Kings can't afford any more clunkers

Marian Gaborik is latest King to spell out issues that need to be resolved in order to make playoffs

They were sitting in a wild-card playoff spot at the Christmas break.

Not safely, but in a playoff position, nonetheless.

The Kings were two points ahead of the Calgary Flames and six in front of the Minnesota Wild. Far behind were the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars, trailing by seven and eight points, respectively.

It has been a series of misses since then for the Kings. All four of those teams have surpassed the Kings in the standings. Calgary, heading into Wednesday night's game against San Jose, leads the Kings by five points. The Kings trail the Avalanche by a point and — although the Wild, the Stars and the Kings all have 54 points — Minnesota and Dallas are ahead on the tiebreaker in the Western Conference.

That, coupled with a clunker in Washington on Tuesday, seemed to result in an increased air of urgency at Kings' practice here at the Florida Panthers' arena.

"Last night some players weren't as effective for us," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said.

They've won only four more games since the holiday break and notched one more road victory, up to five road wins now.

Players have taken turns owning it, saying the right things. And Wednesday it was winger Marian Gaborik's turn.

The playoff savior of 2014 has 15 goals and 27 points this season. He has scored five goals and eight points on the road, recording one point (an assist) in the last four Kings' road games.

"Everybody [should] be on the same page, playing the system, playing 60 minutes and play every shift like we can," Gaborik said. "We haven't done that lately. We have to do that. We have to be more consistent and just play like we can.

"We know how to do that. We just have to translate it onto the ice."

Could hitting a crisis point like the Washington game be the jolt the Kings needed?

"We can't let it happen to this point where we have a game like that, especially in the position we are in right now," Gaborik said. "We need every point. We need wins, especially on the road. We need to turn it around. Everybody in here has to produce, myself. We need to be better."

Said defenseman Matt Greene: "We're down to crunch time. There's no waiting around anymore, waiting for things to get going, waiting for guys to find their game."

Two of the Kings' better games in the second half came after short breaks. They beat the Sharks following the Christmas vacation and rallied three times from one-goal deficits to defeat the Blackhawks at Staples Center after the All-Star break.

Their championship pedigree has surfaced. But not consistently.

"It's not mystifying," Greene said. "It's frustrating. It's frustrating because we know we can play a lot better. As a team we can play a lot better. We've shown that. This season. Past seasons and as recently as the Chicago game. Now it's up to us to do it on a nightly basis."

KINGS AT FLORIDA

When: 4:30 PST.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.

Etc.: One of the few optimistic pieces of news around the Kings has been the rehabilitation of left wing Tanner Pearson, who broke his leg Jan. 10 and required surgery. Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said Pearson, who is on the trip, is making good progress.

Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa

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