Only occasionally this season has General Manager
"There's been pockets where it kind of looks like us. You say, 'There it is,' and then it goes the other way," he said. "Lately I think it's been better. We've seen greater pockets of it. But is it where needs to be? No."
The Kings, 5-5-4 since Dec. 6, will hit the midway point of their schedule Thursday, when they face the
"We're just kind of treading water right now, not really swimming forward, not really swimming back," right wing
The fact that the Kings are not satisfied is encouraging. This group has largely been self-policing, with occasional prods from Coach Darryl Sutter.
The question is whether they have the physical and mental reserves to repeat after three long playoff runs and the unexpected loss of defenseman
The Kings got salary-cap relief in the amount of Voynov's $4.1 million cap hit. They didn't get relief on the ice. In his absence, they've played
Top-four defensemen like Voynov are hard to find, and the Kings are unlikely to acquire one; if they replace his salary and later get him back, they'd be over the cap and would have to make a move. Lombardi said Monday he can envision Voynov returning this season if a jury determines he's not guilty.
"Because, in fact, it is a potential scenario that we don't have control over, we have to work on the assumption he's coming back," Lombardi said.
Lombardi said he's happy with the Kings' offense despite slumps by Anze Kopitar,
As Williams said, not bad isn't sufficient for a team that has set its standards high.
"Our goals-against is something that's concerned us right now and something that we'll address, and we'll be fine. No panic at all," Williams said. "We can't lose what we're made of, and we're built from the back out. Defense first."
Doughty said no one is happy with being in the mix for a playoff spot instead of in firm control.
"We know what it takes. This group has been together for so long," he said. "We go through these spells every year. I think every team in the league does. But we've got to get out of this one quickly, and we've got to get on a roll and win a bunch of games."
Lombardi trusts their words over their inconsistent deeds. "In the end, these guys have always figured it out," he said. "Every challenge is different, and every time, they seem to find a way, and that's ultimately what you believe in."
Ratings dip for Winter Classic
Staging the Winter Classic outdoors on New Year's Day has given the NHL a unique opportunity to stand out in a crowded sports calendar. Having players brave the elements in front of huge crowds makes for picturesque scenery and celebrates a past many of us wish we had shared.
But TV ratings for last Thursday's game between the Chicago Blackhawks and
They've spoiled its special nature by also creating the Stadium Series — staging six outdoor games last season was overkill — and involving the same handful of teams doesn't expand audiences. In addition, Nationals Park lacked the history and charm of Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, previous memorable sites.
The Winter Classic is still profitable for the NHL and a big prize for Commissioner
The NHL fined the