup hasn't been nearly as productive. Maybe the Kings try loading up their top line and defensive pair to negate them a bit. L.A.'s forward depth is at least on par (if not better), though the defense meanwhile...
Gaborik/Kopitar/Carter (roll them a bunch)
King/Lecavalier/Brown (roll these three lines equally)
then pray for defense and deploy Doughty and Muzzin for forty minutes apiece.
Prediction: The Kings keep taking stupid penalties instead and get scored on every single penalty kill.