KINGS AT AVALANCHE
Faceoff: 6 p.m. TV/Radio: NBCSN, 790-AM
The Kings (31-21-13) left for a two-game trip mired in ninth place in the Western Conference standings, two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. It’s difficult to imagine the reigning Stanley Cup champions missing the playoffs, but time is short and the teams ahead of them are playing well. (Vancouver defeated the Ducks on Monday, for instance). The Kings must improve their play away from Staples Center if they are to move up. They are 10-14-6 on the road, and play all but six of their final 17 games away from home. They have 10 games left against teams in playoff spots. The Kings also must find a way to score more goals. They have been blanked 1-0 twice in their last six games and their 175 total goals ranks as the fewest of any of the playoff contenders in the West. Colorado is 30-25-11.
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after a reporter asked Thursday if he looked at the NHL standings: “If you’re a Canadian, everybody’s looking at the standings. I’m a Canadian, so I’m looking at them.”
A reporter asked Kings coach Darryl Sutter if every game from now until the end of the regular season is must-win. Here’s how Sutter responded after the Kings’ 4-3 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday at Staples Center:
“There’s no must anywhere. You don’t have to do anything. You try and win. There is no such thing as a must-win. Nobody gets locked up or thrown in the ocean or anything like that. Other than that, it’s just a game.”
KINGS AT OILERS
Faceoff: 6:30 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
Kings general manger Dean Lombardi didn’t make a deal at the NHL’s trade deadline Monday, so the roster will remain intact for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs, if they make the playoffs. The Kings have lost three consecutive games, including a lackluster 5-2 defeat Sunday to the Winnipeg Jets, and fell from a playoff spot after winning eight consecutive games and returning to the postseason field. The Kings are 29-21-12 overall, but only 9-14-6 away from Staples Center. Only the Buffalo Sabres (seven), Toronto Maple Leafs (seven), Edmonton Oilers (eight) have fewer road wins than the Kings, which explains their predicament. Coach Darryl Sutter hasn’t been pleased with the play of his veterans during the Kings’ three-game losing streak, but he hasn’t named names. The Oilers are 18-35-10, and last in the Pacific Division and in the Western Conference.
Here’s one man’s perspective on the winners and losers at the trade deadline. OK, it’s not my view, but give it a look, anyway. There is some solid analysis courtesy of Yahoo Sports: https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/nhl-2015-trade-deadline-report-card–puck-daddy-s-winners–losers-150357318.html
The NHL’s trade deadline is at noon Monday (Pacific time). Last year, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi pulled off a major move to get veteran winger Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gaborik scored a team-leading 14 goals during the playoffs, helping to guide the Kings to their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons. Can Lombardi swing another deal that will benefit the struggling club? There was a rumor early Monday that the Kings would attempt to deal suspended defenseman Slava Voynov, but that was shot down quickly.
Last week, Lombardi acquired puck-moving defenseman Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes for a draft pick and a prospect, a move designed to fill a void created when Voynov was suspended indefinitely Oct. 20 by the NHL over a domestic violence charge at his Redondo Beach home. The addition of Sekera means the Kings are prepared to move on without Voynov.
Kings forward Jeff Carter isn’t among the most talkative players in the dressing room, and he doesn’t often give insightful answers when he does speak to reporters. However, he cut to the heart of the Kings’ troubles after a 5-2 loss Sunday to the Winnipeg Jets.
Said Carter:: “I do not even think it was close to be honest with you. We know what to expect coming in here. We have played here for the last four or five years. We did not play near close to what we should be playing to even come close to getting two points. We need to get going. We are in a tight race and every game for us right now is a playoff game, and we need to get our level up.”
The Kings face the Oilers on Tuesday in Edmonton to conclude a two-game trip.
Here’s Darryl Sutter summing up the Kings’ losing streak, which was extended to three games with a 5-2 loss Sunday afternoon to the Winnipeg Jets: “The Ottawa game we got a goal taken away from us (on a quick whistle during a goal-mouth scramble in a 1-0 loss). Then I said after that game some of older guys didn’t play very, and I think in Anaheim some of them didn’t play very well and some tonight did not play very well. So it’s not that it’s not a team thing.”
The Kings have lost two in a row after a 4-2 defeat Friday to the rival Ducks at the Honda Center. They had won eight in a row after losing 10 of 12 during a dismal stretch that threat their playoff chances. Consistency, or lack thereof, is a legitimate question for the 2014-15, particularly after a game like Friday’s. Kings captain Dustin Brown didn’t want to touch the topic, however.
“We win eight in a row and then we lose two and you guys think it’s consistency,” Brown said tersely to reporters after the Kings squandered a two-goal lead in the third period, giving up four goals to the Ducks in the final 20 minutes. “I don’t know why you said consistency because nobody was questioning that two games ago.”
Andrej Sekera, the newest member of the Kings’ defense corps, made his debut Friday against the Ducks at the Honda Center. It was all but lost in the Kings’ 4-2 defeat to the Ducks, but Sekera was scoreless in 21 minutes, 32 seconds. He did not record a shot on goal and was on the ice for Ryan Kesler’s goal for the Ducks. He also was on the ice for a second-period shift that lasted an astounding 3:41 as the Ducks pressured the Kings and kept them hemmed in their own zone.
Sekera played alongside Robyn Regehr, reuniting with his frequent defense partner when both were with the Buffalo Sabres. The Kings acquired Sekera on Wednesday from the Carolina Hurricanes, giving up a conditional draft pick and a prospect in order to gain speed, skill and depth on defense with Alec Martinez sidelined by a concussion and Slava Voynov suspended indefinitely by the NHL because of a domestic violence incident in his Redondo Beach home Oct. 20.