LA Kings: Line changes seem necessary in preparation for Avalanche

LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The first week of the NHL season is in the books. It is certainly within reason to say that the LA Kings were expecting a different outcome in their first battle against Minnesota last week. In both games against the Wild, the Kings managed to let a two-goal lead slip from their fingers in shockingly quick fashion.

It almost seems as if the Kings become complacent when gathering a lead of any kind. Which, after this week’s series, should never even cross their minds again. It’s simple, in a short season of only 56 games, there is no room for complacency this year.

Unfortunately for the men in black, they fell short on both occasions leaving the Kings with just two points instead of the four. On the bright side, the boys still managed to get points under their belt for the team’s first series.

There are worse things to worry about than coming away with some points in the first two games of the season. That is not to say that changes don’t need to be made moving forward.

What’s working so far for the LA Kings

After coming out of the Wild series with a 0-0-2 record, something in the lineup needs altering in one way or another.

Representing the second line right winger position very well this season is veteran Jeff Carter. Carter is returning as royalty to the LA Kings for his tenth consecutive season, and two Stanley Cup rings to show for it. He’s been off to a hot start snatching himself a very respectable four points in the series against the Wild.

On the other wing is the team’s new addition of speed and skill, Andreas Athanasiou.

Athanasiou came over to LA this season on a one-year deal after being traded to Edmonton last season in a deal with the Red Wings. In his first two starts as a King, the new kid on the block has been able to use his pace to his advantage and bury two goals at the Staples Center in his series debut. It would be great to see the chemistry between Carter and “Double-A” continue into the next series, which frankly will be much more of a challenge than Minnesota.

And returning for his fourth season with the LA Kings, we have Alex Iafallo.

Iafallo came off a strong year last year, putting up a solid 43 points in 70 games. It would be nice to see Iafallo once more find his footing on that first line trio moving into the series against the very strong Colorado Avalanche. Although Iafallo has shown to be the weakest link on that line so far by slotting just one assist with a -2 rating, I’m sure he’ll get his confidence back in due time. He’s in a contract year, so there is motivation to perform well aside from the obvious reasons.

What to look for when facing the Avalanche

There’s really no room for any excuses when you drop back-to-back games in overtime to the same team, especially when that team is the Wild, who have been noticeably struggling to stay on their feet the past few seasons. The Wild were also shut out by Anaheim on Monday night, and the Ducks are averaging 1.3 goals-per-game.

That being said, it is imperative that the boys shake off this poorly executed series and mentally shift into the next. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when going up against this year’s Stanley Cup favorite.

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Colorado is currently looking at 13/2 odds to take home the cup in this year’s 56-game season. With an offensive powerhouse like Avalanche, the LA Kings will have to really hone in on the defensive aspect of their gameplay in efforts to try and contain one of the league’s most prestigious first lines.

It’ll be interesting to see what Coach Todd McLellan does about shaking up the lineup before Tuesday night’s matchup, if anything.

“Are we prepared to try and let lines gel and find their way through all of this,” McLellan said after Saturday night’s game. “Or we got to make radical changes and shuffle everything up? I think we’ll go with the first more than the second, just for the sake that we’ve got to get up and running. The offense, again, three goals is enough. The defensive side of it, the stupid plays we’re making walking to the penalty box is hurting us right now, and we can fix that, but we’ve got to make a point of doing it individually and then collectively.”

It pretty much goes without saying that the third and fourth lines for the Kings need to show up and be a relevant piece to the puzzle out there. Combined, the third and fourth lines have a very disappointing 2 points with a scary -8 rating betwixt the six of them.

It doesn’t take an expert NHL scout to recognize that these numbers are alarmingly difficult to work with. When you’re trying to come together collectively as a unit and build chemistry, it is vital for the bottom six forwards to do their part and play their role.

A complete defensive effort for 60 minutes is also in order.

Next. West Division power rankings after Week 1. dark

Only time will tell if the LA Kings are both mentally and physically able to take on the dangerously talented Colorado Avalanche in this week’s West Division showdown.