The Kings’ Drew Doughty played 32 minutes, 1 second during their 2-1 victory in a Stadium Series game Saturday at Levi’s Stadium, a record for the most minutes in an outdoor game. It’s likely to last only as long as it’ll take for Ryan Suter to make his outdoor debut next season for the Minnesota Wild.
Damien Cox of Canada’s sportsnet.ca, one of the best in the business, offers a few thoughts about the state of the Kings leading into the March 2 trade deadline. It’s worth a look. Here’s the link: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/deadline-decisions-can-kings-afford-to-boost-blueline/
KINGS AT BLUE JACKETS
Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
Defenseman Alec Martinez is said to be day-to-day because of concussion-like symptoms after he took a hard hit Saturday. The Kings ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory Saturday over the then-Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning, the fourth stop on their five-game trip. Martinez was injured in the first period. A victory today over the Blue Jackets would enable them to salvage their trip and give them back-to-back road wins for the first time since defeating the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 26 and then the Phoenix Coyotes on Dec. 4. The Kings are 22-18-12 overall, but 6-12-6 on the road after ending a four-game losing streak away from Staples Center on Saturday. Only the lowly Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers, with five apiece, had fewer road victories at the start of business Sunday. Defenseman Drew Doughty scored his first goal in 14 games Saturday. Justin Williams scored twice against the Lightning, ending a seven-game drought without a point. The Blue Jackets are 23-25-3, and will welcome Marian Gaborik back to Columbus for the first time since trading him to the Kings last March.
KINGS AT LIGHTNING
Faceoff: 2 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
The Kings (21-18-12) lost their third in a row to start their five game trip and remained mired in 12th place in the Western Conference after a 3-2 defeat Thursday to the Florida Panthers. They also were five points out of the final wild-card spot. The Kings are 5-12-6 away from Staples Center, tied with the lowly Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers for the fewest road victories in the 30-team NHL. The Kings’ chances of making the playoffs were down to only 12.5 percent, according to the website sportsclubstats.com. Kings forward Jeff Carter has a defensive rating of plus-14 in home games, seventh-best in the league. Carter’s defensive rating of minus-12 on the road is 798th, however. Carter has scored 12 of his 14 goals and recorded 17 of 22 his assists at home. Defenseman Drew Doughty is the Kings’ leading scorer on the road with 14 points, including four goals. Tampa Bay is first in the Eastern Conference with a 33-15-5 record. Steve Stamkos leads the Lightning with 28 goals, tied for third overall in the NHL with two others.
Not to pick on Jeff Carter, because he’s only one of many of the Kings’ top producers who are struggling on the road. But the numbers simply don’t add up for a number of the Kings’ best offensive players. Carter has scored 12 of his 14 goals and recorded 17 of his 22 assists at Staples Center, for instance. The home vs. road disparity is widespread, however. It helps to explains the Kings’ 5-12-6 road mark. Here’s a look at the Kings’ top scorers’ road woes:
Anze Kopitar, 11 goals, 28 assists overall; 2 goals, 6 assists on the road.
Carter: 14 goals, 22 assists overall; 2 goals, five assists on the road.
Drew Doughty: 4 goals, 26 assists overall; 4 goals, 10 assists on the road.
Marian Gaborik: 16 goals, 13 assists overall; 6 goals, 4 assists on the road.
Tyler Toffoli: 13 goals, 16 assists overall; 4 goals, 4 assists on the road.
Justin Williams 13 goals, 12 assists overall; 7 goals, 5 assists on the road.
Also: Carter has a plus/minus rating of minus-12 on the road and Kopitar has a minus-14 on the road.
The Kings got back to their grinding defensive style of play during a 2-0 victory Monday over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Staples Center. No more running-and-gunning for the Kings, who played the sort of style that carried them to Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and ’14 but was absent during a three-game losing streak.
“We are a physical team,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “That’s how we wear other teams down. We get in on the forecheck. When they’re in our ‘D-zone’ we make it miserable for them to be down there. We did a better job of that tonight, but I think that we still have some room for improvement.”
The Kings will be well-represented at the Jan. 25 All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio. Joining coach Darryl Sutter and his staff will be defenseman Drew Doughty, center Anze Kopitar and winger Tanner Pearson.
Doughty made the team for the first time in his seven-year career, a mind-boggling fact given his remarkable play the last few seasons. But there was no game last season because of the Sochi Olympics and it was not played in 2012-13 because of the lockout.
Kopitar was selected despite some subpar statistics in the first half of the season. He was the Kings’ leader with 29 goals and 70 points last season, but had only eight goals and 30 points in the first 41 games of 2014-15.
Pearson was selected as one of six rookies to make the teams. He had 12 goals, tied with Marian Gaborik and Tyler Toffoli for the team lead, plus four assists going into the Kings’ game Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.
Sometimes special teams really are special. The Kings’ 3-1 victory Saturday over the San Jose Sharks was only the latest case in point. The Kings scored twice on their power play and blanked the Sharks on two chances on theirs. Each team scored once while skating at even strength, so …
The Kings ran their streak of scoring two or more man-advantage goals to four consecutive games, the first time that’s happened since March 1993, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. The Kings have at least one power-play goal in five consecutive games, which isn’t bad for a team with a notoriously wonky power-play unit. The Kings’ power play is now clicking at a brisk 20.6 percent.
“I think finally pucks are going in for us,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “I don’t think we weren’t generating chances in the past. I think we were always generating. We have so much firepower on our power-play unit. It’s got to score more goals obviously, and the last three games or so we’ve gotten one in every game. So, it’s coming together. It’s just getting pucks in the net. We’re going to create opportunities. We know that. We just need to bear down and put them in.”
Kings defenseman Slava Voynov is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday in Torrance on charges of domestic violence stemming from an Oct. 19 incident at his Redondo Beach home. Voynov was suspended indefinitely with pay by the NHL on Oct. 20. He is free to skate on his own and use the Kings’ training facility in El Segundo. He is able to speak with teammates and the coaching staff as they pass in the hallway and the locker room.
It’s safe to say the Kings miss the 24-year-old Russian on the ice. He is certainly not out of sight or out of mind, as far as the KIngs are concerned.
“I don’t see how we couldn’t miss Slava,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said after the team’s morning skate Saturday. “Slava is ne of the best defensemen on our team and in our conference. He’s a great player. Obviously, we miss him a little bit, but I think other guys have done a great job of stepping up and not trying to replace him but playing in his spot for right now. Guys have done good job.
“I think our ‘D’ corps has played pretty solid this year. We’ve had our ups and downs, but so has our whole team.”
The Kings’ scoring struggles are nothing new. They had one goal in two games plus one period before taking the ice to start the second Thursday in Ottawa. Then erupted for three in the final period, breaking a 2-2 tie with the Senators and holding on for a 5-3 victory. The Kings improved to 12-2-1 in their last 15 games with Ottawa, dating to Jan. 16, 2001. They also have won four in a row over the Sens.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin tied a career high with three assists.
Trevor Lewis scored the game-winning goal, his first GWG since last March 22.
Drew Doughty had two assists for his third multi-point game of the season.
(Thanks to the NHL’s crack stat crew for the facts and figures).