All season long, the L.A. Kings have had difficulty scoring goals. It’s an issue that came back to haunt them once again.
The Kings, 26th in league scoring, lost 2-1 to the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday — a loss that eliminates L.A. from playoff contention and secures a place in the Stanley Cup tournament for the Nashville Predators, who hold the last wild card spot in the West.
The problem wasn’t a lack of chances for the Kings.
They had 35 shots on goal, with Mike Smith turning all but one aside and you couldn’t really blame the Arizona netminder for L.A.’s only goal, credited to Alec Martinez on one of the strangest plays of the season.
But tonight’s game was a microcosm of the entire season for the Kings.
They held a wide margin in shots on goal. But they also couldn’t find a goal when they needed it the most. They are now fifth in the league in shots-on-goal per game, while allowing the fewest shots against in the entire league.
The only thing missing has been the finish.
Coming down the stretch, the Kings scored 20 goals over an 11-game span. Twice in those 11 games, they were shut out and three times they were held to just a single goal.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi made a massive trade prior to the deadline, acquiring Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay because there were concerns about Jonathan Quick after he missed most of the season with a groin injury.
While the Kings made a move designed to bolster their goaltending by adding a player on an expiring contract, their only move to perhaps help the offense was acquiring 39-year-old Jarome Iginla from Colorado. Iginla has been decent with six goals and eight points in 15 games since the trade, but L.A.’s overall offense really hadn’t ignited like it needed to.
And for the second time in three years, they won’t make the playoffs.