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.
This didn’t get much buzz on this side of the border, but the Canadian version of ESPN (except with tons of hockey highlights and games) asked for help from 14 unnamed NHL coaches and general managers to rank the league’s top 50 players. Four Kings made TSN’s list, led by center Anze Kopitar at No. 18. Defenseman Drew Doughty (19th), goaltender Jonathan Quick (22nd) and left wing Dustin Brown (48th) also made the cut.
Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins was No. 1.
It’s all subjective, of course, but the Kings’ Jonathan Quick was Yahoo! Sports pick as the top goaltender in the world. The Puck Daddy blog ranked the top goalies and Quick emerged as the best. Who are we to argue? Here are the site’s comments:
Kings coach Darryl Sutter was hired at midseason last season and inherited a talented but underachieving team. Among the players on the roster he didn’t know much about was a young Russian defenseman named Slava Voynov. Sutter talked Wednesday about Voynov’s progress from then until now.
“I guess what I remember most was he wasn’t playing much if he was here,” Sutter recalled. “It was a big adjustment for him. There definitely was a language barrier. Whether he was uncomfortable with not wanting to converse, whatever it was. That’s an issue.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner as MVP of the 2012 playoffs, stopped all 30 shots in Saturday’s series-saving 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues and 93 of 97 overall for a .959 save percentage. Blues goalie Brian Elliott made 20 saves in Game 3 and has stopped 76 of 79 shots for a .962 save percentage. Elliott and the Blues lead the best-of-7 series two games to one.
In addition, Quick has a 2.05 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in 35 career playoff games. He has a 2.32 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage in 286 regular-season appearances. So, he’s clearly better in the postseason, when the game are more meaningful. Need further proof? Last spring, he had a 1.41 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage during the playoffs.