Rare is the National Hockey League team that clicks on 25 per cent of its power plays, yet still finds ways to castigate itself. Ladies and gentlemen: your 2012 Los Angeles Kings.
L.A., which had the 17th best power play in the league during the regular season, was 2-for-8 in its Game 1 dismantling of the Vancouver Canucks.
Much of the talk heading into Game 2 Friday night will be about Vancouver's anemic effort with the man advantage, as the Canucks finished 0-for-5. But the Kings - who were tied with Vancouver after 40 minutes, despite having all of their power plays in those first two periods - said they must also get better if they have any chance of knocking off the President's Trophy winners.
"When you get a lot of power plays like that and you don't capitalize as much as you maybe should, that's one of those games they can pull out of the fire, so to speak," said Dustin Penner, who scored the game-winning goal at even strength with just over three minutes remaining in the third period.
His words were echoed by teammate Mike Richards.
"Our power play needs to be better," said Richards. "It's going to be a crucial part of this series. It's something that we have to work on."
Richards scored on a five-on-three 13:31 into the first period to tie the game at one, as he fired a quick wrister through the pads of Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo.
But the Kings had another 5-on-3 right after the Richards goal and couldn't score. The team had a five-minute power play during the second period, after a Byron Bitz boarding major penalty, but capitalized just once. That goal came off the stick of Willie Mitchell with 26 seconds remaining in the major.
Anze Kopitar, the man who led L.A. on the power play during the regular season, notching 26 points, had a quiet night with just one shot on goal. He picked up an assist on the team's first tally, though it was Richards who did all the work. Star defenceman Drew Doughty also assisted on that goal, his only point of the night.
If those two get going on the power play, the Canucks could be in serious trouble - as they were when these teams met in the playoffs two years ago. The Kings opened that series 9-for-13 on the man advantage, a whopping 69 per cent. But they went 1-for-13 in the rest of the series and were bounced by the Canucks in six games.
L.A. has been much maligned for its inability to score goals this season. The Kings had the second-fewest goals during the regular season, with 194. But the team appeared to turn it around late in the year, averaging more than three goals per game since March.