There might not be another team in the NHL that needs the All-Star break as much as the Los Angeles Kings. Where do we start with the disjointed defending Stanley Cup champs? For starters, coach Darryl Sutter doesn’t want anymore talk about the Cup. He moved on a long time ago, and he wants everyone else to as well. And it’s about time, because the Kings look like a completely different team than the one that dominated the Rangers back in June. Despite starting out the season with nearly their entire Stanley Cup roster in tact, the Kings took some hits and their back end looks nothing like what it used to. Tough to say whether or not the panic has set in yet since this is a team that typically peaks in the spring, but at the moment, this team is on the outside looking in at the playoff scenario.
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY SportsRobert Stanton
Special Teams tweaks
The power play numbers look strong on paper - 11th the league, 19.3 percent - but it’s a misleading number. There is talent on the power play but the Kings will regularly go long stretches without an extra-man goal. All units have been exceptionally streaky. Anze Kopitar has generated the most offense on the power play but he’s had his own well-documented scoring struggles. On the penalty kill, the Kings are still without the services of Tyler Toffoli (four shorthanded goals) for the time being, but event before Toffoli was diagnoses with Mono, the Kings weren’t exactly killing penalties off at a high rate: L.A. ends the half as the fifth-worst penalty killing team.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsGary A. Vasquez
The Rumor Mill
General manager Dean Lombardi has always been a shrewd executive by making high-risk, high-reward moves (Matt Frattin didn’t pay off but his replacement - Marian Gaborik - is still paying dividends). This seems like the perfect time to make a move that might create a spark, but Lombardi’s hands might be tied given the Slava Voynov situation and there isn’t much room on the cap. However, given Lombardi’s past history at the trade deadline, his name is still likely to be attached to a few rumors, as it is every year.
NHLI via Getty ImagesJuan Ocampo
Toffoli and Pearson’s offense is hard to replicate and probably impossible to replace. So far, Sutter hasn’t exactly been overwhelmed by the offense that fourth-line forwards Jordan Nolan and Andy Andreoff have produced. But he has been high on their linemate, Kyle Clifford, who has upped his level of peskiness on the ice and is consistently frustrating his opposition. Without Toffoli and Pearson, glue guys like Clifford and Dwight King will take on increasingly larger roles. Offensive production during regulation has been at very typical L.A. King-like levels, but generation in any situation after the third period has been nearly non-existent. Given their two overtime wins and one shootout win, Sutter may be motivated to mix things up. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even see Matt Greene in a shootout.