Around the NHL: What’s wrong with the LA Kings?

The Los Angeles Kings were one of the finer franchises in the NHL for the last four years. Darryl Sutter turned the Kings into champions the moment he was hired in the middle of the 2011-12 season. Now two games into this season, one ending in a 5-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks and the other ending in a 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, what has happened to them?

“If you feel better about losing, we played better tonight than the last game,” Sutter said. “I was hoping that tonight it was a matter of time, but we really didn’t get much. We probably deserved a little better fate. They scored some really easy goals to be honest.

“[The Kings’ top line were] probably a little better than last game, they still have to finish opportunities. When they get them they have to finish them, that’s it. The top guys too, Kopi’s [Anze Kopitar] line. I think McNabb played really well. He was a little bit quicker, and being an aggressive and physical player. He tried to do that for us tonight.”

Jonathan Quick is widely considered as one of the best goalies in the NHL and he has started the season with nine goals allowed in the first two game. All at home no less. It is one of the biggest early season shockers so far, especially since he capped off the previous season with a .918 save percentage.

While that may correct itself later in the year — Consensus suggests Quick is too good for this to be permanent — Can the same be said about the offense? Unless the goalie is perfect, scoring only one goal isn’t going to buy them a point in the standing.

“The bottom line is we didn’t score enough goals,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “If you want to win hockey games you have to be scoring 2-3 goals at least.”

Last season surfaced a falling out between the players and Sutter. In the middle of a road slump, the team locked Sutter away from the locker room after a game. While the fans dismissed the report, Dean Lombardi confirmed it to be truth during a victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in February.

That came during a victory. It is possible that the continuation of this head scratching season starting slump could see the early end of the Sutter era in the Kings bench. With failure comes a more flustered resentment towards the leader.

The NHL has a history of firing coaches after the first fleeting sign of struggle. Michael Therrien was fired by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the middle of the 2008-09 season despite leading the team to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings the previous season.

“It’s real early in the season and we know the group we have in here and we’re not panicking,” Kings forward Tyler Toffoli said. “We’re just going to have to keep working.”

While fans and players alike can dismiss these struggles as “its early”, it’s usually not the case for the head coach.


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