Three things about the L.A. Kings lackluster loss to the Dallas Stars

Here are the top few paragraphs from my game story:

How low can you go? For the Kings, a letdown Thursday against the Dallas Stars in the cavernous confines of Staples Center was probably inevitable after Wednesday’s 65-minute test of skills and wills against the Ducks at the raucous Honda Center.

The answer, at least at the start of the Kings’ 2-0 loss to the Stars, was subterranean. The Kings played a game so dull and devoid of efficiency and execution that it could have put a pot of coffee to sleep. It appeared the Kings left their skates in Orange County.

“It simply wasn’t good enough,” Kings right wing Justin Williams said. “We chased the game tonight. We were a step behind, a second slow. All that stuff. When you’re a second slow, they’re able to break out of the zone. We had no sustained pressure.”

Here are three things about the Kings’ second straight defeat:

First, Williams was right on all counts. The Kings weren’t good enough. Blame it on the weather, with the rain putting a damper on the evening. Blame it on the Ducks, who extended the Kings the night before. Blame it on the Kings’ injuries and a suspension to defenseman Slava Voynov. Blame it on the Stars, too. The Kings haven’t played very well to start the season. It’s that simple.

Second, the Kings are a sub-.500 team at the moment. They are 8-5-4, which looks good only until you realize they are actually 8-9. That’s not a good sign as they head toward the 20-game mark, which is usually when we find out what teams are truly made of. Big trades can happen and players can suddenly find an extra gear later in the season. But, for the most part, we know what kind of team you’re going to be after roughly 20 games of the season. This means you, Kings.

Third, Kings coach Darryl Sutter benched budding young stars Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli for most of the final two periods of Wednesday’s loss to the Ducks. They played a more familiar role in Thursday’s loss to the Stars, but neither was especially effective. That’s another cause for concern for the Kings, who relied so heavily on them and Jeff Carter for offense to start the season. Where are the goals going to come from if That 70s Line doesn’t score? Well, that’s the big question.

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Three things about the L.A. Kings shootout loss to the Islanders

Kings forward Dwight King, left, scored the only goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Kings forward Dwight King, left, scored the only goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

 

Dwight King scored the KIngs’ only goal during a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday at Staples Center. Brock Nelson countered for the Islanders, who also got shootout goals from Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen. Jonathan Quick robbed former Kings defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky from point-blank range after an excellent cross-ice pass from another ex-King, Thomas Hickey, in overtime.

Here are three things that stood out about Thursday’s defeat:

First, the Kings sorely missed winger Justin Williams, who couldn’t play after suffering an eye injury during their victory Tuesday over the Dallas Stars. Williams’ place on the Kings’ top line with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik was taken by Jordan Nolan, a grinder who works his tail off but doesn’t have the scoring touch. The Kings couldn’t say when Williams might be back in the lineup. They hoped they would have to play without him for only one game. With goals at a premium, the Kings need all the offensive help they can get at this point in the season.

Second, Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin said it best when asked how the Kings can generate more scoring chances and more goals. “Instead of trying to look for cute plays on the outside, putting it (the puck) on net and driving it,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting pucks to the net.” The Kings played far too often on the perimeter. When they did drive to the net, King scored on a pinball deflection off a centering pass from teammate Mike Richards only 3:49 into the game.

Third, it’s obvious by now that the Kings are skating with targets on their backs. It comes with the territory as defending Stanley Cup champions. You could see from the opening minutes that the Islanders were not content with a split of their games in Southern California. They got two points in Anaheim on Wednesday and were determined to secure two more Thursday in Los Angeles. The Kings should know by now the rest of the league wants to knock them off their lofty perch. Thursday’s game was simply more evidence of it.

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L.A. Kings forward Justin Williams won’t play against the Islanders

Kings forward Justin Williams won’t play Thursday night against the New York Islanders at Staples Center after suffering an eye injury in the closing moments of Tuesday’s victory over the Dallas Stars. The stick of Dallas’ Brendan Dillon clipped Williams, who left the ice immediately to seek treatment.

“Get better every day and when he’s ready to play, he’s ready to play,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after the team’s morning skate Thursday in El Segundo.

Jordan Nolan skated in Williams’ spot on a line with Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar during the Kings’ morning skate. Sutter also reunited That 70s Line after splitting up Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli in Dallas.

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Stanley Cup moments (part 7: Justin Williams scores the winner in Game 1)

Justin Williams’ OT goal in Game 1 vs. New York, June 4. Only three days after Alec Martinez’s goal in overtime beat Chicago in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, Williams supplied the winner off a turnover only 4:36 into OT in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Mr. Game 7,” as Williams came to be known for his heroics in winner-take-all games, was instantly dubbed “Mr. Game 1,” by teammates and reporters after setting the Kings on course for a 1-0 series lead with another huge goal.

