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Kings' lack of scoring is becoming a hairy situation as they hit road to play Canucks

Kings' lack of scoring is becoming a hairy situation as they hit road to play Canucks
Kings right wing Marian Gaborik in action against the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 5, 2017. (Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)

Hair is a popular topic for the Kings lately, both for those who have a lot of it and those who no longer do.

Marian Gaborik falls into the latter category because he recently shaved his hair close on the sides, leaving just a main swath on top. He doesn’t usually wear it that short, but it’s mainly for low maintenance.

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“There’s nothing I can do with my hair,” Gaborik said. “[It’s so] I don’t have to worry about it.”

Gaborik could laugh about it, but at the same time he knows that his recent dearth of production is not humorous. Gaborik scored five goals in his first 11 games upon returning from a knee procedure. He has since scored twice in 14 games, one of which was credited to him on a trace deflection.

The lack of goals has become glaring as the Kings try to pull out of a losing dip before the All-Star break.

“Of course, I’ve got to contribute, especially [since] we’ve been on a slide here,” Gaborik said. “We’ve got to turn this around, and I’m a part of it. I need to contribute. I need to have a good all-around game.”

At the beginning of this month, Gaborik went through a three-game stretch in which he registered one shot. He did have several chances in a recent game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Kings coach John Stevens said that was a good sign for the veteran winger.

“I’d be more concerned if he wasn’t getting chances,” Stevens said.

Stevens lately has had Gaborik in a bottom-six role, where minutes are scarce outside of power-play time. Gaborik isn’t making any excuses because he hasn’t really made a case to be elsewhere.

“Well, obviously you want get as much ice time as you can to get you in better rhythm and better flow,” Gaborik said. “[But] it doesn’t matter; whoever I play with, as long as I’m on the ice, I’ve got to make the best out of it and just do my job.”

Sunday’s win to end six straight losses allowed Gaborik and the Kings to release some pressure and even muse at Adrian Kempe’s fight with Brendan Smith of the New York Rangers. Kempe moved his long hair out of the way during the fight in a moment that quickly made its way around social media.

“I couldn’t see him for a bit there so I had to do something,” Kempe said.

Kempe fought once before in Sweden but not in the minors or the NHL until Sunday. It was noted by his teammates that Kempe, nicknamed “Juice,” stepped forward.

“I think it got us really emotionally involved and set the tone for the rest of the game,” Trevor Lewis said. “Especially a guy like Juice, who doesn’t do it very often. He did a good job, and obviously his hair got in his way a little bit. He did a good job to flip it out of there. It was pretty funny.”

AT VANCOUVER

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When: Tuesday, 7 p.m. PST.

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Update: The Kings traded minor league goaltender Jeff Zatkoff to the Columbus Blue Jackets for future considerations. Zatkoff played in 13 games for the Kings last season. Vancouver center Bo Horvat returned Sunday from a broken foot that kept him out of the previous 18 games.

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