I suppose you could also say the Kings have lost themselves. Any way you shake it, the Kings aren’t winning. Of the past 4 games, the Kings have won exactly zero and squeezed a meager 1 point out of 8 possible. Not only that, but the Kings have dropped 3 straight to non-playoff teams. The spoilers are playing spoiler in a big way for the Kings.
Scott Parse had a big 2 goal game, but your best players have to be your best players. The cream of the Kings crop aren’t living up to their billing. The Anze Kopitar that was league tops in scoring at the beginning of the season has all but evaporated. Once on pace for 100+ points, Kopitar should barely top his career high 77 at this pace. The top players have no semblance of chemistry, forcing Terry Murray to shuffle the lines to ridiculous degree (Jeff Halpern on the first line? The guy who had 0 points in 11 games for the Kings heading into the game? Really?).
Special teams were again the difference. The Kings lights-out penalty kill allowed 2 goals on 3 chances tonight. The Kings power play? They choked on two 5-on-3 power play chances, including a full 2 minutes of 5-on-3 time. To add injury to insult, Ryan Smyth got cut by a high stick right off the bat on the power play. The would-be 4 minute infraction was missed by the officials, but let’s be honest, the Kings wouldn’t have scored anyway.
The Kings have no time to wallow in their awfulness because they face off against another key opponent tomorrow, Nashville. The Preds own a 4 point lead on the Kings, albeit in 2 more games played. The Kings can’t afford to let any of the bottom 4 playoff teams take points from them. As it is, it’s looking like the Kings will be in a battle for 7th, instead of the battle for 4th they were in just a few weeks ago, prior to the Olympic break.
If you told me before this season that the Kings would be in good shape to make the playoffs, I would have been pleased. 1st or 8th, I would have taken it after so many years of sitting the post-season out. However, the Kings have raised expectations and shown that they can be a force to reckon with. They need to find that team again if they plan on contending in the playoffs and not just being a real contender’s warm-up round.
Beyond where the Kings finish in the standings, they need to finish the season with momentum and confidence, neither of which they are playing with right now. Maybe a change in net will give them a boost? Quick is certainly not the cause of the Kings woes, but perhaps Bernier can turn the tide. Jonathan Bernier won his only contest for the Kings this season, allowing just 1 goal on 30 shots in Dallas. He will be in goal for the Kings on Tuesday.
The puck drops in Nashville at 5pm PT.
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