Tag: scoring slumps

Columbus Blue Jackets v Los Angeles Kings

Power outage continues in Los Angeles, Blue Jackets shut out Kings

The Kings continued to struggle scoring goals as they were shut out by the worst team in the league on Saturday afternoon en route to a 1-0 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The shutout loss is only the latest in a season that has featured plenty of scoring woes for Los Angeles. After all, becoming the worst scoring team in the NHL doesn’t happen overnight.

By the end of the game, they were 0-for-8 on the power play and feebly failed on a 6-on-4 advantage to end the game. If they were able to score a single goal against Columbus’ second-worst penalty killing unit (or 25th ranked defense), they could have earned at least a single point against the woeful Blue Jackets.

The 1-0 defeat wastes yet another solid effort by Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. The man is among the league leaders with a 1.93 goals against average and a lofty .934 save percentage; yet he still has 17 losses (11 regulation, six OT/shootout) through 35 games played. How can a guy with those numbers lose almost 50 percent of his games? It’s quite simple actually: the Kings only have 21 goals in Quick’s 17 losses.

After the game, head coach Darryl Sutter told the media that he was happy with the overall effort by his team. “We did everything we wanted to do today except score on the power play,” Sutter said after the defeat. Of course, scoring an even-strength goal may have been something they would have liked to do. Or a victory—that’s something that should have been on the agenda.

The positive spin in LA is that the defense and goaltending has been so good this season, the team is still sitting near the top of the Pacific Division and on the cusp of a playoff spot. The loss to Columbus is the first regulation loss for the Kings under Darryl Sutter (5-1-3) and the first loss for the Kings overall in regulation in 10 games. Not bad for a team that has scored two or fewer goals in 19 of their last 21 games.

Just imagine what this team could do if they found a way to start scoring.

Kings break scoring slump, win against Columbus

RJ Umberger, Brad Richardson, Jonathan Quick
1 Comment

The Los Angeles Kings offense has been as explosive as a firecracker this season, but things were really getting bad tonight. Using tonight’s box score and Helene Elliott’s math, the Kings needed the equivalent of two games and 10 minutes* to score a goal.

Davis Drewiskie found the net 4:33 into the third period and then Dustin Brown notched the game-winner a little less than four minutes later as the Kings topped the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. That’s a downright deluge of offense for this team.

Impotent offense-related snark aside, the most important thing is that Los Angeles stopped a dispiriting five-game losing streak. It doesn’t change the fact that the Kings’ confidence cannot be too high and it’s troubling that this should-be contender rarely gains any room for error, but at this point, they’ll take it.

* – To be exact, 130 minutes and 35 seconds.

Milan Lucic is the key to the Bruins top line, but must get better

Milan Lucic, Brian Gionta

Boston’s Milan Lucic had his best season as a Bruin this year. With 30 goals and 32 assists the hulking power forward asserted himself the way Bruins faithful would hope he would when he arrived on the scene in Boston. While his physical play made many Boston fans think of Hall Of Famer Cam Neely, Lucic’s output never came close to that of Neely until this season.

With the playoffs under way and the Bruins trailing Montreal 2-1 in the series, the Bruins are hoping to see Lucic evoke Neely all over again. While Lucic’s linemates David Krejci and Nathan Horton found ways to get on the board in Game 3 with goals of their own, Lucic is still without a point and is a -2 through three games. Lucic knows he has to be better and while the pressure to perform is high, especially in Boston, the Bruins know they need Lucic to be better to win.

CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty talks about how the Bruins top line has to get Lucic going if they’re going to go far in the playoffs.

The combination of offensive playmaking and brutish physicality to create some impact in the offensive end is the hallmark of Lucic’s game, and it hasn’t taken place thus far against the Habs.

“We obviously felt like we did not get enough done the first two games. You look at our scoring chances – in the first game I think we only had one chance as a line and the second I think again we only had one scoring chance as a line,” said Lucic. “We were able to generate more, but still I think we are going to have to keep working and working hard and working smart.”

One thing that could help Lucic to get his game back on track: focusing on the pounding physical play that always helps him regain his offensive mojo, and shortening his shifts a bit so he’s not skating himself into an exhausted shell. It appears that Lucic doesn’t have the energy left in the tank to remove players from the puck or finish off great opportunities when he gets them at the tail end of marathon shifts.

Lucic’s ability as both a scorer and physical hell-raiser are intertwined, the more he hits the better he plays and the better chances he gets to make room for himself on the ice to score. With how tight-checking this series with Montreal has been so far, that physical play from Lucic has been absent.

With Krejci rolling as the top center and Horton in his first playoffs, getting consistent play from Lucic would do wonders for the Bruins in this series. If he can get things going, that initial 2-0 hole the Bruins found themselves in will go away quickly.

Game of the Week preview: Should the Penguins be worried about Kris Letang’s struggles?

Kris Letang, Mikhail Grabovski

Thanks to some great work by head coach Dan Bylsma – and a roster full of hustling, hardworking players – the Pittsburgh Penguins remain competitive without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Yet if there’s one player who hit a wall without those two superstars, it is defenseman Kris Letang.

Whether you blame his struggles on the absence of those two forwards or the wear and tear that comes from playing big minutes in the post-Sergei Gonchar days, there’s little doubt that Letang is running out of steam. He began the season on a torrid pace, scoring 41 points in 50 games, but now he only has five points in his last 21. Things have been especially troubling lately, though, as he only has one assist and zero goals in his last 12 games.

His struggles aren’t limited to the offensive end, either. After producing positive plus minus ratings in every month through the All-Star Game, Letang sported an ugly -9 in February and holds a -1 with zero points in seven March games.

It would be hasty to wonder if Letang’s hot start was just a mirage, especially considering the drop in quality supporting cast members around him. Along with losing Crosby and Malkin – which surely hurts his power play numbers – Letang also has been without the safety net provided by defenseman Brooks Orpik and the one-two offensive punch provided by fellow scoring blueliner Alex Goligoski. Orpik has been injured while Goligoski is no longer on the team’s roster thanks to the James Neal trade.

A Penguins fan asked Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat reporter Dave Molinari about Letang’s issues, leading to this response.

While it’s painfully obvious that Letang’s play has slipped – he has one point, an assist, in his past 12 games and recently went 10 in a row without recording a positive plus-minus rating – his exceptional play during the early months of the season makes his slump seem even worse than it is. Whether it was realistic to expect a 23-year-old playing the toughest position in the game to remain at the rarefied level he so often reached during the first half of the season is open to debate, but his play into January certainly raised the bar of expectations.

Whether Letang really believed that it was his responsibility to fill the offensive void created by the loss of Crosby and Malkin isn’t known, but the reality is that there aren’t many defensemen shy of Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey in their primes who could even think of putting up enough points to do that. And if Letang did feel that way, he surely should have realized long ago that it wasn’t working the way he hoped.

That Letang has lost his swagger, as you put it, shouldn’t surprise anyone, because even the most accomplished player’s confidence suffers when he slips into a significant slump. It’s tough to be assertive when you’re doubting your abilities. The good news in that regard is, once Letang gets his game back in sync – and that will happen at some point, although there’s no guarantee it will be this season – his swagger will come back, too.

Overall, the Penguins shouldn’t be worried about Letang in the long term, but it’s tough to avoid speculation that he might struggle during the remainder of this season and the playoffs. Of course, that could all change if a well-rested Crosby finds his way back into the lineup.