A surprise non-playoff participant last season, the Los Angeles Kings haven’t remotely resembled a postseason contender through the early stages of this one.
They’ll attempt to regroup and avoid opening with a third straight loss when the Vancouver Canucks visit Staples Center on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles (0-2-0) has been outscored 9-2 in defeats to San Jose and Arizona to begin this five-game homestand. After surrendering five unanswered goals to the Sharks in Wednesday’s opener, the Kings allowed the first four in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Coyotes.
Jonathan Quick has particularly struggled, resulting in the usually steady goaltender being showered with boos during an 18-save effort on Saturday. Poor special teams have been a contributing factor as well, with the Kings 0 for 10 on the power play and permitting two power-play goals against San Jose.
On the positive side, Los Angeles finished with a 41-22 shot advantage against Arizona, and both the Coyotes and Sharks won their subsequent games.
”If you feel better about losing, we played better (Saturday) than the last game,” coach Darryl Sutter said. ”We probably deserved a little better fate.”
The Kings may have another challenge on their hands with Vancouver off to a 2-0-1 start following Monday’s 2-1 victory at Anaheim in which Alexandre Burrows and Radim Vrbata both scored in the shootout.
"We’ve played two teams already that weren’t playoff teams last year, so now we’re playing one (Tuesday) that was. Our game has to be ramped up a little bit," Sutter told the Kings’ official website.
Ryan Miller, back from a knee injury that hampered him throughout the second half of last season, made 28 saves and owns a 1.60 goals-against average through Vancouver’s first three games.
”I’m just trying to go out there and battle and compete. That was my mindset coming off an injury," he said. "That’s what it really comes down to, getting back the focus early on.”
Miller had a 4.24 GAA while allowing seven goals in two losses to Los Angeles last season, however, and could sit in favor of Richard Bachman in the second of a back-to-back.
Bachman, serving as Miller’s backup with Jacob Markstrom sidelined by a hamstring injury, started just four times for Edmonton last season. One came against Los Angeles on April 7, when he recorded 25 saves in a 4-2 win that helped deny the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings a playoff berth.
Los Angeles did go 3-1-1 against the Canucks last season and won four straight at home in the series prior to a 4-1 defeat on March 21. Quick posted a 1.18 GAA and one shutout while starting all five 2014-15 meetings.
Tyler Toffoli, who scored a short-handed goal Saturday, and Anze Kopitar each had two goals and three assists in last season’s series and Marian Gaborik scored three times.
The Kings will remain without Dwight King for an extended period, however, as Sutter announced that the third-line forward had surgery to repair a broken foot and will miss 8 to 10 weeks. King sustained the injury blocking a shot in a preseason game against Colorado on Nov. 3.