After last night’s 1-0 loss to the Ducks, the Kings found themselves sitting two points back of Calgary for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Not a comfortable place to be with just 24 games left in the season — and now, the Kings are feeling that lack of comfort in the dressing room.
“Oh yeah, lots of concern,” Doughty said when asked about the atmosphere, per LA Kings Insider. “We’re still fully confident that we can turn it on now and get back in to that playoff spot that we want to be in but the longer we wait, the harder it’s going to be.
“Right now we’re losing points and other teams are winning games that aren’t playing against us. Yeah, we need to get on track immediately.”
One of the teams Doughty alluded to is the surging Jets, who moved a point ahead of L.A. with a win over Ottawa last night. The Kings still have four games in hand on Winnipeg, but the advantage won’t matter without some positive results.
Following a 1-0 OT win over Philly on Feb. 4, the Kings had a 27-21-4 record, good for 58 points and sole possession of the first wild card spot.
Since then, they’ve gone 1-5-0.
The Kings have lost in all sorts of ways, too. There were consecutive 5-0 blowouts to the Caps and Bolts. Things have since tightened up — including a 3-2 loss to Florida on Saturday, and last night’s aforementioned defeat to Anaheim — but the end results have all been the same.
Given there’s been so many different types of defeats, it’s not surprising many different targets have been criticized. Head coach Darryl Sutter pinned last Thursday’s 5-3 defeat to Arizona on goalie Peter Budaj, and Sutter alluded to the struggling defensive pair of Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin (who were split up) after Sunday’s game.
Again, from Kings Insider:
On whether he got what he was looking for from the changes to defensive pairings:
No. We made a mistake on the goal. They had an easy turnover in the neutral zone. We moved guys around. Quite honest, we’ve got a couple defensemen that’ve had really tough times this season, so we split ‘em up tonight.
Debate plus-minus all you like, but Martinez is minus-15 this year while Muzzin’s a team-worst minus-17. And this is on a team that has a virtually even goal differential (143 for, 145 against) and routinely outshoots its opponents (averaging 30.5 shots for per game, just 25.7 allowed).
The Kings will have a chance to get back in the win column on Tuesday, when they visit Colorado to take on the lowly Avs. After that, the club has just four games left before the March 1 trade deadline.