With the Olympic break fast approaching, the Los Angeles Kings are trending in the wrong direction.
There is no shortage of questions or concerns in Los Angeles. The most important being the lack of offense.
With that in mind, here are the five biggest questions for L.A. heading into the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
Jonathan Quick wasn't at his best in the lockout-shortened campaign of 2012-13 and he's had an up-and-down injury-filled season in 2013-14.
With Ben Scrivens traded the pressure once again falls on Quick, who we know is capable of brilliance. And, for the Kings to have a shot at another Stanley Cup, they will need nothing less than brilliant goaltending.
Quick is 15-13-2 with a .909 save percentage, 2.22 goals-against average and three shutouts. Those are solid numbers for most, but not the American Olympian.
If Quick can get his save percentage closer to .920 and his GAA down around 2.00, the Kings' Stanley Cup odds will improve greatly.
The Kings are 29th in the NHL in scoring, ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres. They've scored only five goals in their past six games. Their power play is providing little help as it ranks 28th in the league with a 14 percent success rate.
The Kings don't need to score a lot, but they can't rely on Jonathan Quick or Martin Jones to pitch a shutout every other game.
Getting pucks on net isn't an issue as the Kings average more than 30 shots per game. Instead, they must work to get more quality chances at even strength and on the power play. Getting bodies to the front of the net, generating shots from the point and setting up Jeff Carter in the slot are things the Kings need to work on.
The Kings need offense and Dustin Brown is capable of producing each and every night. Brown put up 20 points in 20 playoff games in 2011-12 and was in contention for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
But since that Stanley Cup win Brown’s production has declined significantly. It's been 11 games since he scored a goal and 20 since he recorded an assist. He's been healthy for the majority of the season, but has just 16 points in 57 games.
The captain must step up and have more than just a physical impact. If nothing else, he should put up more points on the power play where he’s averaging more than two minutes per game.
The Kings' defense is the best in the league. They can afford to give up a player, a prospect, draft picks or some combination of those to obtain a top-six forward.
The Olympic trade freeze is Feb. 7 and the trade deadline is March 5.
According to the CBC's Elliotte Friedman, (via David Staples of the Edmonton Journal) the Kings have shown interest in Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers. Meanwhile, according to NHL.com, Thomas Vanek rejected a seven-year, $50 million deal from the New York Islanders. Meaning he should be available as he's set to become a free agent in the offseason.
Obviously both forwards are highly-skilled offensive stars who could alter the Kings' offense. But, at what price?
It is not time to panic, yet. The Kings are a veteran team fresh off back-to-back trips to the conference final. They won the Stanley Cup as the No. 8 seed, and as the No. 5 seed last season they fell to the eventual champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.
However, they were expected to compete for the Pacific Division title this season, but 58 games in they find themselves 19 points behind the Anaheim Ducks.
Can the Kings make another deep run without home ice?
It will be tougher than ever given how strong the Ducks, Blackhawks and Blues are, not to mention how difficult it is to make a third consecutive deep playoff run in today’s NHL. Just ask the Red Wings and Penguins.