Let’s not talk about the Kings last two losses. Please? Okay, I’ll briefly touch on them. The Kings dropped two in a row to hungry but beatable clubs. This is a Kings team that is supposed to be a contender. They need to play with the type of game to game consistency they showed during their 9 game win streak. Do I expect them to win every game? No. I expect them to bring their A-game on a consistent basis.
The Kings have 18 games remaining this season. Of those games I feel the Kings should definitely win 11. That would give the Kings 102 points on the season, which should be plenty for a solid slot in the playoffs.
As a team, it’s evident the Kings need to play their game and not get caught playing to another team’s advantage. The Kings are best when they are down low, cycling, controlling the board play.
But what do they Kings need from their individuals? Let’s take a look:
Dustin Brown – Brown wasn’t the obvious choice for captain when he was offered the ‘C’, but he has emerged as a strong leader for the team. On the ice, Brown doesn’t need to be an offensive dynamo but he does need to bring his physical game. The Dustin Brown in the Gold Medal game in the Olympics is the guy the Kings need. Off ice, Dustin needs to up the team’s motivation and drive as they head toward the playoffs. It would be easy for the Kings to revel in the great season they’ve had so far, exceeding expectations and breaking records. That can’t happen. The goal isn’t to exceed expectations, it’s to win a Stanley Cup, and Brown needs to convey that message.
Anze Kopitar – Simply put, Kopitar has to be the best player on the ice. If Kopitar can find that extra gear he started the season with, this team will be as tough as any down the stretch. In addition to putting points on the board, Kopi needs to start winning face-offs. If he’s constantly getting tossed from the circle, he’s not doing his job. You can’t win the game if you don’t have the puck.
Jonathan Quick – All season long Quick hasn’t been the lights-out goaltender that teams like Buffalo or Vancouver have. However, what I’ve said about Quick all season long is that he has the ability to make the big save when it counts. He may not post a shutout every game, nor will he win the Jennings Trophy, but he gives the team the chance to win every night. If this continues, the Kings will be in good shape.
Drew Doughty – So young, yet he’s the leader on defense. Doughty is the type of defenseman every team wants to have, but so few actually have that luxury. Doughty already plays with the poise of a veteran of ten seasons and as long as that continues the Kings are miles better than they were expected to be. However, as I said before, the expectations have already been exceeded and that is not the goal.
Jack Johnson – Jack doesn’t need to be the star anymore, that’s Doughty. Johnson needs to be Scottie Pippen. He doesn’t need to make it all happen himself, he just needs to be solid and smart. He has those skills in the bag, it’s just a matter of Johnson choosing the smart play over the high-risk/high-reward one.
Jeff Halpern, Fredrik Modin, Rob Scuderi, Justin Williams – These are the guys with their names on the Cup already. If they want it on that shiny trophy again they’ve got to teach the guys who have never made the playoffs how to do it. The Kings need to turn on playoff mode now and the tone set by these guys will resonate with the younger players.
The Kings currently sit at 5th place in the Western Conference, 3 points behind Phoenix but with 2 games at hand. Colorado is tied with the Kings with 80 points, but the Kings have one game at hand on the Avs.
Los Angeles returns to action on Monday, March 8th at 7:30 pm PT against Columbus (one of the 11 games the Kings should win in my opinion). Columbus has dropped 4 in a row, 2 in overtime and they will be hungry for a win.
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney