The regular season is 82 games long, meaning the official end of the first quarter of the season would be after 20 and a half games. Well, we’re through 20, so let’s just consider this the first quarter of the season. How have the Kings fared? Well, they’re 10-7-3, and although that’s not horrible, that record is still below expectations for this team. Why is that only their record? Well, let’s take a look at how some of the players have done, and I’m going to go through all of the Kings and assess their season so far and give them a grade. Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and grades…
Jonathan Bernier: Hard to really assess his performance so far when Terry Murray won’t play him. Three starts? Really? Grade: Unavailable.
Dustin Brown: Four goals so far, and the hits are way down. Not what you’d expect from Brown. On the other hand, he does have nine assists, and he’s pretty snake-bitten from a goals standpoint with all of the posts he’s hit. The goals should start to come for him. What concerns me is the lack of hitting. Maybe he’s not sure about the rules under Shanahan? Grade: C+
Kyle Clifford: I love the kid, but he should not be in the NHL. I never understood why they kept him up here last year as a 19-year old to play fourth line minutes when he still had junior eligibility. He would have been much better served developing further and you hope this doesn’t hurt him down the road. He hasn’t been able to pick up where he left off at the end of last year and has just three points so far, the Kings were certainly expecting him to provide more secondary scoring this year. Hopefully it’s just a sophomore slump, and hopefully he pulls out of this soon. That third line is not clicking at all. Grade: D+
Drew Doughty: Missing camp and then the injury hasn’t helped at all, but Doughty is not looking like a $7M defenseman. Not even close. He’s been torched defensively at times and other than a couple of really nice shots, hasn’t been able to produce much offensively. The Kings need Doughty to really step it up and lead that blue line. Grade: C-
Davis Drewiske: Again, can’t really the grade the guy with the amount of playing time he’s gotten this year. Just one game so far. Grade: Unavailable.
Fraser finally got his shot after his injury and after a spot opened up, and he’s grabbed it. Only a few games so far, but he’s been fantastic on the fourth line, doing exactly what’s asked of him. Even chipped in with a goal. Not setting the world on fire by any stretch of the imagination, but for what they expect from him, he’s been very good. Grade: A-
Simon Gagne: The Kings took a flyer on Gagne in the summer, the former 40-goal scorer, hoping he could stay healthy and add some much-needed offense to this team. So far, it’s worked out. He’s only missed two games and already has seven goals, as well as seeming to have a knack for coming up with big goals. He’s been a big part of that awesome first line so far. Grade: A
Matt Greene: He’s already chipped in with a goal which was a nice surprise, but that’s not his job. His job is on the defensive side of things, and he has a knack for taking dumb penalties and routinely gets beat by faster forwards. He needs to clean that up. Grade: C+
Trent Hunter: He’s been a healthy scratch more often than not or in a third or fourth line role, but he’s also seen some power play time, and not done much with it. Another culprit of the Kings’ lack of secondary scoring this year. That said, and I know he got a bit of power play time, he hasn’t had a ton of opportunity. Grade: C-
Jack Johnson: Four goals and five assists in 20 games and only a minus-3 so far. Don’t forget the three game-winning goals and two overtime goals, and he stepped up big in Doughty’s absence, but he’s cooled down and needs to keep his game going when Doughty’s in the lineup. Grade: A-
Anze Kopitar: Tremendous. On a low-scoring team, he’s one of the league’s top scorers, makes players around him better and is fantastic defensively. Keep it up, Kopi. Grade: A+
Trevor Lewis: A good penalty killer, but that is all. Mind you, he’s mostly been in a fourth line role, but he’s been unable to generate any secondary scoring for the Kings, and Murray appears to be considering the press box for Lewis at this point. Grade: C-
Andrei Loktionov: Haven’t seen enough of him so far to make much of a judgement on him. Looks good so far though. Grade: Unavailable.
