Yes, that is correct. We are now into December, and the Los Angeles Kings are the lowest-scoring team in the National Hockey League. A team with six players who have at least one season of 30 or more goals under their belt, a team with some great young offensive defensemen, is averaging a pathetic 2.26 goals per game.
This time, their offense managed only a pair of goals against not only one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL, but one of the worst teams, period, and Bobby Ryan’s second goal of the game came with less than a minute to go and gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead and the Kings weren’t able to even get a point out of this game. Yes, this team is missing Mike Richards, Willie Mitchell and Alec Martinez, but it’s not like they were scoring when they were healthy, and there’s still too much talent on this team for them to be struggling so much offensively.
So, here we are. It’s December. The Kings are 13-10-4. They have lost more games than they’ve won. The 20-game mark that Dean Lombardi says general managers use to evaluate what holes need to be filled on their team? Yeah, that passed. How about the 27-game mark? The Kings have a mediocre record. They are the worst offensive team in the NHL. Too often they make careless mental mistakes. They are seriously under-performing. With the moves Dean Lombardi made, he thought he had addressed the scoring woes. Nope. If anything, they’re somehow worse. The team is supposed to have the talent and personnel to contend, right? Yet they certainly aren’t a contender right now. So, it certainly leaves one to wonder when a coaching change may be considered. I’m not even going to get into why I don’t think Terry Murray is the greatest of coaches for this team (there were even more questionable decisions tonight, including putting Ethan Moreau, Colin Fraser and Trent Hunter on the ice with less than two minutes left in a tied game), but I have voiced in the past that I certainly am not the biggest fan of Murray, and unless Dean Lombardi has some big deal up his sleeve that he thinks will fix things, when does Murray take the fall? Lombardi already made big moves that were supposed to help the offense. It hasn’t work. It seems that no matter who is on this team, the Kings will still struggle to score. Is it all Murray’s fault that this is happening? No. But if there were personnel changes made that were supposed to fix the problems, that haven’t worked, is it not time to look at a coaching change? There is too much talent on this team to be this mediocre and to be this awful offensively.
On the bright side, Dustin Penner’s strong play continues. For a second consecutive game since coming back from injury, he was probably the best King on the ice. Also, Slava Voynov’s great play continued, and he had another goal. Seriously, he can not get sent down. He has twice as many goals as any other rookie defenseman. And Drew Doughty, for that matter. You can make a strong case that he’s this team’s best defenseman. On a team that’s not playing well and struggling so much offensively, you can’t send him down, can you? Dean Lombardi has to find a way to keep him up here. He makes the team better.
So, here are my questions to you guys. Why can’t this team score? Should Terry Murray be fired? If not, please, explain in the comment section, I’d really like to here why. Also, how much longer does this have to continue until Murray gets fired, and who would you like to see be the next head coach of the Kings?
Anyways, the Kings will once again try to right the ship on Thursday when they host the Minnesota Wild. Before we get set for that, let’s recap this loss in Anaheim…
1st period: Jonathan Quick has a history of being a poor puck handler, and that came back to bite him tonight. From behind the net, he threw it out in front right to Teemu Selanne who dished it off to Bobby Ryan in the slot who put it into the open net before Quick could get back in position at the 7:59 mark. It was Ryan’s eighth goal of the season. Then at the 17:37 mark, Ryan Getzlaf sent a pass from the left boards to Corey Perry who beat two Kings defenders to the net and put it by Quick to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead with his 12th goal of the season. Matt Beleskey also got an assist. The Kings outshot the Ducks 8-7 in a penalty-free opening frame.
2nd period: A bounce came off the boards to Andrei Loktionov right in front, but Jonas Hiller made a nice save to keep the Ducks’ lead at two. At the 14:29 mark, Drew Doughty took a tripping penalty. He had just before gotten away with cross checking on Corey Perry, so I guess he was just being fair and making sure he got the penalty after all. At the 19:44 mark, the Kings finally got on the board. Anze Kopitar came in and tried to stuff one in, but it went out to the right of Hiller, then Dustin Penner picked it up and made a cross-ice feed to Slava Voynov whose shot went off of the blocker of Hiller and into the net, for Voynov’s fourth goal of the season. The Ducks outshot the Kings 12-8 in the frame and went 0-for-1 on the power-play, while the Kings didn’t have one. Corey Perry got tangled up earlier in the period and seemed to fall awkwardly before taking a cross check in the back from Dustin Penner while he was down. Perry left the game briefly, but returned. Justin Williams also appeared hurt at one point, but stayed in the game.
3rd period: Cam Fowler tried to clear it off the boards, but it took a weird bounce right to Justin Williams. Williams left it for Jarret Stoll and went towards the net, and then Williams took a nice backhand pass from Stoll and put it by Hiller, for Williams’ fourth goal of the season, a goal that ended a 17-game goalless drought for Williams. Shortly after, Drew Doughty made a brilliant stretch pass from his own end to Jarret Stoll to give him a partial breakaway, but it was stopped by Hiller. Then the Kings got a late power-play with a chance to take the lead, failed, and all the momentum that the Kings had (they finally had a good third period, outshooting the Ducks 16-4 at one point), seemed to go the Ducks, and at the 19:11 mark, Anaheim got the winning goal. Bobby Ryan’s quick shot off of a faceoff to the left of Quick took a funny bounce (there seemed to be a lot of those tonight) and over Quick’s shoulder, for Ryan’s second goal of the game and ninth of the season. I wonder if he’s still getting traded… There would be no late-game magic for the Kings to counter that of the Ducks, as they failed to even record a point, falling 3-2 in regulation despite outshooting the Ducks 23-8 in the period and 39-27 on the night. The Kings went 0-for-2 on the power-play in the frame and on the night, while the Ducks went 0-for-1 in the period and 0-for-2 on the night.
So, after a loss that was very tough to swallow, the Kings go home to host the red-hot Minnesota Wild for the second time this seaon on Thursday night. Stay tuned for a game preview coming sometime before the puck drops at 10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM PT on Thursday.