The Los Angeles Kings are dealing with a depth issue up front — and according to head coach Darryl Sutter, it hasn’t been dealt with very well.
“[We] shouldn’t go on the trip with 12 forwards,” Sutter told LA Kings Insider on Thursday, with the team in the midst of a lengthy six-game road swing. “When you’re gone that long, it should not be that situation.
“We did that last year, and it caught up in January. It’s why we didn’t make the playoffs.”
The Kings opened their current trip on Tuesday with a 3-2 OT win in Columbus, a game in which only 11 forwards dressed. Kyle Clifford was a late scratch due to injury and, per the LA Times, the club “did not know Clifford was ailing until it was too late to recall a player.”
(The Times also wondered if Sutter was sending a message, noting that his remarks were unprompted.)
This, of course, isn’t the first time the team’s operated with an undermanned roster.
Last year, injuries and cap constraints forced L.A. to play just five defensemen in a November game against Vancouver, a situation Sutter said was not ideal. By the time the club missed the playoffs in April, many were pointing to fatigue and a lack of energy as a big reason why.
“It’s a battle down right to the end, and we just weren’t consistent enough throughout the course of the season,” former Kings center Jarret Stoll told NHL.com. “We were chasing that wild card, chasing the eighth spot, chasing third in our division. It just felt like we were chasing it all year, and we couldn’t finish it off.”
On Wednesday, the Kings did recall a forward — Michael Mersch, the 23-year-old goalscorer from AHL Ontario.
He’s expected to make his NHL debut when L.A. takes on the Penguins in Pittsburgh.