Old ways to lose. New ways to lose. Three games into a five-game trip is starting to feel more like 13 for the faltering Kings. A few takeaways from a another road loss, this one coming to the Panthers on Thursday night at Sunrise, Fla.
Mental mistakes increasing
The giveaways and the turnovers at crucial times are starting to pile up. There was defenseman Jake Muzzin’s gaffe on the game-tying goal and forward Tyler Toffoli’s turnover on the game-winner.
Physical battles were lost. But how many of the issues are becoming mental ones?
“A lot of time, mistakes are mental, sometimes they are physical,” Kings center Jarret Stoll said, speaking generally. “Sometimes a missed focus, maybe.
“It’s a tough break, again. A tough loss. We’ve got to move on.”
Defensive woes revisited
Think of the defense as a house of cards. One card was pulled out -- in this case, defenseman Willie Mitchell, who went to Florida via free agency. (Mitchell, by the way, was not in the lineup against the Kings, having suffered an unspecified injury against the Islanders on Tuesday.)
Another card was defenseman Slava Voynov, who awaits trial, next month, on a felony domestic violence charge. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
It held together – well, sort of – and at the Christmas break the Kings were still in a playoff spot. But the expanded roles have taken a toll on the remaining defensemen. They simply can’t keep riding on Drew Doughty’s heavy minutes. Doughty logged nearly 30 minutes of ice time against the Panthers.
The gap between Doughty’s ice time and the rest was particularly startling on Thursday. Muzzin was next at almost 21 minutes.
Road less traveled
Five road wins, still.
The Kings are 0-3 on this trip with games coming up in Tampa (Saturday) and Columbus (Monday) and are 5-12-6 on the road overall.
Last season, they recorded their sixth road win by Nov. 15 at New Jersey. For some historical perspective: In 1995-96, the Kings finished with a mere eight road wins in what was Wayne Gretzky’s final season with the Kings.
In other words, not the good old days.