The puck has dropped on the 2015-16 season. The Los Angeles Kings opened their season along with seven other team’s on the NHL’s first night. To say the Kings stumbled out of the gate would be a bit of an understatement. If you were to say the Kings fell on their face out of the gate, that might be a bit more accurate.
The Kings hosted their California rivals, the San Jose Sharks. A matchup that consistently turns out great hockey and one that needs no introduction. However, last night one team showed up ready to play, and the other struggled to get going.
The Sharks walked all over the Kings. San Jose out shot Los Angeles by a tally of 32-20, scored two power play goals and ultimately ended up on the right side of a 5-1 victory. By the end of the game, Martin Jones, who was traded away from Los Angeles and eventually ended up in San Jose over the course of the offseason, grabbed his first win as a Shark, San Jose’s new captain, Joe Pavelski had recorded a three-point night and the Kings were left with a big opening night loss.
Anyone that has followed the Kings over the course of the past decade might have expected last night’s anticlimactic performance.
Below is a chart listing the Kings’ season openers since the start of the 2005-06 season and you can see the Kings’ lackluster start to the new season is nothing new.
|W 2-1 SO
|W 3-2 OT
|W 3-2 SO
* Kings were designated home team at a neutral site in London
** Kings were designated home at a neutral site in Sweden
Looking over the last 11 season openers for the Kings, it is quite apparent the team has struggled to get out of the gate on the right foot.
Overall the Kings have been outscored 38-24 on opening night since 2005. Los Angeles’ 4-7-0 record could have easily been 1-10-0 if it weren’t for three wins in extra time.
Although the Kings were the designated home team in 2007 and 2012, those games took place at neutral sites outside of the United States. This has resulted in Kings fans not seeing a win at Staples Center to start the season since 2002 when the Kings beat the then Phoenix Coyotes 4-1 to open the 2002-03 season.
Over the last 11 season openers, when the Sharks have been matched up with the Kings, San Jose has had the Kings’ number. San Jose is now 3-0-0 and has outscored the Kings 12-2 in three season opening match ups since 2005.
Luckily for the Kings, the Stanley Cup isn’t handed out after the first game of the season. Luckily for the Kings, teams aren’t eliminated from the playoffs because they got blown out on opening night. Luckily for the Kings, there is still 81 games to play.
But after game number of this season there is plenty to fix for the Kings.
The Kings’ new number one line of Milan Lucic, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik were a combined minus six and only had four shots on net between the three of them . Neutral zone play and team defense, two usual strong points in the Kings’ game, looked sloppy and mediocre at best. All topped off by the Kings’ top two lines being held off the score sheet completely.
The Kings have plenty of time to get things right , that’s obvious. But things need to click in Los Angeles sooner rather than later, or else more games like opening night might be in the queue.