What we learned from the Kings’ 5-4 loss at Dallas on Saturday:
We learned that they’re not winning on the road
Duh ... they’re 1-4-3 away from Staples Center. Their only road victory was a 3-1 decision at Dallas on Nov. 4. Pretty obvious that they’re not tearing it up away from home, eh? But why? And are they worried that they’re not winning on the road?
“It’s frustrating,” center Mike Richards said Saturday, after the Kings nearly came back from a 4-0 deficit. “I think it’s just one of those things where you get more comfortable playing on the road. We’re used to playing at Staples and having the crowd behind us. I think when you’re on the road you’ve got to create your own momentum, and I think that’s what we’ve got to start doing.”
There’s an idea. They were terrible in the first period on Saturday, picked up steam in the second period and were OK in the third, but they’re still only two for 26 on the power play on the road this season. Dallas’ power play was two for six against them Saturday.
“Our power play is not going to win or lose us games,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. “Our power play gave us a chance in the third. I thought our penalty killing was not as good as our power play.”
They’re still playing Drew Doughty a lot -- maybe too much
Doughty played 33 minutes and seven seconds Saturday, a season-high. Doughty, 24, has said he loves playing a lot of minutes, but Sutter doesn’t want him to carry that big a burden every game. The problem is that Doughty is his best defenseman by a large margin and Sutter feels compelled to play him a lot. It’s hard to blame Sutter. Doughty’s average ice time is now 28:58 per game, second in the NHL only to the 29:19 averaged by Minnesota’s Ryan Suter.
Sutter played Jamie McBain only 10:10 on Saturday. Now that the Kings have some salary-cap flexibility with suspended defenseman Slava Voynov on long-term injury status, might they use that cap space to make a move on defense? Sutter said Saturday morning that defenseman Alec Martinez (finger surgery) is still a ways from returning and isn’t day-to-day.
Dallas Stars might be a pretty good team
They’ve reconfigured their defense since the season began, trading Sergei Gonchar and Brenden Dillon and letting Kevin Connauton go on waivers, while acquiring Jason Demers and promoting John Klingberg from their top farm team. They’ve got plenty of scoring potential up front; General Manager Jim Nill said their problem had been getting the puck up to those forwards. They might have found a solution to that problem.
Last thing we learned: There are earthquakes in Texas too
The two Californians in the front row of the press box at the American Airlines Center immediately recognized the shaking during Saturday’s game, but not everyone did. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it was a magnitude 3.3 quake about six miles northwest of Dallas.