The game-within-the-game is costing the Kings plenty of games.
Their power play and penalty killing are sagging heavily at the same time, and it bit them again in a 2-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes that couldn’t be prevented by a strong even-strength push and six-on-five advantage.
They allowed a shorthanded goal and a power-play goal, and took their sixth loss in the past seven home games. There’s no end in sight after game No.28, but let’s further assess Tuesday’s loss.
Here’s what we learned:
Maybe it’s time to change the lines. Brendan Leipsic is a left wing and has a history of scoring. He was a 120-point player in his junior hockey days and a 20-goal scorer in the American Hockey League. After the Kings’ 10th game scoring one or zero goals, it might not hurt try him on the second line with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli.
Interim coach Willie Desjardins has had Kyle Clifford in that slot and the result has been some good scoring chances but hardly enough goals. At this point, why not?
The second power-play unit remains a curious project. It’s been a disparately comprised group that Desjardins has put together: Tyler Toffoli, Nate Thompson, Matt Luff, Adrian Kempe and Dion Phaneuf.
It’s one thing for them not to score, but they allowed a shorthanded goal, albeit to the league’s best penalty kill. Arizona’s Lawson Crouse broke-in on goal in a transition play that shouldn’t be that easy. The Coyotes have 11 goals shorthanded, and it exploited the Kings’ ailing special teams.
Drew Doughty brought his game. Doughty announced himself with a hip check that bent Nick Cousins over the bench shortly after puck drop. He broke up a two-on-one after partner Derek Forbort lost the puck and he put another big hit on Mario Kempe in the second period.
As a team leader who puts tremendous pressure on himself, Doughty’s defensive game was in order. He played a game-high 29 minutes, 11 seconds.