What we learned from the Kings’ 5-0 loss at Toronto on Saturday
1) Six-game trips, even those pleasantly interrupted by a two-day visit to a resort as the Kings’ just-completed trip was broken up, are long. Very long. And although Coach Darryl Sutter said a few days ago that he wished the trip would have been one game longer, his players appeared to run out of steam by the end. They put up little resistance in the third period Saturday, when Toronto scored four of its goals.
Though they looked like a tired team, Dustin Brown said that wasn’t the case. “I think that’s probably just an excuse. We get enough rest,” Brown said. “It’s a long trip but every team has long trips.”
It’s understandable they were discouraged after none of their prime scoring chances got past Jonathan Bernier in the first period, but they could have gone to the net harder and otherwise made Bernier’s life more miserable. That could have been mental fatigue more than the physical variety, but either way, they didn’t compete as hard as they should have.
“We didn’t make it hard enough for Bernie in there,” Brown said. “He saw pretty much most of the shots. We had a couple in front, one-on-one with him, that we just didn’t bear down on,”
2) Scoring from the left side has been a problem most of the season and Sutter juggled his lines during Saturday’s game in another futile effort to generate some production from his left wings. That’s an area that General Manager Dean Lombardi might have to address down the road.
Another potential need: a physical defenseman. Matt Greene is out long-term following shoulder surgery and the Kings could use a heavy hitter along the lines of Greene or Robyn Regehr, someone who can move out opposing forwards who try to take up residence in the slot.
3) The Kings have played 16 home games and 16 road games; they’re 9-5-2 on the road and 11-5-0 at home. But the balance will tilt toward road games in the upcoming weeks, with five of their next seven games away from Staples Center. And they’ve got a seven-game trip looming in February.
A lack of success on the road last season contributed to their failure to make the playoffs—they were 15-18-8, for 38 points. In response, they’ve tinkered with their travel plans this season in an effort to minimize the stresses of travel. With 20 road points they’re tied for the seventh-most road points in the NHL this season, but again, they’ve got to keep that going or even get better. Saturday’s shutout loss was only the second time they’ve been blanked this season, the first since a 3-0 loss to Vancouver in the third game of the season.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter: @helenenothelen