Well, well, well, Ducks. We meet again. Last time didn’t go so well for the Kings -- it wasn’t even the type of loss you can feel okay about because you know the team played their best. They were just average against the Ducks and it showed in a boring, grind-it-out game that resulted in no points and the Kings slipping further out of the playoffs picture.
The Kings’ scoring woes have been talked about and dissected for years. Every year we think maybe the story will be different, and yet every year the narrative around the team turns into “why can’t anyone (or why can’t anyone except Insert Player Name Here) score?”. This year, even when they do score, they’re not doing it first. The last time they scored the first goal was in their 6-3 win over the Panthers, two weeks ago.
Since the #LAKings' five-game winning streak, they've led for 88:49 of game time, have been tied for 98:48 and have trailed for 292:23.— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) February 24, 2017
And when the Kings give up the first goal, their record isn’t so hot. They’re 10-22-2 this season when the opposing team scores first. They’re not doing very well from coming behind in general, either -- they’ve got five wins where they came back from a first period deficit, and two coming back from being behind in the second.
Less than a week after their disappointing showing in Anaheim, the Kings get a rematch on their home turf. This time, though, they may have a secret weapon in store.
If you listen to rumors, it’s possible that Jonathan Quick is available to play. Now, I’ll believe this one when I see him making saves like a disgruntled cat just woken up from its mid-day lounge. But does a Quick start ensure a -- well, a quick start from the team? Does it change how they play in front of their starting goaltender? Quick’s been practicing with the team but practice does not game-ready make, and there are probably better games to ease him back into playing than against the Ducks. Given Darryl Sutter’s tight-lipped nature about a) goalies, b) injuries, and c) injured goalies, this rumor won’t be put to bed until we see who leads the Kings out onto the ice in a few hours. But it’s possible Quick returns, and it’s possible he gives the team the morale boost they need to start playing like they mean it again.
The Ducks will most likely be with new acquisition Patrick Eaves, and also Patrick Eaves’ magnificent beard. There’s some debate as to whether this was a good trade or a bad idea; Eaves is having a career year as a 32-year old, putting up new highs in goals and total points. He brings scoring depth to the Ducks, who have had their own scoring woes lately. Of course, the flip side is that a large percentage of his goals have come with an assist from Tyler Seguin and/or Jamie Benn. (11 of Eaves’ 21 goals were assisted by one or both of them.) Regardless, Eaves was an intriguing option for many teams looking for a budget-friendly deadline pickup, and he could easily make some noise alongside Corey Perry on the third line, where he’s been projected to play.
The season is winding down and it’s getting late for too many more games where the storyline is “played well but couldn’t score”. Winning the do-over against the Ducks would be a nice way to claw out of the hole the Kings have put themselves in.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
King - Kopitar - Toffoli
Pearson - Carter - Brown
Gaborik - Shore - Lewis
Kempe - Dowd - Clifford
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Gravel
McNabb - Martinez
Budaj? Quick?? Peter Budaj Wearing Jonathan Quick’s Jersey???!
Ritchie - Getzlaf - Kase
Cogliano - Kesler - Silfverberg
Eaves - Rakell - Perry
Cramarossa - Thompson - Shaw
Fowler - Vatanen
Lindholm - Manson
Holzer - Bieksa
Opposing Preview: Anaheim Calling