Manor Rapid Review: Kings Rolled By Sabres In First Game Of Road Trip

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Tuesday night’s matchup against the Sabres saw the Kings not show up from start to finish, something that has not happened very many times this season.

Previous losses this year for LA – especially on their recent skid before the All-Star break – stemmed from either an inability to hold leads or a sequence of costly, individual mistakes. This time around, they painted a different story, never really having any control of the game. Right from puck drop in Buffalo, coach Jim Hiller saw his team scrambling.

They couldn’t exit their zone cleanly and the Sabres quickly took advantage.

#LetsGoBuffalo forward JJ Peterka is wearing out the Kings.

This is his third career game vs. the Kings and he's scored in all of them. That was his fourth goal against #GoKingsGo.

He had a three-point effort (2G, 1A) in LA at Crypto a few weeks ago.

— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) February 14, 2024


A goal from JJ Peterka (who now has three goals in the past three weeks against LA), an uncharacteristic turnover from Drew Doughty, and a late penalty leading to another Sabres goal sent the Kings into the first intermission down 3-0. This seemingly put the game out of reach after only 20 minutes. It only got uglier from there, with the Sabres going on to add four more goals, resulting in a final score of 7-0.

Kings forward Carl Grundström left the game early in the second period due to a lower-body injury and did not return.

Goaltender David Rittich started in net before giving way to Cam Talbot after saving only 12-of-17 shots faced over two periods. The latter didn’t do much better, allowing another two goals on seven shots in the third period.

Can’t Solve the Sabres: For whatever reason, Buffalo has proven to be a near-impossible matchup for LA in recent years. The Sabres have now scored 11 unanswered goals against the Kings going back to their last matchup. In addition, the Kings lost 6-0 in their lone trip to KeyBank Center last season, meaning the Sabres have outscored the Kings 18-3 in their last three matchups.

Quality > Quantity: While the Kings had a big advantage in shot attempts and shots on goal, the Sabres generated much more high-danger chances throughout the course of the game due to the Kings defensive breakdowns. As most coaches would suggest, shot quality over shot quantity is typically a recipe for success. Buffalo’s seven goals on 24 shots tonight shows how important it is to create grade-A looks, and LA has had trouble with this over the past two months.

Not Out of The Woods Yet: Since coming back from their break, the Kings have expressed more confidence and a higher level of positivity than they had in the month prior. While this sentiment from Hiller and the players is certainly encouraging, they will eventually need to translate this assertiveness into wins. Entering play, LA was only two points ahead of Nashville for a wild card spot in the Western Conference; and the Calgary Flames were only three points behind the Kings, as well.

A Look Ahead: Upcoming matchups against New Jersey, Boston, and Pittsburgh will all provide tough tests for LA. Moreover, the contest in Buffalo represented the Kings first in a stretch of 10 games in 17 days. Obviously, they will need to put together a solid record over this span to remain in the thick of this year’s postseason race. Their level of success over the next few weeks could also determine the direction GM Rob Blake takes heading into the NHL Trade Deadline on Mar. 8. On a positive note, forward Viktor Arvidsson is set to return. More on what that means for the Kings can be found in the article linked below.

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