L.A. Kings: Who Needs to Step Up, the Big Stars or the Supporting Cast?
For the 9th time this season, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick suffered a loss while giving up just one goal. For the 22nd time in 2011/2012, the Los Angeles Kings scored one or fewer goals.
And for the 20th time this season the Kings put one in the L column. This time at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes, 1-0.
The upcoming schedule gets no easier for the impotent Kings; Three games against the Predators and Sharks, two games against the Red Wings, Blackhawks, Flames, and one against the Blues, Canucks, Bruins, Avalanche and Coyotes.
It's crunch time.
And a lot of Kings fans are asking themselves night after night, while pounding that bottle of Maalox, why is this happening? Where is this team going wrong?
We brought in the players, we changed coaches. So why aren't we getting this done?
Well I ask you, the reader, the same questions. Some people want to blame the big stars, others the management, others the supporting cast.
And in all honesty and realism, it's everything combined. But where does it really fall apart?
The Big Stars:
Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson.
Many refer to this as "the core" for the L.A. Kings. Between the six of them they equate for 68 goals.
How do they compare to other teams top players?
Let's take the Rangers, for example, who are 12th in goals per game.
Ryan Callahan, Marion Gaborik, Brad Richards, Brandon Dubinsky, Michael Del Zotto, and let's give Ryan McDonagh a nod here. (Stepan you could argue is a core guy, but I think the other four forwards are more so the big stars.)
How about the high powered Chicago Blackhawks?
Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp.
The Kings' number is low. There are many variables here that do however need to be taken into consideration like system, schedule, and coaching.
Of course you would want to see that number, 68, be much higher. And honestly Brown, Doughty and Richards are off pace for goal totals by anywhere from 10-20 goals. Which is understandable from any player in any given season. Off years will happen. Bump that Kings number up by 15 goals and they have 83.
Those players are also a combined +1. (And If Jack Johnson was not among them: +11. Ouch, Jack.)
This is the everyone else category. All, relatively consistent starters as it currently stands (Simon Gagne is excluded due to long term injury, as well as shut down defensemen as you don't expect goals from them.)
Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis, Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll, Trent Hunter, Andrei Loktionov, Colin Fraser, Alec Martinez, Slava Voynov.
Those nine players total 29 goals and are a -30.
I really don't need to say much more.
Maybe the most easily blamable group from a fan's standpoint, because we all think we could do better.
This offseason, Dean Lombardi made a highly publicized trade for Mike Richards, signed Simon Gagne, and dealt an unhappy Ryan Smyth to Edmonton for Colin Fraser. The latter, a situation that was a bit of a no win for the Kings GM.
He has also recently extended Justin Williams, and Jack Johnson.
When the Kings needed scoring, he traded for Dustin Penner at the deadline last year, a trade which at the time was widely considered an excellent deal.
When the team floundered in December, he fired coach Terry Murray and brought in the similar style of Darryl Sutter.
He has failed however to bring the likes of Brad Richards and Ilya Kovalchuk in offseason free agency in the last two years, despite making a big effort for both.
I think it's easily a group effort at this point, but for the most part this is a six man show in L.A. Seven if you count Quick.
There is nothing going on in the bottom lines and it's killing them. Maybe Lombardi should be making more solid depth acquisitions rather than worrying about the Rick Nashs of this world. Because 29 goals and a -30 from nine players isn't cutting it for me.
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