Kings Coach Darryl Sutter started the week by calling his team “a good middle-of-the-pack team…it’s a real fair evaluation of our group.”
That group spent the last three days trying to prove their coach right, dropping back-to-back games to the St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes – the latter in a franchise-record 11-round shootout – to leave their playoff hopes seriously wounded.
Here are a few more takeaways from Tuesday’s loss to the last-place Coyotes:
1. Kings aren’t exactly home at Staples Center
The team’s seven-game, 14-day homestand was supposed to be the spark that ignited a playoff push. Instead the Kings are 3-2-1 heading into Thursday’s game with the Buffalo Sabres. And they needed overtime for two of those wins.
“We let one slip here,” said forward Tyler Toffoli, who twice scored to give the Kings one-goal leads they gave away. “We’ve just got to tighten up and find a way to bear down and lock it down, and we let one slip.
“We need to win every game. We need to get rolling here and find a way to bear down and get two points in all these games coming up.”
The loss left the Kings 19-13-2 at home this season. And if you combine the team’s regulation and overtimes losses, the Kings have lost three more games than they’ve won this season.
2. The playoff math doesn’t add up
After earning just one point Tuesday, the Kings now trail the Blues by four points in the wild-card race and St. Louis, with 14 games to play, has one game in hand. That leaves the Kings needing to make up a point a week over the rest of the schedule, a tough chore given that St. Louis has one of the easiest schedules down the stretch while the Kings have nine games with playoff teams.
“We’ve just got to fight through it, look at the positive,” said goalie Ben Bishop, who hasn’t won a game since coming over from Tampa Bay in a trade last month. “We got a point. It’s better than zero, and we’d like to [get two], but you’ve got to look at the positive right now.”
3. Wasted opportunities cost the Kings dearly
Forget the shootout, in which the Kings scored just once. Forget the two power plays they were unable to take advantage of or the 46 shots on goal they had.
The most painful takeaway from Tuesday’s loss is the fact the Kings twice let one-goal leads get away, the second time with 45 seconds left in regulation, just seconds after a wide shot at an empty net resulted in an icing call instead, bringing the puck back up the ice for the faceoff that led to the tying goal.
Said Sutter: “Every loss is tough. This one was tougher than any other one.”