Let’s dive right in…
The Kings have points in their last 7 games with a record of 5-0-2. They have points in every game of their current road trip, going 2-0-2, with 6 games ahead on the road.
The Kings lost in overtime last night to the Penguins who were without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, and Matt Cooke. Severely depleted would be an understatement. The Kings have to be able to take advantage of opportunities like the one they had last night and dominate a weaker opponent. If the Kings played that Penguins team 10 times, they may only lose once, but the truth is they only played them once, and they lost.
The Kings just can’t score goals. They don’t have those guys that step up in big, one-goal games like last night’s. The Kings All-Star Center Anze Kopitar is on course for 24 goals, his lowest total ever since entering the league. The Kings are 20th in the league in goals-for. Their only saving grace is the fact that they’re 5th in goals-against. However, if they don’t widen that margin, they’ll be on the wrong side of the playoffs.
1. Does Quick continue to carry this team and (if they make the playoffs) become burnt out yet again? Or will Bernier step up and bear some of the load? Or will the offense give the net-minders some relief?
2. Will the star players emerge? Jack Johnson and Justin Williams are two players that have really stepped forward this season. However, Kopitar and Doughty have taken a step back. This is the time of year where elite players separate themselves from the rest of the pack by coming up with big plays, big performances, and big goals. Will the Kings stars step up?
3. The question that most Kings fans want to know about; what will Lombardi do? Lombardi has done a good job getting players for basically nothing, such as Sturm and Modin. However, if Lombardi wants to land the bonafide sniper the Kings need, he’ll have to give something up. For a while now it’s seemed like the Kings have been waiting for the time when it’s appropriate to give up assets to land a real gamer. Up until now, the importance was on rebuilding, stockpiling picks and prospects, loading up the cupboards.
Well let’s look at the cupboards. Brayden Schenn, Andrei Loktionov, Oscar Moller, Tyler Toffoli, Jordan Weal, and Linden Vey have all made marks for themselves in varying degrees. Thomas Hickey, Jake Muzzin, Vyacheslav Voynov, Colten Teubert, and Derek Forbort are all top defensive prospects as well. Quick and Bernier are obviously the Kings future in net, so does one of them move, or can the Kings move Martin Jones? That’s a bevy of depth that could fetch a serious return.
But don’t expect to get a proven scorer without giving up a roster player.
The Kings have 6 games left on this extended road trip, including tilts against Washington and Philly. They’ll need to really bring their A-game against every opponent, especially those two.
The trade deadline is the 28th, when the Kings will face Detroit at Staples Center. Will help arrive sooner?
The Kings have 3 back-to-backs this month, 2 of which are on this road trip. Will they continue to ride Quick, or will Bernier see some starts?
The Kings face-off against Washington on Saturday at 9:30am 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