They were doing so well, those Los Angeles Kings.
And it wasn’t that long ago, either.
Back on Jan. 4, these same Kings were tied for the second spot in the whole of the Western Conference. Hell, they were knocking on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s door at the summit of the league.
That night, the streak began.
Now, the Kings are fresh off their latest defeat, a narrow 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. It was Los Angeles’ sixth straight loss and their second to the rival Ducks in less in a week.
Why has a team that looked so dominant prior to this fallen off a proverbial cliff so quickly?
Perhaps fans could blame Jonathan Quick.
He’s lost his past five starts now, allowing three goals or more in four of them. But while his numbers might be in a little bit of decline, it’s hard to pin the Kings’ woes on a man who’s sporting a .924 save percentage and 2.34 goals-against average.
We must look deeper.
There we find some issues with getting the rubber puck in the back of the net.
When the streak began, the Kings were scoring. They posted three goals in each of their 4-3 losses to the Calgary Flames and the Nashville Predators – tight games that may have gone another way depending on a bounce or two. But since then, they’ve scored two, one, one and one in their past four, respectively.
Winning hockey games where you score one goal and expect your goalie to stop a barrage of shots is, well, nearly impossible in today’s NHL.
The lack of scoring is perhaps the Kings’ biggest problem. They simply need more of it.
They’re a team that ranks among the top in goal differential. They have a starting netminder that gives them a chance to win nearly every night.
Yet, when Anze Kopitar registers just two markers in 15 games, it’s not exactly helping. And when a resurgent Dustin Brown stops surging with just three goals in his past 16 games, it’s not helping. And when 18-goal man Tyler Toffoli has one goal in his past seven games… you get the picture.
Scoring is a must. No one needs to be told this, let alone the Kings who have won a couple Stanley Cups in recent years.
The good news: those scoring slumps likely won’t last.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck