It would seem difficult to have one of their worst games this late in the season, but the Kings pulled it off Saturday.
They had little explanation for the lack of will in getting the puck, taking care of the puck and delivering pressure like they normally do in a 7-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday at Staples Center.
It’s hard to believe that when the Kings played the Blues on Oct.30, the teams were a combined 18-3-2. The calendar has turned and left the Kings out of a playoff spot following the loss.
Here’s what we learned:
This might spark a lineup change. The Kings have stuck with the same personnel for some time, but was this enough for them to change it up? Defensemen Drew Doughty and Derek Forbort were a combined minus-9 in arguably their worst games of the season. Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson were a combined minus-5.
Kings coach John Stevens isn’t going to bench any regulars, but he does have Andy Andreoff, Tobias Rieder, Kevin Gravel and Paul LaDue at his disposal. With a back-to-back set coming up, Stevens could look to one of them, if only to get through that condensed part of the schedule.
Alex Iafallo got taken off the top line again. For the second straight game, Iafallo was bumped down, away from usual linemates Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Stevens did so against the Washington Capitals because they were having trouble against Washington’s top line — namely Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom — and this appeared to be the case again.
St. Louis reunited the top line of Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn, and by the second period Iafallo was moved to the third line while Tanner Pearson was on the top line. Asked if it was to get Iafallo away from the Blues’ top line, Stevens said, “You guys can make your own conclusions on that one.”
The next two games are crucial. The Kings face the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes on Monday and Tuesday. Those are teams at the bottom of the Pacific Division but they give the Kings fits, and it puts pressure on the Kings to get four points out of that set if they want to stay relevant in the playoff picture.