The Los Angeles Kings seem to have pulled the rip cord on their hopes of returning to the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, trading away assets this month while falling further back of the leaders in the standings.
The Kings have lost five straight in regulation and will try to avoid their longest losing streak of the season when they host the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles showed some promise in mid-December when it strung together a 4-0-1 stretch to escape the Pacific Division basement, but the Kings have not won two in a row since then, and have just one win in regulation since Jan. 1.
“There are some things that we can look at and accentuate as doing well and there’s other things we still need to work on and improve on,” Kings coach Todd McLellan told reporters after a 4-1 loss at the New York Rangers on Sunday. “It’s kind of the same story over and over again, but that’s who we are and that’s where we are.”
The Flames are likely feeling optimistic after winning their past two games by the score of 6-2. Those wins allowed Calgary to hold onto the top wild-card spot from the Western Conference.
Milan Lucic has two goals and three assists in the past two games, Mikael Backlund has one goal and four assists over his past three, and Elias Lindholm is riding a seven-game point streak (two goals, five assists) for the Flames.
Injuries have become the main concern for Calgary, especially defensively.
Mark Giordano, who won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman last season, is week-to-week with a hamstring injury that’s already kept him out three games.
Travis Hamonic was placed on injured reserve on Monday after sustaining an undisclosed injury in a win at the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
“I think the guys have done a great job of insulating themselves and pulling all together in the absences of a couple good players,” Flames coach Geoff Ward told reporters following a win at the San Jose Sharks on Monday.
Calgary has recalled right wing Buddy Robinson from Stockton of the American Hockey League to occupy Hamonic’s roster spot.
The Kings are excited to see what left wing Trevor Moore can bring to the team. They acquired Moore from the Toronto Maple Leafs last week in exchange for veteran forward Kyle Clifford and goalie Jack Campbell.
Moore, 24, made his team debut in a 3-0 loss at the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, playing on a line with 22-year-olds Blake Lizotte and Austin Wagner.
They were on the same line against the Islanders as well, displaying the high-end speed the Kings have been trying to implement.
“There are three guys there that can skate and they have a tenacity,” McLellan said. “If they get to the point where they get some polish in and around the net, they’d be very dangerous because they do create chances. They haven’t given up much over the last little bit. It’s just that finish part. Sometimes it’s experience, sometimes it’s working on certain skills, but as we move forward, we’re going to need them to produce.”
–Field Level Media