The Kings dropped to 37-34-7 on the season, good for fifth in the Pacific Division.
Los Angeles was in a tough position before the loss, requiring the Nashville Predators to lose against the St. Louis Blues. They did just that, but managed to clinch anyway with the Kings’ loss. And the 29-41-9 Coyotes got to play spoilers.
The Kings needed to win each of their final five games to make the post-season, plus they needed Nashville to lose each of its last three games in regulation.
It was not to be.
“We knew what the situation was last few games,” said Kings forward Anze Kopitar. “We gave it our all, it wasn’t good enough.”
Offence was one of many issues for Los Angeles this season, as the club struggled to come up with more than two goals in nine out of their last 11 games. They had trouble challenging Arizona netminder Mike Smith on Sunday, too, and their single goal came on a dump-in attempt.
Los Angeles has scored just 188 goals this season, with only the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche coming up with less offence in the Western Conference. They’ve managed to stay in games thanks to some top-shelf goaltending, with just 188 goals against.
Jeff Carter has led the way in scoring, coming up with 32 goals and a total of 62 points in 78 games. Kopitar has 49 points in 72 games, but just a dozen goals. And Tanner Pearson has 23 goals for a total of 42 points in 76 games. Only Carter and Pearson have reached the 20-goal mark, while just seven players have double-digit goal totals.
Kopitar, in particular, has been often disappointing. He had 25 goals last season for a total of 74 points in 81 games. Luckily, his power play stats have remained in check.
But change is in the wind for the Kings, who’ve won just one playoff game in their last three seasons and failed to make the post-season in 2015 as well.
That change will likely start behind the bench, with Darryl Sutter either getting the boot or calling it a day. There are reputable rumours to support both possibilities and it does seem like a shakeup behind the bench would be in the team’s best interest.
The Kings are also one of the oldest teams in the NHL. They’re also one of the heaviest. It may seem inconsequential, but the game is faster and lighter than it has been and many of the most successful clubs are trending younger. There’s still a place for grizzled veterans and big guys, of course, but it may benefit Los Angeles to start taking another look at things.
For now, there’s a lot to unpack about another season gone wrong. There are clear issues to address and clear actions to take. When the season finally comes to a close, the Kings will start the long road back to respectability.