The Los Angeles Kings stink. Everyone knows this.
The team at least hung in against the Pittsburgh Penguins to force overtime on Saturday, but they dropped the decision 4-3 and lurched to the bottom of the entire league. They’re 11-20-3, a point behind the dismal Blackhawks to bring up the rear in the Western Conference. The Blues are three points up on the Kings and have been making headlines lately for a presumed fire sale to come.
But what about Los Angeles? Is there a little house-cleaning in order?
If they’re smart, there better be.
The Kings have scored just 75 goals this season, counting the three Saturday. The Blues, despite stinking up the joint, have scored 86. The Windy City has 96. Even the Hurricanes, who can’t buy goals but somehow manage to win, have 81 goals. And the Flyers, the worst team in the East right now, have 93 goals.
Luckily – and this is a slim compliment – the Kings aren’t as leaky as the Blackhawks. But their lack of offensive anything makes them close enough in the goal differential to be really, really awkward.
Also, the power play stinks. The penalty kill stinks. Possession stinks. And so forth.
So again, is a little house-cleaning in order for the Kings?
Nothing else will work at this point. They’ve done the coaching change bingo. They’ve done the tough talk, the patient talk, the other talk.
But the plain reality is that the team that won it all twice in three seasons – and less than five years ago – is not a team that can win it all right now.
Granted, when the Kings sealed Drew Doughty into his eight-year deal it was a known thing that this wasn’t a rebuilding team. The defenceman may not have locked in for as long had the extension come with a pledge of not, you know, winning very much.
The good news is that the Kings have playable, feasible assets. They have that little thing called “experience” and that comes in more than handy when the playoffs loom. Some curious, disadvantaged team will come sniffing around for some of Los Angeles’ vets and that’s when the doors can open and possibilities can emerge once more.
Jeff Carter. Tyler Toffoli. Jake Muzzin.
Those are just three conceivable names the Kings can ship to some auspicious squad. And in return, they can get some value because Carter, Toffoli and Muzzin can contribute and bring home the proverbial bacon.
The point is that this problem, like all problems, is fixable. There is a palpable, demonstrated remedy that requires a shifting of philosophies, a rebuff of what worked in the past and a renewal of priorities.
Does that mean this season could have a silver lining with a little smart work in the front office? Sure, why not? Some teams are only a move or two away from restoration and restitution. The Kings’ problems may not be as endemic as we think.