The Kings’ Wild Ride

The NHL season is an 82-game roller-coaster full of peaks and valleys for every team. For the Los Angeles Kings, there have been what feels like a full season’s worth of ups and downs packed into just the first month of the season.

While most roller-coasters start with a quick takeoff or a rise before the first drop, the Kings went the opposite direction. Jonathan Quick suffered a groin injury in the first period of the 2016-17 season, and those along for the ride experienced the first unexpected free-fall of the season.

Quick’s injury snowballed into the first three games of the season, three loses. Over the course of those three games, Los Angeles was outscored 12-6, outshot in every game except one and converted only one of eight power-play opportunities.

The free-fall came to an end when the Kings went on a five-game winning streak, which brought their record to a respectable 5-3-0. During its five-game winning streak, Los Angeles needed extra time in four of the five games, where it won three games in overtime and one in the shootout. The season seemed salvaged after a less-than-desirable start.

Everyone Buckle Up

Then came the first loop of the Kings’ season.

The first part of the loop came in the form of back-to-back losses to the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, where Los Angeles was shut out in both games and outscored 7-0. Everything seemed upside-down and had most who follow the team screaming.

The second part of the loop was three wins against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Kings scored 15 goals in three games and posted two shutout victories against the Flames and Maple Leafs in back-to-back games. Just as the ride was completely upside-down and the stomachs of those riding were in their throats, the ride came around and shot everyone out the bottom of the loop.

However, as quickly as the Kings were shot out of that whirlwind of a five-game stretch, the next drop came around the corner just as fast.

In the midst of its first extended road trip of the season, a five-game trip through Canada and Colorado, Los Angeles hit its second major free-fall. Four road games and four road losses brought the Kings, who opened the road trip with a commanding 7-0 win over the Maple Leafs, crashing back down to earth. Instead of continuing the offensive explosion that took place in Toronto, they were held to one goal in three of the four games and only scored two goals in the fourth.

We’re Going Streaking

Through the first 17 games of the season, there was a three-game losing streak to open the season, a five-game winning streak, back-to-back losses, three more wins and a five-game losing streak that got the Kings to a 7-9-1 record.

Talk about streaky.

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Tyler Toffoli sits behind only Jeff Carter in points scored for the Kings. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

The Kings’ latest game played right into the narrative that has been going on all season long. After losing five in a row on the road, the Kings returned to Los Angeles and thanks to goals from Jeff Carter, a shorthanded tally, and Devin Setoguchi, they beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2.

Now the question is how many wins can be strung together before the clicking stops and things drop from beneath everyone once again, sending Los Angeles into the next drop on the 2016-17 roller-coaster.

No matter when the next drop comes or how long it lasts, the first 18 games of the Kings’ season have been a whirlwind of ups and downs that would make even the biggest thrill seeker a little queasy.