The Los Angeles Kings have dropped four straight games following their seven-game win streak, but their overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday night was maybe the most frustrating of the four as the game was theirs for the taking. After turning a corner with their big winning streak, it might be back to the drawing board for head coach Todd McLellan. Here are four takeaways from the overtime loss.
Kings’ Offense Nowhere To Be Found
After a four-goal performance against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, few people expected the Kings’ offense to struggle so bad against the Coyotes. But their consistently inconsistent offense put only one goal past Karel Vejmelka for his first career win. He was great in net, with 2.83 goals saved above expected, but the Kings also helped him out with poor finishing. The lack of production from the second line is particularly concerning, as they haven’t scored since Andreas Athanasiou’s goal against the Ottawa Senators five games ago. That line’s scoring touch was a huge reason for their winning streak, and the Kings have struggled since the line’s scoring drought began.
We’ll see if McLellan keeps the second line together, as they looked great in their first few games but have struggled since. After a recent change to the first line, he might not want to shake things up too much, but the team needs this line to rediscover their scoring touch.
Fourth Line Continues To Provide Offense
One highlight from Saturday’s game was the two goals scored by the fourth line and their great play overall. They showed up on the scoresheet again on Sunday after Brendan Lemieux scored his fourth of the season. He now has four points in his last four games.
That line wasn’t as good against the Coyotes – they were on the ice for Arizona’s regulation goal – but consistent offense from the fourth line is always a plus. If McLellan is thinking about shaking up the roster, I have to imagine Lemieux and Blake Lizotte will be safe, as they’re both on fire right now.
New Power Play Same Result
The Kings have also had a consistently atrocious power play. They tried switching up the lines to spark some offense, but it proved ineffective. Matt Roy and Arthur Kaliyev were promoted to the top unit so that Kaliyev could add a much-needed shot threat. I think they were hoping that Roy, as a right-shot, would balance the top of the power play since having three left-shots hasn’t worked well recently. The puck movement was better in this game, and LA had chances, but they still couldn’t score with the man advantage. However, with Drew Doughty set to return sooner than expected, the Kings might wait out their special teams’ struggles until he returns.
They should also consider giving Sean Durzi his NHL debut, which many expected to see on Sunday night. He would be a good replacement for Olli Maatta to add some offense from the blue line. He proved he could quarterback a power play when he was with the Ontario Reign, so it might be time to give him that chance in the NHL. As a shot-happy defenseman, more than any of the Kings’ blueliners, he would be the closest like-for-like replacement for Doughty. The Kings play the team that drafted Durzi – the Toronto Maple Leafs – on Wednesday, so this would be the perfect game for him to make his debut. We saw how well Carl Grundstrom and Trevor Moore played against their former team. It’s worth seeing if Durzi has the same chip on his shoulder.
Third Line Struggled Again
On Saturday against the Hurricanes, McLellan’s line changes affected both the first and third lines. It did wonders for the first line, as Adrian Kempe has excelled in his elevated role over the last two games. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the same effect on the third line. They were heavily out-chanced and out-possessed Sunday as they try to find chemistry. I’d be surprised this line stays together against the Maple Leafs, and I think Lias Andersson will be given a chance to improve that line. McLellan should scratch Kaliyev and move Moore down to the fourth line to facilitate Andersson’s introduction and get that third line going. It might be an overreaction to abandon a line after two games, but they were pretty bad in those games, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to get Andersson back into the lineup.
Kings Have a Tough Test Wednesday
The Maple Leafs will be looking for revenge after their last game against the Kings, a 5-1 loss. Coming off four straight losses, the Kings will need to quickly figure things out if they want to win this game. We’ll see if they stick with alternating starters, as Jonathan Quick had another good game on Sunday and Cal Petersen struggled on Saturday. The Kings’ middle-six needs to find their game quickly, or the Kings might fall into another losing streak.
My name is Austin Stanovich, as a lifelong player and fan I’m hoping to bring my own unique perspective on the hockey world, specifically covering the Los Angeles Kings. As a SoCal native I grew up a Kings fan, and after graduating from Long Beach State in 2020 I’ve joined The Hockey Writers crew as a columnist for the Kings.