Los Angeles Kings v Phoenix Coyotes

Kopitar on L.A.’s scoring woes: “I’d be lying if I said there was no frustration”


The Los Angeles Kings are the NHL’s lowest scoring team. They rank dead last in goals per game (2.26) and 5-on-5 goals (36) and only have three players — Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Anze Kopitar — with seven goals or more.

Those ghastly numbers were enough for Kopitar to express frustration to Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider.

“I’d be lying if I said there was no frustration in the room. Everybody would like to score more goals,” Kopitar said. “Sometimes, for the guys, it’s almost better if you lose 5-4 than 2-1 or 1-0, because you have the sense that you did something out on the ice, that you did score a goal.”

Why L.A.’s scoring has fallen off a cliff is mysterious. Outside of a brutal, injury-ravaged season from Dustin Penner, the Kings have had all their offensive stars available. And it’s not like all the scorers are struggling — Kopitar is scoring at a point-a-game clip and prior to getting hurt, Richards was on pace for a career-high in goals.

That said, there are some theories as to why LA isn’t scoring:

— To acquire top-end talent like Richards and Gagne, the Kings were forced to jettison some of their depth. Last year’s key bottom-six guys (Wayne Simmonds, Michal Handzus, Alexei Ponikarovsky) are all playing elsewhere and their replacements (Ethan Moreau, Trent Hunter, Colin Fraser) have done zilch.

— Compounding the depth problem are guys that LA let walk or traded for nothing, like Matt Moulson (let walk as a FA), Teddy Purcell (traded for Jeff Halpern) and Brian Boyle (traded for a third-round pick) — all thriving with their new respective teams.

— GM Dean Lombardi told Hammond “we set out to put a strong defensive structure in place,” and “there’s no doubt in my mind that it starts back there and it’s critical for the playoffs.” This could be a case of a team sacrificing offense for defense, like what we’ve seen with Washington recently.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.