Alec Martinez: Two points, both goals, in 16 games, and he’s getting regular power play time, so that’s not enough. The way Voynov’s playing, Martinez is really going to have to play well when he gets healthy. Grade: C+
Willie Mitchell: He’s been able to stay healthy so far, which is great, but you can also start to tell that Father Time is catching up with them. That said, he’s still been solid defensively, has cleaned up a lot of mistakes by his partner, whoever it happens to be, and has been a fantastic mentor for Voynov. No goals and four assists so far, but offense isn’t really his role. That said, he’s got a big shot and can put up some points at times, and the Kings will take scoring from anyone at this point. Keep it up, Willie. Despite all of the prospects we need to make room for permanently (Voynov, Hickey, Muzzin), although it’s assumed that he’d just be let go at the end of the year because he’s the only defenseman with an expiring contract, the Kings may just have to extend him and make room with trade… Grade: B+
Ethan Moreau: I’m not sure why he hasn’t sat in the press box yet. He’s slow, he takes bad penalties, he can’t score, and it’s a crime that he ever gets to set foot on the ice during a power play. Grade: D-
Scott Parse: The poor guy just can’t stay healthy. He finally looked like he was starting to come around on offense. That said, he’s played nine game, and despite the two goals, hasn’t shown a ton and takes awful penalties. You wonder if there’s going to be room on this team for him when he returns. He’ll probably get healthy, get claimed off waivers, then score 25 goals on whatever team he goes to. Book it. Grade: C-
Dustin Penner: I want him to succeed. I really do. He just isn’t. I know he’s had injuries to deal with, I know he finally started to look like he might be coming around, but in 14 games he’s mostly looked awful, has two assists and hasn’t scored. Heck, forget Parse, I don’t even know if there will be room for Penner when he gets healthy. If he doesn’t hit the ground running when he returns, the Kings may have to consider just cutting their losses. Grade: F
Jonathan Quick: Murray’s overplayed him, and that’s not Quick’s fault, but Quick’s play is a large reason as to why he’s being overplayed. Hasn’t given up as many bad goals as he had in the past, hasn’t really had a terrible game this year yet that I can think of. I hate to keep beating the dead horse, but he’d do even better if he got more rest… Grade: A
Mike Richards: Just sit back and think to yourself for a minute. Where would this team be without Mike Richards? Other than in the basement? He is simply unreal, he does everything right, and the Kings have been dying for a player like this for years. I still can’t get over the short handed goal he scored on Saturday. The hustle was unbelievable. I could go on forever about this guy, this whole paragraph for him was just a Mike Richards love fest. Grade: A+
Brad Richardson: He hustles, he skates, he’s fast, he can kill penalties, he gets himself in good position… But he just can’t finish. He hasn’t recorded a point since the first game and he may see himself in the press box soon. The Kings could really use secondary scoring, and he’s not providing any. However, he’s hardly alone. Grade: C
Rob Scuderi: Not a great game against Detroit on Saturday, but overall he’s still been what the Kings expected him to be: A solid stay-at-home veteran defenseman who can shut opponents down and log big minutes on the penalty kill, and Scuderi’s once again providing that. Grade: B
Jarret Stoll: Still an awesome faceoff man, reliable in his own end and probably the best shootout man alive, but through 20 games, he has one goal. Ouch. The Kings were hoping Stoll would help provide good secondary scoring for them, but he’s not provided any. He’s getting power play time too, he really needs to step it up. He’s on pace for about four goals. Grade: C-
Slava Voynov: They called him up when Doughty was hurt. He scored two goals and one assist in his last game. Then got sent down. Here he is again with Alec Martinez hurt, and with only three games under his belt since rejoining the Kings, already has a one-goal, one-assist performance. In just eight games this year, he has three goals, which lead all Kings defensemen, as well as two assists. I don’t think you can send him down. I don’t know how you keep him up because I don’t see a trade happening, but I don’t know how you send him down. Grade: A+
Kevin Westgarth: Westgarth’s been Westgarth. Occasionally he’ll complete a pass and we’ll all get really excited. Usually gives a solid five minutes and will drop the gloves at times. For what he is, he’s been fine. Grade: B
Justin Williams: He’s been a big part of the first line success and has helped out Gagne and Kopitar, and he’s third on the team with 15 points, and the 12 assists, which rank him second on the team, are also impressive, but only three goals? The Kings need him to put the puck in the back of the net more often. He’s only on pace for about 12 goals this year. Like Stoll, there’s no way he can finish that low so he should start to pick it up sooner or later. Grade: B
So that’s how I think each of the Kings have fared so far in this still young season. Hopefully some of those players with not so flattering marks can step it up. How do you think they’ve done?