Here’s the first part of a group question-and-answer session with Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford:
Question: How much of it is Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones and how much is it the defense?
Ranford: “I think it’s a combination of both. You need your goalie to make the big saves at the right time and you have to play solid defense. I think this group here, going back to the Terry Murray takes, has taken a lot of pride in their defense. That hasn’t changed.”
Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin seem like a defense pairing built to last, a union of two offensive threats. Or is it?
“Evaluate it every game,” coach Darryl Sutter said Friday, the day before the Kings played host to the New York Islanders at Staples Center. “Quite honest, when we went into Anaheim the other day, the last time Jake played in Anaheim, he was (poor), so don’t think I didn’t talk to him about it. Because you’re evaluated at the end of every game. Because at the end of the day … we’re not that far from Jake Muzzin being a healthy scratch. Not that far removed. He’s a young guy and we’re looking for consistency.”
At first glance, it seems Kings left wing Dustin Brown is playing his usual game. He leads the team with 94 hits in 25 games. He has 69 shots on goal and has played an average of 17 minutes, 25 seconds per game.
He simply isn’t producing goals and assists as he might in a normal season, however. Brown goes into Wednesday game against the Sharks in San Jose with nine points (four goals, five assists). That projects to only 30 points in 82 games, which would be his fewest since he had 28 points in 79 games in 2005-06. He had 29 points in 46 games during the lockout-shortened 48-game season in 2012-13. His career-best is 60 points in 78 games in 2007-08.
What’s troubling for the Kings is that Brown’s streak of 50 points or more in five consecutive full seasons is in serious jeopardy unless something changes dramatically the rest of the way.
Coach Darryl Sutter ranked Trevor Lewis as the Kings’ second-best penalty-killer after Anze Kopitar. It almost goes without saying that goaltender Jonathan Quick is actually the Kings’ best penalty-killer, what with his customary array of quality saves whenever the team is shorthanded.
“We have good penalty-killing because of our goaltending,” Sutter said.
Avoiding penalties is always the first step, though.
“You have to learn how to do that,” Sutter said of playing a hard-nosed but legal game. “It wasn’t a very disciplined team at one point, and if you look at teams that aren’t very disciplined the last few years, they have a hard time making the playoffs.”
The Kings hit the road Thursday for a four-game trip that starts Friday in Raleigh, N.C., lugging some serious baggage after four games to start the season. Here’s the third of three things to watch during an eight-night trek to play the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators:
No team has won the Stanley Cup in October, but plenty of them have lost a chance to play for it with lackluster starts to the season. It’s only been four games, including two at Staples Center, but there are already some disturbing defensive numbers for the defensive-minded Kings. Take a look at some of their individual plus-minus defensive ratings. Matt Frattin and Jake Muzzin are each minus-5. Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty and Jarret Stoll are each minus-3. No one on the roster is a plus. That’s a poor sign for the Kings, who pride themselves on suffocating the life out of opponents. Look for it to improve soon. If not, then coach expect Darryl Sutter to continue to tinker with his lineup and especially his line combinations.
The Kings hit the road Thursday for a four-game trip that starts Friday in Raleigh, N.C., lugging some serious baggage after four games to start the season. Here’s the first of three things to watch during an eight-night trek to play the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators:
The Kings’ scoring depth isn’t what it should be, or could be, or needs to be. You could gloss over it if this wasn’t a concern last season, and the season before, and the season before. It’s a pattern that’s been repeated again and again. The Kings have scored 11 goals in four games, less than three per game. Jeff Carter has scored four times and Dustin Brown twice. No one else has more than one. In fact, only four other players have scored. The best teams all have good scoring depth, the Kings aren’t there just yet.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he is concerned about the lackluster play of defenseman Jake Muzzin, who scored their only goal in a 3-1 loss Monday to the New York Rangers. Muzzin did not have a good game controlling the puck or keeping opposing stickhandlers out of threatening positions, however. He also had plenty of turnovers, which prompted a reporter to bring up Muzzin’s poor play after Tuesday’s practice.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter might insert left winger Daniel Carcillo into the lineup for the home-opening game Monday against the New York Rangers. The Kings simply didn’t get enough of anything from their left wingers in their first two games to satisfy Sutter. Carcillo didn’t play in either the victory over the Minnesota Wild or the loss to the Winnipeg Jets, but Sutter might turn to him to provide more energy on the left side Monday.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter stated the obvious Tuesday when he expressed concerned about the team’s lackluster play at left wing last season. Then he dropped a bit of a surprise on a gaggle of reporters when he said he would play left wing Dwight King on the Kings’ top line to start their regular-season opener Thursday at Minnesota.
The Kings’ roster is remarkably unchanged from the one that won the Stanley Cup championship in 2012. Does that ease coach Darryl Sutter’s mind going into Thursday’s season-opening game against the Minnesota Wild at St. Paul, Minn? Of course not.