Have you ever seen that movie? If not, look it up and read a bit about it, and this title should make sense to you.
Essentially, whenever I watch a Kings game right now, I feel like I’m watching that movie. Don’t score, play dumb hockey, waste golden opportunities, lose, and that just repeats itself. Tonight marks the EIGHTH straight game that the Kings have failed to score more than two goals. Tonight, they couldn’t even muster two, and the Kings have now lost four straight games, not recording a point in any of them.
It’s a broken record at this point. I can’t really think of one player on this team who is playing well right now. Dustin Penner’s still playing alright. Slava Voynov’s still playing alright. Mike Richards was playing well before he got hurt. They’re still playing alright defensively, and perhaps some of the players whose job is to play defense rather than provide offense, such as Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell (although he just returned tonight), are playing alright. The goaltenders are playing alright, I guess. Jonathan Bernier looked good tonight, although Jonathan Quick has looked shaky lately. By the way, this was the third straight game that Bernier has only given up two goals. The fact that he’s only 1-2-0 over that span is, quite frankly, a joke, as the Kings’ league-worst offense continues to plummet.
I know Mike Richards is out, by the way. Nor do I care. Ok, I care. But it’s not an excuse. Yes, he’s a big loss, but it’s not like they were playing so great with him, anyways. This team should still be much better than they are right now, even without Richards. Last year when Anze Kopitar got hurt, other players stepped up. No one is stepping up, and the fact that they still have Kopitar should make an injury to Richards that much easier to swallow. When Kopitar got hurt last year, there was no Mike Richards who was at least still there.
But, other players stepped up. But right now? We’re into mid-December now, and Dustin Brown has five goals. Justin Williams has four goals. Drew Doughty and Jarret Stoll have two goals. Simon Gagne has seven goals, but has not scored in the last 10 games. Dustin Penner has only two goals, although he’s finally starting to play well. Anze Kopitar has zero goals and three assists in his last seven games. Jack Johnson has one goal and two assists in his last 11 games. Anyone else providing secondary scoring? Nope, and the result is the Kings being the lowest-scoring, and probably the most underacheiving team in the NHL.
Coming into this season, people were hyping the Kings up to be a Stanley Cup contender. Some went as far as to say that this might be the most talented Kings roster ever. And how could you blame them? They have six players with at least one season of 30 or more goals under their belt. They appeared to have a lot of depth. They have some great defensemen. They spent almost to the salary cap and made some major additions to the roster, and this certainly wasn’t the result they were expecting. And no, it’s not that early anymore, either. Tonight was game 29 and the half-season mark is rapidly approaching. The Kings have won 13 of their 29 games this season, and eight of their last 22. In my opinion, it’s time to start getting worried.
Either this team isn’t as good as it was thought to be and Dean Lombardi needs to make personnel changes, or, if he believes in the players on this team, he needs to make a coaching change. This team needs a change, that much is evident. And no, waiving Ethan Moreau does not count as that change.
So now, the Kings head on a four-game road trip. They will head into Boston on Tuesday, a game that they have no chance of winning the way things are right now. Then they head to Columbus on Thursday, a game they absolutely must win. They’ll then head to Detroit on Saturday, also a game that they have no chance at winning the way things are right now, and then finally, they’ll head to Toronto next Monday, a team they also probably won’t beat if this keeps up. Really, they won’t beat many teams like this right now, and that’s being kind. You don’t win many hockey games scoring two goals or less.
In my opinion, this road trip is a make-or-break for the Kings. If they can’t win at least two of those games, my gut tells me that Terry Murray is going to be fired. Dean Lombardi can’t let this go on much longer. Will the Kings follow up a disastrous home stretch with a season-saving road trip like they did last year, on in this case, perhaps a job-saving road trip for their head coach? Maybe, but it’s hard to see that happening right now.
It really is bad how, when this team is down only a single goal, it doesn’t feel like they can come back. This team hasn’t had a lead in their last four games, the last time they led a game was in their last win, 2-1 over the Panthers on December 1st. This just isn’t good enough, not by a long shot, and it can’t be allowed to continue.
Anyways, the Kings will hope for a miracle in Boston on Tuesday. Before we get set for that, let’s recap this loss to the Stars…
1st period: The Kings ran into ridiculous penalty trouble in the first period. No, they weren’t all great calls (the Westgarth hooking penalty was a joke), but they still have to be smarter. On their third power-play, the Stars capitalized. From the right boards, Michael Ryder got around Jack Johnson, threw it on goal, and it went in off the skate of Jamie Benn. Video review upheld the goal, Benn’s seventh of the season, at the 13:35 mark. Trevor Daley also got an assist. The Stars were 1-for-3 on the power-play in the first, while the Kings were 0-for-1 on a power-play that got cut short by a Justin Williams high-sticking penalty. The Kings’ fourth minor penalty of the period, and Williams’ second, who did not have a good game at all. Steve Ott and Willie Mitchell fought midway through the period after Ott took a cheapshot at Mitchell, but it was more of a wrestling match near the Kings bench with Kyle Clifford talking smack to Ott during the fight. Naturally, the Kings outshot the Stars, 8-7.
2nd period: The Kings took three more penalties during the second period, and while they were short-handed during one of them, Brad Richardson tied it up with his first goal of the year. Good for him. He works so hard, he’s just been so snake-bitten. Finally back in the lineup, he made the most of it. Anze Kopitar stripped the puck from Michael Ryder at the Kings blue line, and Richardson and Kopitar were off to the races on a 2-on-0. Richardson kept from the right and shot it by Bachman at the 13:58 mark. Kopitar did get an assist on the play, but of course, what do the Kings do best? Give up goals shortly after scoring them. Just 2:46 later, at the 16:44 mark, Trevor Daley got the puck at the left circle and took a shot that hit the post, then Bernier’s leg, then went in, for Daley’s second of the season. Tomas Vincour and Tom Wandell got the assists. The Stars were 0-for-3 on the power-play, while the Kings were 0-for-1 with a short-handed goal. Los Angeles outshot Dallas 10-9 in the frame.
3rd period: The Kings pulled the goalie late, but couldn’t score. Drew Doughty and Jamie Benn got roughing minors after the final horn sounded as some rough stuff ensued. The Kings went 0-for-1 on the power-play, and 0-for-3 on the night. The Stars went 0-for-1 in the frame, and 1-for-7 on the night. Hard to win many games when you can’t stay out of the box, Kings. Especially when they’re needless, stupid offensive-zone penalties. Despite trailing, LA got outshot 12-9 by Dallas in the third period, and 28-27 on the night. The Kings really did not generate anything positive in the third period. Or the game, for that matter. This was the second straight game that the Kings did not have an answer for goalie making his first NHL start. I just can’t wait until this team has to deal with either Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask on Tuesday, can you?
It’s certainly not a fun time to be a Kings fan right now. We can only hope things get better. Stay tuned for a game preview for the game with the Boston Bruins on Tuesday coming sometime before the puck drops at the TD Garden at 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT.
NOTE: On a happier note, there was a wonderful pre-game ceremony for Bernie Nicholls. Truly a great guy and a great King, it was great to see him honoured for his time with the Kings. Unfortunately, the Kings couldn’t make it a great night for him.