Follow me on Twitter: @Hockey_Comps
Follow HockeyBuzz Kings on Twitter: @HB_LAKings
Entering 2024 and nearing the midway mark of the season, the Los Angeles Kings find themselves in a good spot. The team leads the Pacific Division in points percentage and have established themselves as a pretty well-rounded threat to this point in the year.
However, after a great stretch of hockey up until early December, which included setting the record for the longest road win streak to start a season, the Kings didn't have the same results over their final 10 games of 2023.
The team suffered three straight losses in mid-December, including a blown lead against the New York Islanders for their first road defeat, followed by a loss to Jonathan Quick, and a disappointing outing against the Winnipeg Jets. They rebounded well with a 4-1-0 record in a series of games against non-playoff Pacific opponents in the Seattle Kraken, San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames, but now find themselves on a two-game skid against after a loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, before coming up short against the Edmonton Oilers in a shootout to close 2023. Essentially, the Kings have struggled a little as of late when facing good competition.
One thing is that the Kings haven’t benefitted from the same consistent, game-to-game offense. While they’ve still been able to put up four or five goals against weaker teams like the Sharks and Flames, that hasn’t been the case when facing some tougher opponents. Over the last 10 games, the Kings have scored two regulation goals or less in seven of them.
While the likes of Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe are rolling, and Trevor Moore continues to score at a better pace than anyone could've expected (albeit with just four points total over the last 10 games), others have slowed down.
Quinton Byfield has five points in his last 10 games, while Arthur Kaliyev has been a little invisible, with just two assists over that time. Kevin Fiala hasn't seen consistent results either more recently, while Phillip Danault has three assists over his last eight games. Depth scoring has also really dried up, with Blake Lizotte, Carl Grundstrom and Trevor Lewis each managing only two points each over their last 10 games.
Meanwhile, Pierre-Luc Dubois’ start with the Kings continues to be a little underwhelming, now with just three assists in his last 14 games.
Earlier on, it seemed like almost all lines were clicking on a consistent basis. However, that’s fallen off a little bit in the recent stretch. The Kings’ power play also hasn’t been overly effective, which doesn’t help, going 6-for-35 on the man advantage over the last 10 games.
Now, the Kings are still one of the West’s top contenders. While their results over the last 10 games may not have been ideal, there’s still a lot to like, given the team is only giving up an average of less than 27 shots per game. Vladislav Gavrikov returned to the lineup after the break as well, and despite Pheonix Copley’s injury, David Rittich has stepped in with two strong performances since being called up.
But after such a hot start to the year, the Kings may suffer a little from raising expectations for themselves. While they've still gotten decent results overall over the last stretch, they haven't been able to finish the job against quality competition.
The Kings will have two more home games to kick off 2024, beginning a stretch of seven straight matchups against Eastern Conference opponents. They’ll be back in action tonight, when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they look to build back some momentum to start the new year.