How’s this for a head-scratcher: the Kings, winners of two Stanley Cup championships in three seasons, are still an absolute bust in Buffalo. The Sabres’ 1-0 victory Tuesday over the Kings gave them a 12-1-1 record in upstate New York, dating to a 2-0 victory for Buffalo on Dec. 17, 1993. The Sabres have outscored the Kings by a stunning 59-21 margin on home ice during that stretch. The Kings’ last victory in Buffalo was a 4-1 decision Feb. 21, 2003. The Kings have lost six in a row since then and have been outscored 31-8. Granted the Sabres were pretty good during part of that stretch, but that’s a remarkable streak of futility for the Kings.
Thanks to the Sabres’ media relations department for the facts and figures.
The Kings fell to 3-5-4 away from Staples Center after a 1-0 loss Tuesday to the Buffalo Sabres, the first game on a five-game trip. Last season, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar and the rest of the Kings were the kings of the road during the playoffs. They won Game 7s in San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago en route to their second Stanley Cup championship in three years.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter talks to players during practice at the Staples Center last June. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)
The Kings begin a five-game trip Tuesday against the Sabres in Buffalo, N.Y. Here are three things to watch as they tramp through the snowy climes in Buffalo, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and St. Louis:
First, the King simply have to be better on the road than their 3-4-4 record to start the season. Few teams have played fewer road games than the KIngs at this point in the season, so things either have to pick up or the Kings are going to find themselves in great difficulty later in the season. This is a team, after all, that won three Game 7s on the road last season in the playoffs. Their showing away from Staples Center has been troubling to start 2014-15, however.
Second, Kings coach Darryl Sutter could reunite That 70s Line of Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli if and when Marian Gaborik returns to the lineup after sitting out the last four games because of an upper-body injury. Gaborik is said to be close and could be back in the lineup Tuesday against the Sabres. Pearson, Carter and Toffoli were the Kings’ only effective line to start the season. They are the only ones with seven goals or more, with Pearson and Toffoli leading the way with 10 apiece. They weren’t as effective apart as they were together. The Kings lack scoring punch, which is hardly a news bulletin. They need those three playing together and clicking together, because they can’t get by with a wonky offense.
Third, the Kings need Gaborik healthy and productive. He signed a seven-season, $34-million contract last June to stay with the Kings. The team needs him to be on the ice and contributing. With only four goals and eight points in 15 games so during this injury-plagued season, the Kings’ investment in him looks rather unwise.
Here are three things to know about the Kings’ game Saturday against the Flyers:
First, this is the Kings’ only home game in a stretch of seven contests. They began with a victory Thursday over the Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz., improving their road record to 3-4-4. They are 11-3-1 at Staples Center, however. The Kings depart Monday for a five-game trip to play the Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues. It’s a chance to see if the Kings can make up ground on the road. Or whether they’re just a poor road club.
Second, Kings captain Dustin Brown scored two goals in their 4-0 victory over the Coyotes, his first multiple-goal game of the season. Brown has six goals and 10 points overall this season, including four goals and four assists in his last eight games. He had two goals and zero assists in his first 18 games in 2014-15. So, he’s trending in the right direction after an ineffective start to the season.
Third, the Flyers are a desperate team. They are 8-13-4, including 2-9-2 on the road, after starting their west coast trip with one-goal losses Tuesday to the Sharks in San Jose and Wednesday to the Ducks in Anaheim. They believed they deserved better in each game, but lost twice in heartbreaking fashion.
The Kings on Friday assigned forward Andy Andreoff to their American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, N.H., for a conditioning assignment. Andreoff, a rookie, has appeared in only eight games with the Kings, going scoreless with 12 penalty minutes. Andreoff has played in 150 games with Manchester, scoring 25 goals while in the minors. He also has 37 assists and 248 penalty minutes.
Kings defenseman Alec Martinez signed a six-year contract extension Wednesday. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)
Defenseman Alec Martinez came through for the Kings with two enormous goals to help them hoist the Stanley Cup last spring. The Kings then came through for Martinez in a big way with a six-season, $24-million contract extension Wednesday.
It’s another in a series of long-term deals given by Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who also has locked up forward Marian Gaborik (seven years, $34 million) and defenseman Matt Greene (four years, $10 million) with new extended contracts.
In addition, Martinez becomes the fifth player to be signed through at least the 2020-21 season, joining Gaborik, team captain Dustin Brown, forward Jeff Carter and goaltender Jonathan Quick. Two others, Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards, are signed through 2019-20.
Martinez, 27, has played in 221 regular-season games for the Kings and 59 more in the playoffs. He scored series-winning goals in overtime in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against New York Rangers and in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Overall, the Rochester Hill, Mich., native has 25 goals and 62 points in his career.
Sometimes a headline really does say it all. No idea what they’re going to look like, but they won’t be the same as the silver and gray abominations the Kings wore during the Dodger Stadium game against the equally disheveled Ducks last January. If you want one, they’ll be on sale at a season-ticket holders event at the re-opening of the Team L.A. Store at Staples Center on Dec. 16. You also can buy one online at: http://teamlastore.com/ the same day. No word on price yet.
Las Vegas bookmaker Bovada released updated odds to win the Stanley Cup and the Kings’ chances at a third championship took a very slight hit Wednesday. The Kings went to 11/1 from 10/1 and are listed sixth in the 30-team league. The Chicago Blackhawks remained the same at 15/2, the Pittsburgh Penguins went to 15/2 from 10/1. The Ducks went to 9/1 from 10/1, the St. Louis Blues went to 10/1 from 12/1 and the Boston Bruins joined the Kings in going from 10/1 to 11/1.
What does it all mean? Who knows? But it’s fun to talk about.
Alec Martinez (27) played for the first time after missing seven games after undergoing finger surgery. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)
Well, it depends. Here’s what Alec Martinez said to say after playing for the first time after sitting out for seven games because of finger surgery: “It felt good to be back playing again. It’s not too much fun being out. As for my game, I’m not too happy with it. I had to shake off a little bit of rust. I know I’ve got a better game in me next game. At the end of the day, we got the two points. That’s all I care about.”
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said, bringing up Martinez’s name after reporters failed to do so after a 2-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday at Staples Center: “Whenever guys come back from injuries, they have a lot of energy, and he and Robyn (Regehr, his defense partner Tuesday) were really good.”