The Kings were on a giddy high a week ago, coming off a franchise first, a 6-0 homestand. And now? They are still searching for their first road win of the season, exploring the low end of the emotional spectrum, losing to unheralded Carolina.
A few takeaways in the aftermath of a very tough week on the road.
Paging the ‘70s Line
Well-deserved praise was bestowed upon the Kings’ hugely impressive line, Tanner Pearson-Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli, before the Kings hit the road. Some network types in Canada were calling them the best line in hockey.
But Toffoli has been the only member of the line to produce offense on this trip. He had a shorthanded goal against Detroit on Friday night and another shorthanded effort earlier at Philadelphia.
Pearson, who had seven goals and two assists in the first eight games, is without a point on this four-game trip. Carter, similarly, has hit a dry spell with no points in the last four games since he was named the league’s No. 1 star last week.
Should we call this the NHL Player of the Week jinx?
With the Kings on the road, the home team gets the last change, meaning Pearson-Carter-Toffoli are often facing the other team’s top line and best defensive pair. Plus with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik missing the first three games of the trip, it enabled other teams to devote a singular focus on Carter and the kids.
Scoring droughts throughout the lineup
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter noted that the scoring woes aren’t limited to a few individuals.
They did not get a goal from a defenseman until Friday, Game No. 11, at Detroit when Alec Martinez scored. He scored again on Sunday and has more goals than the likes of captain Dustin Brown (one), forward Justin Williams (one), center Jarret Stoll (zero), Dwight King (one), Kyle Clifford (zero) and as many goals as centers Kopitar (two) and Mike Richards (two).
“I’m getting good chances,” said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who has no goals and six assists, prior to the game at Carolina. “Most of my chances are from the blue line, which makes it tough to score from there if you don’t have a screen.
“We’ll be doing a better job of getting guys to the net for screens and tips. From the defense, we can do a better job of getting pucks through too. We’re getting a lot blocked.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to win hockey games, regardless of how is scoring. It’s about winning games right now.”
Gaborik, Kopitar getting rid of the rust
Kopitar and Gaborik came back to the lineup on Sunday and it’s going to take time, particularly for Gaborik to get his timing back. He has played four games this season, three before re-aggravating an upper-body injury.
Gaborik played 13 minutes, 49 seconds against the Hurricanes and had one shot on goal. His power-play time was limited to 48 seconds and that will obviously change as he regains his fitness.
Kopitar was his usual reliable self, winning 13 of 19 faceoffs, and logged nearly 20 minutes of ice time, including 3:35 on the power play and 3:28 killing penalties.