The Kings just got curb-stomped for the 2nd straight game in San Jose to open the 2014 playoffs. I honestly thought it couldn't get any worse than how Game 1 went when they got pummeled 6-3. But somehow they found a way.
And they scored the first 2!
This feels like an all-time low. (But hey, in the Stanley Cup Final year of 1992-93, the Kings surrendered 10 straight goals to the Lindros-less Flyers after taking a 2-0 lead on Dec. 29, so it's not like it was really the worst they've ever done. And they gave up 13 goals in a single game to the Oilers in the 1987 playoffs, so they've even done worse in the playoffs, and that one's an NHL record, folks!)
Is there hope?
Actually, I don't know, but let's examine what's happened and look for precedents.
The Kings have had their fair share of problems in the first two games of this series.
Jonathan Quick's positioning is way off. He is too far out of his crease so the Sharks are able to work pucks around him and either catch him moving or shoot into wide open nets.
Matt Greene is a bad hockey player. So is Kyle Clifford. They both turn the puck over a lot. On that second Sharks goal that tied the game tonight, Greene wasted an incredible effort by his teammates pressuring and cycling down low. When they got the puck to him at the point, rather than keep the play alive with a pass to an open player, he took a weak wrist shot that turned the play the other direction, allowing the Sharks to score (although, it might be worth noting that Quick should have stopped it). Clifford made a similarly bad play in his own zone on the Sharks' first goal. Neither of them should be on the ice again this spring. (There was a time when Greene was a serviceable 5th d-man, but that was two years ago. Today he is slow, makes mental mistakes almost every shift, and takes stupid penalties constantly.)
Mike Richards looks really slow. I don't know if he's hurt or what, but he doesn't look good in either end. At least when he wasn't scoring in his first two seasons in LA, you could count on him to be solid in his own zone, but even that's not the case anymore. I don't know if a buyout is in the cards this summer, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Dustin Brown is a selfish player. He never uses his teammates. Even after all these years he still tries to beat defensemen that he should know by now he doesn't have the skill to beat. He does not bring anything to the table anymore. The only times in his career he has shown skill worth his paycheck were under Crawford and in the first two rounds of the 2012 playoffs. I really hope this is the summer he gets moved. I believe his value is overestimated around the league and Lombardi could start to re-stock the farm by trading him.
Darryl Sutter. His system is a problem. Honestly, I don't know why it worked in 2012 - maybe just because it was new and the team got some bounces that justified it - but even though the Kings made it back to the Conference Final last year, they did it winning pretty much every game by one goal. He even said yesterday "We’re not going to, quite honest, beat San Jose trying to score four goals, that’s for sure."
Shouldn't teams always be trying to score 4? Or as many as is possible? Why would you just aim for 3? I know the Kings won the Cup with Sutter at the helm, but I still think his mindset is far too defense-oriented. But what do I know?
As far as hope, I look back to '93 when the Kings got embarrassed in Games 2 and 3 against the Flames, giving up 14 goals in the games combined and losing 9-4 and 5-2 to fall behind the series 2 games to 1. They stormed back to win 3 in a row before advancing to their first ever Stanley Cup Final. In '01 they dropped Games 1 and 2 against Detroit (coming within 2 games of setting another NHL futility record with their 13th and 14th consecutive playoff losses) and were trailing Game 4 3-0 entering the 3rd period after a lifeless performance through two. They stormed back to tie that game late and win it in overtime and took four straight from the Red Wings to advance out of the preliminary round. I'm not even going to mention last year because the first two games against the Blues were both ridiculously close affairs that could both have gone either way.
So it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility that the Kings could come back in this series. I still want to see how they perform on their home ice. Win Game 3 and anything's possible. I just hope I'm not writing about the history of teams coming back from down 0-3 Tuesday night.