The Los Angeles Kings have had a real hard time scoring goals lately and have dropped games to some of their biggest competitors. The No. 1 reason for the slump? Their power play has been invisible.
When the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, it capped off a season in which they ranked 29th in offense with 2.29 goals per game. And if it wasn't for the fact they scored 59 goals over their final 20 games (2.95 average), or that they managed 2.85 per game in those playoffs, their current struggle for conversions wouldn't seem so bad.
But with 35 goals in their past 20 games the Los Angeles Kings are officially in a funk. They've only managed two goals in their past four games and one in their past three. At least in 2012 all the pieces weren't yet in place - Jeff Carter, an important addition, was a mid-year pick up. In 2014, the Kings are a well-prepared, experienced, championship team. What gives?
First off, their recent stretch has included difficult match ups against Anaheim, St. Louis, San Jose and Phoenix. But it's also included losses to Dallas and Nashville where L.A. scored only two goals. The most blatant example of a troubled offence came in a game against Vancouver two weeks ago. The Kings won 1-0, despite going 0-for-7 on the power play as Vancouver seemed happy to pick up PIMs.
And therein lies the problem.
The Kings' power play this season has been atrocious, ranked 28th in the league at 13.8 percent. Even in 2012 they had a middle-of-the-pack 17 percent conversion rate which, really, was a difference between making the playoffs and winning a Cup…and missing the playoffs and getting a lottery pick.
Not that these Kings should face that problem, sitting six points safely in a playoff position. But a struggling power play of this magnitude drops a lot of points - and playoff home games - in the long run. With another 0-for-2 effort in a 3-0 loss to Phoenix Tuesday night, the Kings have now gone 0-for their past 18 power play opportunities. Their last extra-man goal came in a 3-2 loss to Boston Jan. 20.
Los Angeles regularly outshoots its opponents, finishing on top or tied in that department in eight of their past 12 games. But they're not owning the mistakes opponents hand them as championship predators do. Over the past week, what should be a strong suit for a star-laden team such as the Kings has been costing them points against some key opponents.
When the Kings get back on track and start scoring again, it will coincide with an uptick in power play production. It has to.
0-for-18 is too long for anyone.