Alec Martinez has a concussion.
Sure, Darryl Sutter's comments to Lisa Dillman can avoid saying that flat out, but yeah, he has a concussion. Dillman added today that Martinez was sent home yesterday, eliminating any chance he will be in the lineup against Columbus. So as we've done with Jake Muzzin and Robyn Regehr (and Martinez once already), we're left to figure out just how badly a missing defenseman will hurt the Kings.
The good news? LA got four wins and nine points out of seven games the last time Martinez missed time due to injury. That was in the second half of November. Any chance of a repeat performance this time around? Let's see who LA has to face to find this out.
Here's the upcoming schedule, along with each team's goals per game and CF% at even strength.
Kings' Upcoming Schedule: February 9-28
|DATE||TEAM||GOALS/GM||RANK||EV CORSI FOR %||RANK|
So, it could be worse. The Kings' next two games are against two teams which struggle mightily to drive possession, though Calgary (as we know) finds ways to score in spite of their brutal possession stats. (They are the reverse Kings in that regard; LA's goals/gm rank is 19 spots below their CF% rank.) So missing Alec Martinez, while painful, probably won't be responsible for a big downturn in defensive performance over these next couple games.
Washington will be tough, especially with a power play unit which is perhaps the league's best. Martinez has actually become one of the team's better penalty killers since the season began...
LA Kings Defensemen - Penalty Killing Statistics
|Name||TOI/Gm||Zone Start% Rel||Shots For/60||Shots Against/60||Shots For %Rel||Scoring Chances For/60||Scoring Chances Against/60||Scoring Chances For %Rel|
...and replacing him with Brayden McNabb or Jake Muzzin is a significant downgrade. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is the league's best offensive squad, and though LA got away with missing Martinez on Saturday, asking them to beat the Lightning again without Martinez is a tall order.
Still, though, that's only two of the next five games in which Martinez's absence will be especially costly. If Martinez isn't back by the Stadium Series game against San Jose, though, the Kings will be faced with four games in three cities against average-to-good offensive teams, with at least three or four guys getting more minutes than they should. That's a problem.
On the offensive end, the Kings will miss Alec Martinez, but with the Kings on a run of allowing 2+ goals in fifteen straight Jonathan Quick starts (h/t Mike Kelly), the defense is what we'll really be biting our nails over in the upcoming games. No one wants Martinez to be rushed back into the lineup -- you don't mess with concussions -- but if Martinez is expected to miss more than five games, it would be no surprise to see LA shore up the back end with a trade.