Kings Who Haven’t Found Their Sword

The Los Angeles Kings have plenty of offensive talent. From Tyler Toffoli to Anze Kopitar, from Jeff Carter to Drew Doughty, the Kings know how to generate offense on a nightly basis.

In fact, through 24 games, the Kings have lit the lamp 59 times for an average of 2.46 goals per game. The Kings have only been shutout one time during the 2015-16 season, that game being the third game of the Kings’ 0-3 skid to open the season. The Kings have righted the ship since.

The Kings have scored three or more goals in ten games this season and the usual suspects have been behind the majority of those shots that have found the back of the net. Toffoli currently leads the Kings with 11 goals, while Carter is a close second with ten and there’s no surprise that Kopitar, Milan Lucic and Marain Gaborik round out the top five with eight, seven and five respectively.

However, we’re not here to talk about the guys above the fold on all the stats sheets. We’re here to talk about the guys you have to scroll down to get to. We’re hear to talk about the players with a goose egg next to their name still.

There are currently eight skaters who have dressed for a game this season that have yet to light the lamp for the Kings. Of course, there are the Derek Forborts and Jordan Weals among this group that don’t dress every night, so grouping them into this batch may be a little unfair.

Narrowing down the field to a better sample size, we’ll establish a 20 games played minimum barrier. That leaves four Kings in the mix: Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan representing the forwards and Christian Ehrhoff and Brayden McNabb among the defencemen.

Listed from most likely to least likely, here are the Kings that have been shutout but is most likely to score their first goal next.

Christian Ehrhoff

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (10) and Carolina Hurricanes right wing Kris Versteeg (32) during the NHL game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena.
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (10) and Carolina Hurricanes right wing Kris Versteeg (32) during the NHL game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena.

This should be a no brainer, and the fact that Ehrhoff has been left out of the goal column up to this point of the season is a bit troubling. Ehrhoff has averaged six goals a season in his career, with his career high being 14 goals in 2009-10 and 2010-11 when he was with the Vancouver Canucks. So Ehrhoff should be due.

The biggest factor that should play into Ehrhoff lighting the lamp before the rest is his time on the ice and the situations he gets on the ice for. This season, the German defender is averaging 16:20 of ice time and 2:20 of power play time a game. Getting on the ice is the first step to scoring, and getting on the ice when there is one less guy trying to take the puck away from you is even better.

Five of Ehrhoff’s six assists on the season have come while the Kings have had the man advantage, which goes to show the opportunities are there, and there might be one around the corner for Ehrhoff. Watch for Ehrhoff to light the lamp sooner rather than later.

Kyle Clifford

It took a lot for me not to put Kyle Clifford in the number one spot, just because he’s Kyle Clifford. Clifford may not be the most offensively talented member on the team but he has a knack for potting a goal at random and influential times.

Take Game 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final for example, the Kings were drained and needed a momentum swing. Who provided the catalyst? Not Kopitar. Not Carter. It was Clifford, who scored the first of a three goal rally to win Game 1 by a score of 3-2.

Yes, Clifford may falter in some of the areas that others are getting knocked for, but there is an energy around Clifford that leaves you thinking he could pot one at any time.

The biggest thing when talking about Clifford is he will get put on the ice to provide the Kings with a spark, that spark could be a big hit or a heavyweight fight, but like the video above, Clifford isn’t afraid to get the puck on net when he gets the chance.

Brayden McNabb

Much like Ehrhoff, McNabb might have a slight advantage because he is on the ice for 21 minutes a game. But what hinders McNabb’s offensive output is the amount of time he spends on the ice when the Kings are short a man.

Also, in most cases skating with Drew Doughty will be a benefit for you, and 92% of McNabb’s ice time this season has come with Doughty on the ice. But when Doughty is on the ice the play runs through him and he is the first defenceman to get the green light to join the rush. McNabb comes second. So while Doughty makes everyone around him better, he could also be taking offensive chances for his d-partner.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Jordan Nolan

Two things have to happen in order to score a goal. You a have to get on the ice and you have to shoot the puck. Those two things have been in short supply for Nolan so far this season. Nolan has taken only 19 shots in 23 games this season and is averaging 8:28 of ice time a game, the least of the four Kings mentioned.

When Nolan does get the puck it seems to be along the side boards and nothing really comes to fruition; a dooming trait if he wants to light the lamp. It would be tough to argue Nolan gets in the goals column before the three Kings mentioned above.

But the great thing about hockey is that it’s completely unpredictable. One shot could put all this speculation and all these numbers to shame. One night when Weal or Forbort get in the line-up, they could pop a goal past a goalie and throw a real wrench in the topic.

But until then, we wait.

Eric covers the Kings for The Hockey Writers. You can follow Eric on Twitter at @_Roberts11.