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Stanley Cup moments (part 2: Justin Williams scores the first of his big goals)

Justin Williams’ tiebreaking goal in Game 4 vs. San Jose, April 24: Williams would go on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. He made one big play after another during the postseason, and this was no exception. His goal late in the second period gave the Kings a 3-2 lead en route to a 6-3 victory over the Sharks that ignited an improbable comeback in the first-round series. Williams finished the playoffs with 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 26 games, including seven points (two goals, five assists) in the Stanley Cup Final against New York.

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Kings looking ahead to Game 7 against the Ducks (in their own words, Part 2)

Here’s forward Justin Williams on playing fantasy Game 7s in his driveway or park or local rink when he was a youngster and whether that prepared him as an adult:

“Of course it’s Game 7. It’s usually the Stanley Cup finals, too. It’s the same thing in any other sport. It’s the last seconds of the game and the buzzer’s coming down. It’s the ninth inning and two outs. It’s football and it’s the fourth quarter. It’s everything. It’s you or them and that’s what you relish as a kid, coming out on top. I don’t think you can really prepare much for this. You just go out and trust your instincts and, hopefully, they’ll bring you to success.”

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Kings center Anze Kopitar talks about clicking with linemate Marian Gaborik

It was no coincidence that Kings center Anze Kopitar began to heat up after the acquisition of forward Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets before the March 5 trade deadline. Kopitar had 18 points, including 10 goals, in the 19 games after Gaborik joined the Kings for a March 6 game against the Winnipeg Jets. Kopitar went on to lead the Kings with 70 points and 29 goals in 82 games. Gaborik finished the season with 30 points, including 11 goals, in 41 games. He had 16 points, including five goals, after he was dealt to the Kings.

“Once he came here, you try to get to know him as quick as you can and build some chemistry and I think me, Marian and Justin have done a pretty good job,” Kopitar said, referring to Justin Williams, the third member of the Kings’ top line. “It feels like we’ve jelled together pretty well. I think all three of us want to play a give and go game. He’s certainly the type of player who likes to do that. We’ve talked about it. The offensive zone time, we’ve tried to mix it around and get a lot of zone time.”

 

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A look inside the Kings drought emergency (part 2)

When you look at the individual numbers, the facts are worse. The Kings’ leading scorer, Anze Kopitar, ranks only 34th in the NHL with 47 points (17 goals, 30 assists). Their leading goal-scorer, Jeff Carter, also ranks only 34th in the league with 20 goals. Kopitar is 56th with 17 goals. The Kings have only six players on their roster with 10 goals or more and only Carter and Kopitar have 15 or more.

Further, some of their best players have been mired in prolonged slumps. Mike Richards’ skid has received perhaps the most attention, but he’s not alone and he’s not the driest player on the roster. Richards’ last goal was Jan. 18 against Detroit. He has only two goals since Nov. 25. Overall, he has seven goals and 36 points.

Dustin Brown, the Kings’ team captain, hasn’t scored since Jan. 13. He has one point on the road this season, a goal against the Ducks on Dec. 13. Overall, he has 10 goals and 16 points. Justin Williams’ last goal was Jan. 9 against Boston. He has 14 goals and 29 points.

 

 

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Looking forward to Saturday morning’s game against the Ottawa Senators

Reminder: Saturday’s game is early for us on the West Coast. Fox Sports West and KTLK-1150 will carry the game starting at 11 a.m. … The Kings appeared to be in trouble when No. 1 goaltender Jonathan Quick, the MVP of their Stanley Cup championship run in 2012, suffered a groin strain Nov. 12 against the Buffalo Sabres. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

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Looking forward to the Kings’ game Monday against the St. Louis Blues

The Kings’ bid for a franchise-record 12th consecutive game with at least one point came to a halt when they lost Saturday to the Calgary Flames. The prevailing thought in the dressing room was simply to “park it,” as defenseman Willie Mitchell phrased it Sunday. In other words, put it out by the curb and walk away from it. The Kings (16-7-4) have issues, starting with their faulty power play. They haven’t scored a man-advantage goal in the last five games, going 0 for 18. Right wing Justin Williams said the Kings need more shots from point-blank range instead of firing them from the perimeter while on the power play.

Williams scored the Kings’ lone goal Saturday, the 200th of his NHL career. Anze Kopitar had an assist for his 500th point. The teams meet for the first time since the Kings defeated the Blues in the first round of the playoffs last spring. The Blues are 18-4-3 and have the league’s second-best power play (22 for 89, 24.7 percent). Alexander Steen was tied with Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks for third in scoring with 31 points (20 goals, 11 assists), as of Sunday morning. Only Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (21) had more goals than Steen. Each had played 20 games.

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