Is The Los Angeles Kings Defense In Stanley Cup Mode Yet?


The Kings had a fantastic February that saw improvement on both offense and defense. Los Angeles saw a scoring resurgence with the return of Tyler Toffoli and the emergence of guys like Dwight King (I know, I can’t believe it either). As for the defense, though they’re found some synergy, it is been a tough road traveled and the Kings have weathered many storms and because of that are slowly gutting into playoff mode.

Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles Kings /

Los Angeles Kings

Head Coach Darryl Sutter has had one hell of a time trying to keep some continuity with his defense. He has lost several options throughout the year that had affected the team’s chemistry and production.

First is the obscene situation with Slava Voynov. Because of his “apparent” actions that have landed him in court, the Kings are down at reliable defensemen with post-season experience. So there is that.

Then you have the loss of Alex Martinez who is still recovering from a concussion he sustained on February 8 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The good news, he is back on the ice and preparing for a return in the near future.

Robyn Regher had also gotten back into the mix in mid-January when he was out for over a month with an upper-body injury.

That is a lot hanging over the Kings’ heads, though luckily they stopped the bleeding by using their resources in the Manchester Monarchs (it is a good thing they have an excellent minor league club or this would have been a really long season).

March 5, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb (3) shoots on goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

One of those bright spots is Brayden McNabb has been aces for the Kings in his first year as a pro. In 60 games he has 21 points (1 goal, 19 assists) which makes him third amongst all defenseman. Tuesday at Colorado he continued to impress as he had one goal and two assists. So far, I like what this guy is doing and I am sure Sutter is too.

The Los Angeles Kings defense have also had the services of Jamie McBain, but he has has played a lot less resulting in being less productive (and vice versa) with only nine points in 26 games. The Kings have even had to call up Derek Forbort for some insurance, yet he never actually got to see the ice.

With the depth and youth of the blue liners, LA even made some moves before the trade deadline as general manager Dean Lumbardi acquired Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes. Though it is yet to be seen how he fits in LA’s system, it is good to have another player with experience.

Mar 7, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin (6) is defended by Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Spaling (72) at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In the end, that all sounds like it would be weighed against the Kings but let’s not forget that they have two players that have anchored the defense and have not disappointed. Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin have been the constant on defense and not just stopping the opposition, but helping the offense as they are in the top six of the Kings point getters.

Drew Doughty, as we all know, is an All-Star. I mean come on look at that hair. Playing in all 65 games this season, Doughty has five goals and 33 assists. If anything, Doughty has been in playoff mode all year. As for Muzzin, not only is he having a great experience in his second year in a Kings uniform but producing at a high level as he has 31 points in 59 games.

So right now is the time for Los Angeles defense to get things together and kick it into high-gear (duh, right?). There are 16 games left and LA is 1 point out of a playoff spot. This is the time to expect Los Angeles to tighten the screws and get a proper game plan going for the end of the season. There is still time to do some damage in this league but no time to waste. The Kings need to start shutting down teams NOW.

Mar 1, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty (8) prior to the game against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Next: LA Kings: 4 Roadblocks In The Playoff Push