No doubt about it, it’s been a brutal two nights for the Los Angeles Kings – maybe the worst in a season rife with letdowns.
A night after dropping an honestly unacceptable 3-1 loss to Jack Johnson and the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets, the Kings seemed like they were on the verge of salvaging back-to-back contests against the Central Division by beating the Detroit Red Wings.
Dwight King gave the Kings a 3-2 lead with about six minutes left in the third period, but that lead proved insufficient. Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg were a serious problem for the Kings all night, including the game-tying goal by Filppula. Zetterberg had two goals and one assist while Filppula collected a tally and two helpers. Darren Helm then scored the 4-3 game-winner with 1:13 left in the third, making the Kings go from increasingly positive to downright despondent.
The kind of losses that result in firings later on
On paper, losing to the Red Wings is far from shameful – particularly at Joe Louis Arena. Still, with all of Detroit’s injuries and the urgency of tonight’s match in mind, this is the kind of loss that might get Kings GM Dean Lombardi fired.
Dwindling odds for the Kings
With that loss, the Kings remain a point behind the eighth-ranked San Jose Sharks, who also hold two games in hand on Los Angeles. The Kings do have a slight edge over the Colorado Avalanche but the Calgary Flames could create a virtual tie for ninth place if they hold on to beat the Winnipeg Jets tonight.
What lies ahead
The Kings face a challenging schedule, but at least gives them a chance to “control their destiny” to an extent with matches against some of the teams who stand in their way.
Los Angeles will visit Chicago on Sunday and then get a chance to avenge tonight’s loss against the Red Wings at the Staples Center on Tuesday. After that, they’ll take on the Ducks in Anaheim on Friday and then enjoy a four-game homestand that’s less enjoyable since they’ll face four of the best teams in the NHL (Nashville, San Jose, St. Louis and Boston).
After that, they must deal with a four-game road trip through the Northwest Division, a home game versus the Edmonton Oilers and then a potentially crucial season closing home-and-home set with the San Jose Sharks.
On paper, that’s a brutal stretch. Sadly for Kings fans, it doesn’t seem like the team’s given the hockey world much reason to believe that they’ll overcome the challenges ahead.