The 5 Biggest Letdowns of Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 Season So Far
They sit third in the Pacific Division and sixth overall in the west, with nine games remaining. More importantly, they seem to be peaking at the right time, having won 12 of their past 15 games. The Kings will need to carry that momentum into the playoffs, especially if they face the Anaheim Ducks, a team that's had their number this season.
One of those games versus the Ducks may end up being the Kings' most disappointing showing of the season, given the circumstance.
Find out where it ranks in the Kings' biggest letdowns of the 2013-14 season so far.
5. Matt Frattin
It appeared at the time of the Jonathan Bernier trade that the Kings had acquired at least a third line forward who would add scoring depth and fit well into their system.
At best, it was thought that Matt Frattin could be a top-six forward—and for a while he was. Playing alongside the duo of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, Frattin had little success and ultimately was dropped to the third line, then the fourth line and eventually the press box for a few games.
In 40 games, he recorded six points and a minus-six rating.
The failed experiment ended on March 5 when Frattin was sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets along with some draft picks in exchange for Marian Gaborik.
4. Stadium Series Game
The event itself was not a letdown. Beach volleyball, a roller hockey rink, KISS and Wayne Gretzky made the game something fans and players will never forget.
The Kings' performance however, was something to forget. The Ducks were the quicker team in all three zones and carried the momentum for much of the game, particularly after Jonas Hiller stopped Anze Kopitar's penalty shot attempt late in the first. L.A. peppered Hiller with 36 shots in total, but it was a case of quantity, not quality, as the netminder had an answer for every single one.
So for the second time in just three days the Ducks beat the Kings, this time by a score of 3-0.
3. Mike Richards
Expectations were high heading into the 2013-14 season for Mike Richards and rightly so. The 29-year-old is in the prime of his career and as a dynamic, two-way player and a great leader, he's expected to make an impact each and every game.
However, Richards' offensive output and physical presence have not been anywhere near the level of years past.
He's recorded 11 goals and 30 assists for 41 points on the season and a minus-four rating in 73 games. He also has 64 hits—just six more than he had in 48 games last season—and 19 blocked shots.
If Richards can step up in the postseason and fulfill the second-line role he's capable of—specifically with Jeff Carter on his wing—the Kings offense should look a lot better.
The Kings could be fighting for a spot atop the Pacific Division right now if not for their one major downfall: offense.
The Kings rank 27th in the NHL with 2.38 goals per game and 25th on the power play having scored on just 15.1 percent of their opportunities.
L.A. has the talent and depth up front to average a lot closer to three goals per game. Last season they ranked 10th, with 2.78 goals per game. Players like Dustin Brown—who you will read more about next—and Mike Richards need to step up and provide secondary scoring for the Kings down the stretch and in the postseason.
Fortunately, strong team defense and stellar goaltending have the Kings in the playoffs.
1. Dustin Brown
Dustin Brown was hampered early in the season by a hamstring injury. While his physical play quickly picked up as his health improved, the offensive side of Brown's game remained stagnant.
As the season wore on, Brown continued struggling to produce. Now, 70 games in he has registered just 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points. Considering he had 29 points in 46 games last season, this has been a major down year for the captain.
Brown has been an effective power forward in some ways; he ranks ninth in the NHL in hits with 216 and also has 29 takeaways. But, that's not the reason why Dean Lombardi signed him to a eight-year $47 million contract.
If Brown can step it up in the postseason, however, it would make it very easy for fans and management to forget his regular season.