Perhaps this should be what we have (re)learned. It’s been clear for about the last decade that games in Buffalo represent an odd and tough challenge for the Kings. Nevertheless, there were some takeaways after a less-than-memorable contest on Tuesday night.
Things change quickly in the NHL
It wasn’t that long ago that the Sabres came to Los Angeles -- Oct. 23 -- and were being regarded like the NHL version of basketball’s Philadelphia 76ers.
Then they had one win and six losses, and defeat No. 7 came at Staples Center as they failed to score against the Kings in a 2-0 loss.
And now? The victory against the Kings was their 10th win of the season. They’ve recorded four wins in their last six games, a reason to celebrate, except for the fans who want the No. 1 draft pick in June.
Kings forward Jordan Nolan pointed out after the morning skate how much better the Sabres were playing. Perhaps many of his teammates didn’t get the memo on Tuesday.
Kopitar has plenty of company
Unfortunately, Kings center Anze Kopitar is at the top of the list when talk turns to the struggling forwards. That makes sense because he led the Kings in scoring the last seven seasons.
But there are plenty of other passengers on the Mystery Express.
Kopitar hasn’t scored in 10 games. But Jeff Carter’s absence from the scoring sheet is nearly as mysterious. He has scored one goal since Nov. 8 and has not recorded a point in the last six games.
He was named player of the week when the Kings were on their last five-game trip, starting in late October, and the honor seems to have jinxed him.
Move over, Sports Illustrated.
Time for a phone call to Manchester
He hasn’t been the only front-office executive to spend time with the surging Monarchs. The timing of their success and the Kings’ struggles has not been lost on the front office.
After the Kings’ loss to the Sabres, Lombardi, who was not in Buffalo, made a point of noting the “hunger” displayed by the eager minor leaguers. You get the sense he would relish making a move or two.
The Kings, however, don’t have a lot of options because of the salary cap and waiver rules. And, well, you can’t send five players to Manchester for “conditioning” assignments at the same time.