The first game between the Kings and Ducks this season, to be played Monday at the Honda Center, catches both on a downswing.
The Kings, who have lost six of their last seven games, can’t score goals. They’ve produced four in their last three games, including Anze Kopitar’s five-on-three goal Saturday in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
On Sunday they practiced odd-man rushes and getting pucks to the net from the blue line. “You do it enough the fire will start,” Coach Terry Murray said. “The wood’s a little wet right now but the fire will start.”
The Ducks, also losers in six of their last seven, can’t keep goals out of their net. They’ve allowed four in each of their last four games and overall have yielded 13 more than they’ve scored.
“We’ve gotten away from some of our staples,” Coach Randy Carlyle said. “When we went on [a] winning streak, we found ways to get points when we weren’t playing that well. Then, the pendulum swings the other way, and you outplay and outshoot opponents and don’t get the necessary results.”
The Ducks figure to get a lift from the return of right wing Teemu Selanne, who had eight goals and 22 points before a groin strain kept him out of three games. “I don’t know about you guys but … I feel good,” he told reporters Sunday. “I’m counting myself in.”
Selanne said the Ducks, 5-2-0 against Pacific Division foes, are focused on winning division games after compiling a 7-13-4 division record last season. “That’s everything. If you can’t compete against your own division, you don’t deserve to be in the playoffs,” he said.
The Kings, whose woes have been complicated by their fumble-fingered defense, held a long meeting before they practiced Sunday in El Segundo. “It was a little hard and I want to see how the response is,” Murray said. “There were some demands and some of the review of the clips highlighted a lot of the players in not getting done what needs to be done in order to win games in this league.”
Defenseman Jack Johnson stands out for his minus-11 defensive rating the last seven games but Murray said he’s not the only culprit. “It’s everyone that’s in the same area right now,” Murray said. “It’s very gray and I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the puck when I see it in certain parts of the ice. If we clean that up we can become a good team again.”
Johnson acknowledged the team is turning the puck over too often and not scoring enough. “It seems like every team goes through a spurt during the year when things aren’t going well,” he said. “Hopefully we can get it out of the way early.”
Kings prospect Brayden Schenn completed a conditioning assignment with Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League with three goals, seven points and a plus-3 rating in seven games. He’s scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Monday and practice with the Kings on Tuesday. … Ducks winger Joffrey Lupul, recovering from a post-surgical infection, scored the winner Sunday for Syracuse of the AHL, his first goal in a year. “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves but it’s encouraging news,” Carlyle said.
Kings enforcer Kevin Westgarth wore a shield Sunday to protect his nose, broken when he lost a fight to Chicago’s John Scott on Saturday. “I think for realsies that was the first one,” he said. “It’s nice and flat anyway. I’m sure it’s been broken and I never really noticed.”