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Game Day Preview #61, Los Angeles Kings @ Florida Panthers

The Kings look to end their losing streak this afternoon in Sunrise.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

HOW TO WATCH

Take a good, long look at this Kings team when they go out on the ice.

This may be the last time you see this particular set of men taking the ice as teammates. As the last Kings game before the trade deadline — Monday’s occurs well after the cutoff — it’s possible more bodies will be shipped out in the time that follows. With no real high-profile trade pieces of the Matt Duchene-type caliber, it’s unlikely that the Kings will sit anyone tonight as a precaution for a trade, but still. It’s possible Rob Blake gets a call he can’t justify turning down for someone currently on the roster.

So, thanks, guys. Can’t say this year’s been fun, but for this particular iteration of the 2018-19 Los Angeles Kings, it’s at least been a journey, we’ll say.

The journey takes the Kings to Florida, where they look to break a six-game losing streak. The is the second time this season that they’ve lost six in a row; the first was shortly before John Stevens’ dismissal in November. For a team that looked like it had some momentum coming out of their east coast road trip at the beginning of the month, the Kings have been back to their old ways as of late. Their losses have generally been close — all but two in this streak have been one-goal losses — but the general theme has been one of “too little, too late”, with the Kings trying to mount late-game comebacks but falling short. They simply don’t have the firepower, skill, or even systems in place in order to make a late charge. Look no further than their total failure to maintain much control of the puck, let alone look dangerous at all with the goalie pulled during the closing minute of the loss to Nashville.

A game against the Panthers should be winnable for the Kings. Both Roberto Luongo and James Reimer are having down years in net, and while Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are amazing players, they can only carry this team to victory so many times. The Panthers are 11 points behind Pittsburgh, who is currently holding down the last wild card spot in the East. They have little chance of leapfrogging all the teams in front of them, and realistically should be looking at selling off spare parts much the same way the Kings are.

But because hockey is hockey, the Panthers have won six of their last 10 and, as they have over the past several seasons, seem destined to try to at least cause some chaos down the stretch, even if they don’t make it into the playoffs. They’re a team that doesn’t look like they’re ready to throw in the towel, which is more than we can say for the Kings on some nights.

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