What to watch Thursday when the L.A. Kings play the Ottawa Senators

Here are a couple of things to watch when the Kings face off against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday at the Canadian Tire Center:

First, the Kings are 3-5-1 on the road after Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo, which helped to explain why they were fifth in the Pacific Division and ninth in the Western Conference at the start of business Wednesday. The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings appeared headed for an early vacation rather than a playing for a chance to defend their title.

Second, a poor road record plus a lack of scoring depth have been costly for the Kings (14-9-5). Anze Kopitar, their leading scorer last season, has only five goals and 12 points. Mike Richards has only four goals and 10 points. Marian Gaborik, their leading goal-scorer in the playoffs, has four goals and eight points in 16 injury-plagued games. Gaborik returned to the lineup Tuesday after a four-game absence because of an upper-body injury.

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Here’s a list of teams with worse road records than L.A. Kings … it’s a short one

The Kings rank 25th in the 30-team NHL with a 3-5-4 road record (10 points) entering Wednesday’s games around the league. Here are the teams behind them:

26. Philadelphia (3-9-3, 9 points)

27. Buffalo (4-9-0, 8 points)

28. Carolina (3-9-2, 8 points)

29. Edmonton (2-7-4, 8 points)

30. N.Y. Rangers (3-5-1, 7 points)

 

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Marian Gaborik returns to the lineup in the L.A. Kings loss to the Sabres

Marian Gaborik returned to the Kings’ lineup Tuesday after sitting out for four games because of an unspecified upper-body injury. The veteran forward played 19 shifts for a total ice time of 15 minutes, 53 seconds in the Kings’ 1-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. He took five shots, with three on goal and two blocked. He also had a plus/minus of zero. He played on the power-play and penalty-killing units.

Gaborik has four goals and eight points in 16 injury-plagued games this season.

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L.A. Kings woes in Buffalo continue in shutout loss to the struggling Sabres

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.

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L.A. Kings hit road and then the road hits back … and not for the first time

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.

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Three things to watch during the L.A. Kings five-game trip

Kings coach Darryl Sutter talks to players during practice at the Staples Center last June. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

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.

 

 

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Looking ahead to the L.A. Kings game against the Philadelphia Flyers

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.

 

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L.A. Kings send rookie forward Andy Andreoff to minors for conditioning assignment

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.

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L.A. Kings sign defenseman Alec Martinez to six-year contract extension

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez signed a six-year contract extension Wednesday. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

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.

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