Defense continues to struggle for the LA Kings as they give up four third period goals to finish their road trip with a 3-2-0 record.
LAK : Phillip Danault (3) ASST : Viktor Arvidsson (2), Trevor Moore (4)
WAS: Lars Eller (2) ASST: Dimitry Orlov (3), John Carlson (3)
LAK: Viktor Arvidsson (1) ASST: Trevor Moore (5)
WAS: Marcus Johansson (2) ASST: Dimitry Orlov (4), TJ Oshie (3)
LAK : 3
WAS : 4
LAK : 0/1
1. The top line is struggling
The offseason acquisition of Kevin Fiala was a blockbuster of epic proportions for the LA Kings fandom, and the cost was high. With Fiala starting on the top line alongside Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe, the trio should be firing on all cylinders and doing a great job putting the team on their back when the going gets tough.
The Kings have scored 23 goals in this small sample size, with the top line picking up a total of 17 points. While seemingly respectable, the total available points for those 23 goals is 69. What this means is that 24% of the total possible points have come from the top 3 players for the Kings. Again, not awful numbers, but not numbers we would expect from a line that holds two 30 goal scorers from just last season.
The Kings are going to need to either get some more out of this top line or start to possibly look for other combinations that help the team even out and score a little more.
In fact, this line was a total -5 for the evening against the Capitals and generated a grand total of three shots on net. The LA Kings need better. Some extra work during practice would probably benefit Los Angeles once they return to the west coast.
2. Is the Nice line back?
It’s safe to say that the best storyline of last season was the emergence of the fan dubbed “Nice Line” for Los Angeles. A statistical anomaly, at one point the line was one of the best lines in the league. During the first couple of games this season, there was some discussion that maybe the line had lost that magic. However, it seems that they heard the calls for better play and have decided that they are too NICE to let the fans down.
Trevor Moore, Phillip Danault, and Viktor Arvidsson combined for two goals and four assists against Washington, and more than that, they combined for five goals and four assists in the 5 game road trip.
There are rough patches for all teams but the LA Kings have haven’t had one line that could really stick together and be great since Anze Kopitar centered Dustin Brown and Justin Williams for a few years. Even the famed “That 70’s line” didn’t last more than one great Stanley Cup run.
If the Nice Line can keep producing and get back to where they were before (calling the Thousand Oaks Native Trevor Moore fan club), some of the scoring issues could just be a distant memory by the middle of November.
3. The LA Kings Blue Line needs help
There was a time, long ago, when the LA Kings were known as a defense first team. Teams across the NHL would hate playing against them because they would suppress shots, stand you up at the blue line, and generally aggravate anyone trying to score on them. That time has long gone and there are some serious defensive holes that are starting to show the weaknesses of this LA Kings team.
Left side defensive players are lacking for Los Angeles and it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore a defensive core that can’t stop incoming offense. A four goal third period against the Capitals can’t happen and the problem cannot be ignored. Clarke seems to playing well, but logging just under 14 minutes of ice time in a game where the head coach deemed it necessary for three people to play more than 20 minutes makes it more concerning that there isn’t someone who shoots left that the Kings can rely on.
The offensive game seems to be on the right track for the LA Kings, but the blue line has to be taken care of for success to come to the team. The continuation of this trend can only end badly and with the Kings being ready to fight for a playoff spot, the team needs to be able to lock down a third period lead.
The LA Kings are back at it on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lighting. Puck drop is at 7:00pm PT.
Featured Image Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports