An in-season entry into a head coaching position is probably never ideal timing, but doing so with your first assignment against the defending Stanley Cup champions sounds especially brutal.
After the dismissal of 2012-13 coach of the year Paul MacLean, that's exactly what promoted assistant coach Dave Cameron faces Thursday night as the Ottawa Senators turn the page against the Los Angeles Kings.
While a switch might help to overcome what general manager Bryan Murray referred to as "uneasiness" in the locker room and a "one-way street" of communication under MacLean, he was quick to point out that there's plenty of correcting to do on the ice.
"We continue to be a big turnover team in our zone," Murray said. "Our goaltending has been, to say the least, outstanding most nights to give us a chance to win hockey games. The chances against our team are, some nights, atrocious. I think there's an obligation for a lot of people, the players included, to perform better than that. But the leader of the pack always is the coach."
The Senators (11-11-5) managed a 4-3 home win over Vancouver in MacLean's finale on Sunday, and then elected to make the move on Monday with three days before their next game.
Mika Zibanejad had two goals and two assists against the Canucks to extend his point streak to four games.
The win followed five straight losses and required Ottawa to recover from a 3-0 deficit, and it'll now try to string together wins for the first time since Nov. 4-6. Those two games ended a 7-3-2 start, and the Senators have since gone 4-8-3 while allowing 3.07 goals per game.
Los Angeles (14-9-5) could actually provide a bit of a respite for the defensive issues. The Kings were shut out by one of the worst teams in hockey in their first stop on a five-game road trip, falling 1-0 in Buffalo on Tuesday.
Los Angeles has totaled eight goals during a 2-3-0 stretch.
"We're not scoring enough," defenseman Drew Doughty told the team's official website. "We're playing well defensively, we're not giving up a lot, but the bottom line is, we need to put pucks in the net."
They've limited opponents to three goals in four games, but defenseman Matt Greene warned against cultivating optimism from such numbers as Los Angeles fell to 3-5-4 on the road.
"It's still a ways off from how we need to play if we want to get our game going and play the way we can," Greene said. "That's it. There's no positives."
Los Angeles will face Craig Anderson, who ended a personal six-game losing streak with a 30-save effort against the Canucks. Anderson is 1-5-1 with a 3.16 goals-against average after a 5-2-3 start with a 2.05 GAA.
While some of that shift might fairly be attributed to the defensive-zone struggles outlined by Murray, some could also fall on Anderson, who had a .942 save percentage in his first 10 games that's fallen to .906 in his last seven.
Anderson is 1-6-4 with a 3.95 GAA in 12 starts against the Kings.
He may not have much margin for error whether he faces Jonathan Quick or Martin Jones. Jones has shutouts in his last two starts, while Quick is 1-2-0 with a 1.01 GAA in three starts this month.
Quick is 4-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA against the Senators, which mirrors recent history in the series. Los Angeles has won nine of 11, including a two-game sweep a season ago.
Kings center Jeff Carter, who has gone six games without a point for the second time this season, totaled three goals and three assists in the two meetings. He's never gone pointless in seven straight in a single season.