It isn't difficult to see that the Kings soon could be making some personnel changes when you consider a few statistics:
--The Mighty Ducks, with their four road victories, have twice as many as the Kings.
--San Jose has narrowed the gap in the Pacific Division, pulling within two points of the Kings.
--The Ducks are visible in the rear-view mirror, four points behind the Kings. In the Western Conference, the Kings (9-10-2) are resting in seventh place.
King General Manager Nick Beverley, having seen enough in St. Louis and Dallas, returned home and will begin a seven- to 10-day trip after Thanksgiving, talking to his NHL counterparts. After the Dallas game, he expressed his displeasure with the team's play, echoing his comments of last month.
"I'm really disappointed in a lot of guys," he said. "They generated a lot of respect (in the playoffs) from everybody around the league, collectively. And it's just eroding."
Coach Barry Melrose has said the bad players are weeding themselves out, but Beverley all but ruled out a massive shake-up.
"We can't make wholesale changes," he said. "We don't have that much depth. Part of the idea is to get these people performing. And heaven knows, (Melrose) is trying."
To that end, Beverley backed the decision to bench defenseman Rob Blake for 40 minutes in St. Louis. He said Blake is having the same kind of trouble defenseman Alex Zhitnik was having early in the season and has suggested that Blake might come to the same realization if he watched tapes of his own play.
It concerns Beverley that another free fall like last season's three-month slump would be worse now because of the revised playoff system.
"I don't know how much the players are paying attention," Beverley said. "I don't know if they are waiting for the ax to fall. I've got lots of patience, but everyone's patience is wearing thin. If it takes making some more moves, then that's what it will take."
The first step of goaltender Robb Stauber's conditioning assignment was more like a stumble on Saturday night in Phoenix. Stauber had been out with a shoulder injury and was sent last week to Phoenix. In Saturday's game, he faced two shots and gave up two goals in 1 minute 24 seconds. Phoenix Coach Tim Bothwell pulled him after the second goal, telling reporters afterward that it was the fastest he had ever yanked a goaltender. Rick Knickle came on in relief and Phoenix lost to Las Vegas, 8-6. Knickle's record in Phoenix was 1-6-2 with a 4.89 goals-against average. And Stauber's goals-against average after one appearance? Eighty-three.