After being handed a one-sided 5-1 loss at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres, the Los Angeles Kings decided to hold a closed-door meeting on Saturday.
It lasted almost 20 minutes, according to NHL.com correspondent Dan Greenspan, and there were surely a lot of things that needed to be addressed as the Kings, who were projected to be a fairly competitive team in 2018-19, have now lost four-straight contests.
Los Angeles has been outscored 21-5 over that stretch, showing the team’s vulnerabilities and holes at both ends of the ice. And although it’s just a couple weeks into the season and much too early to hit the panic button, there are some major red flags that this team should be worried about from its 2-5-1 start.
The Kings’ scoring depth up front has been a real issue for the club to start the season. Though the team’s current top-six has combined for 24 points, its bottom two lines, according to Daily Faceoff, have combined for only three points through eight games. That’s simply not going to cut it.
On the backend, the defense corps has been extremely reckless with the puck. Alec Martinez, Drew Doughty and Derek Forbort rank first, second and third amongst defensemen in giveaways, respectively, with Jake Muzzin not far behind. The quartet of blueliners has combined for 53 turnovers, with each playing in all eight games. The next closest grouping is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Morgan Reilly, Ron Hainsey, Jake Gardiner, and Nikita Zaitsev, who have combined for 38. But, unlike Toronto, the Kings haven’t had nearly the same offensive output to combat their defensive woes.
If health is not an issue, which, who knows with Jonathan Quick coming back from a lower-body injury, then their porous goaltending from their usually-dependable starter shouldn’t be a problem. His first start of the season was a solid 30-save showing, but his last two games have been abysmal, as he gave up 10 goals combined in those contests. I wouldn’t worry much about Quick, though — unless his recent poor performances are in fact a result of a lingering ailment.
So while the Kings have struggled out of the gate, you have to believe that the team’s play in their own end can’t stay this bad all season long and that Quick’s inconsistencies between the pipes should be resolved as he gets more into a rhythm with each passing start.
The main issue I see hindering this team is the (in)ability to get production outside of their top six — that will no doubt be the most insurmountable obstacle the Kings will face all year.
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