The Los Angeles Kings have forgotten how to score.
This isn’t your typical offensive drought. The Kings were scoreless today against the Flyers, the third time in the past five games they’ve been shut out. They’ve scored just three goals in their past six games, and Anze Kopitar has scored all three.
No doubt, the forwards Darryl Sutter counts on for offense have under-produced this year. None of the big guns are scoring at expected rates, especially captain Dustin Brown, who has no points in his past 10 games. He’s on pace for 22 points. A pitiful total, considering he’s one of the best complementary top-six wingers in the league at his best, and he should be in the 50-point range.
The reasons behind the Kings’ scoring woes are difficult to diagnose. But regardless of why exactly a roster with so much talent and familiarity struggles to score the way these Kings have, the numbers indicate a change has to be made — only the Buffalo Sabres score fewer goals per game than L.A., and scoring has been an issue even prior to the current slump. So, here are Dean Lombardi’s options:
1) Hope that stepping away for the Olympic break gives the team chance to recharge; maybe if they come back feeling different, they can return to form.
2) Make a major trade to ignite the offense.
3) Fire Darryl Sutter.
First of all, firing Darryl Sutter doesn’t make sense, though it has certainly been suggested. With a nearly identical roster, Sutter stepped in and led the Kings to a Cup in 2012. Perhaps a new coach would temporarily jolt the team, but their current coaching staff have guided the Kings to allowing the fewest goals per game this season and the third-fewest shots against.
Lombardi’s best move, and the one he’ll likely make, would be making a deal, just like he did in 2012. The trade that sent Jack Johnson and a first rounder to the Blue Jackets in exchange for Jeff Carter came at a time when the Kings couldn’t score. The addition ignited the Kings and the Cup parade was a few short months later.
They don’t necessarily need a move the magnitude of the Carter trade, but they clearly need an addition of veteran skill to the lineup. Former Kings Matt Moulson and Mike Cammalleri would be a nice additions, but even someone in the Brad Boyes talent range would help.
Lombardi knows his team’s Stanley Cup window is wide open and they might be just a player away from setting themselves up for another title. Considering Lombardi’s history of boldness in the trade department, it’ll be no surprise if he completes a swap, perhaps even before the Olympic break.