It is apparent that the Los Angeles Kings cannot score. Seriously, read ANY article written about the Kings in the last seven days and it will tell you the same. This is a given. But there is something slightly more disturbing surrounding the Kings’ style of play… this defensive-minded team, has no defense.
You cannot exactly pin-point the Kings’ recent slump to an exact game, so let us start by looking at the last ten games. Coincidentally, it has been 10 games since the Kings’ traded goalie Ben Scrivens to Edmonton for a third round pick. Hmm, maybe that was it? The hockey gods are punishing LA! Probably not, but I digress, the point is that Los Angeles has bad offense and arguably, their defense is just as horrible.
The Kings have scored just 13 goals in ten games (1.3 goals per game), but even worse is the fact that they have given up 26 goals in that time (2.6 goals per game), yet somehow in the midst of this slump, LA has maintained the best goals against average in the NHL with 2.1 (which has risen a little with their recent play). What the hell, man? How is one of the toughest defenses in professional hockey doing so poorly in stopping the opposition as of late?
You are not going to like this, but the defense, like the offense, is in a slump. Here are the typical pairings for LA’s defense:
Drew Doughty-Jake Muzzin
Slava Voynov-Robyn Regehr
Willie Mitchell-Matt Greene
Doughty and Voynov have had no drop-off from last season. If anything, it seems as if they are picking up some of the slack. Statistically, they are doing fine. Doughty is fifth on the list for most points and Voynov is seventh. Not bad for D-men, but they are not on the same line together.
Muzzin, who has the third most points amongst Kings’ defensemen, can really affect the game, but if you look closely, he is often out of place, out hustled and sometimes it appears he his out of mind with some of the plays he tries to make.
Regehr is a guy that will give a big hit and can make a play for LA, but that is it. Mitchell tends to get it done at times, but he no spring chicken. Greene, well, he just cannot stay off of IR long enough to do any real damage. Hopefully it is not that the Kings are trying to rush him back, but he does not look like the same old Greener. At least not right now.
And then there is the limited use of Alec Martinez. What gives? He has the energy and the fight to help anchor the defense, but he just cannot seem to get in the game. And even when does, it is for a short period of time. He is averaging 14:51 of ice time, the least of all Kings defenders.
Now I am not saying he is the answer, but a swapping him in and out for Regehr, Mitchell and Greene more often might just give the Kings the spark to get their offense going.
But here is the thing about the defense… it is not their fault. At least not all of it.
Being unable to keep the puck in the offensive zone is killing the Kings on both ends. It does not help a defenseman that just got into the attacking zone to quickly exit and hustle back to help guard their own net. And then to do it over and over and over. It kills.
Still, this is just one of many problems the Kings have to figure out, but lucky enough, they do get a break. There are two games left before Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick and Slave Voynov will represent their countries in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Maybe in that time, the rest of the Kings figure out how to right the ship. It seems like perfect timing.