When the Kansas City Royals used to be a disaster in the regular season, they’d have this wonderful preseason run where they’d build up the hope of their fans, only to tear it down when games became meaningful.
It really outlined how insignificant preseason games were as a predictor for regular season success.
Why are we talking about Major League Baseball on a hockey blog?
Enter the Los Angeles Kings.
They finished up their preseason on Saturday with another dud in a 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. That followed a 2-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights the night before.
No goals in their final two preseason games, a dismal 1-6-1 preseason record, and then even more bad news as Dustin Brown was forced to leave Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury after taking a puck up high.
(UPDATE: Brown is out indefinitely with a broken finger.)
That’s not exactly what the Kings or their fans had in mind, especially after a summer that witnessed one of the league’s best defenseman re-sign with the club after some uncertainty and the signing of Ilya Kovalchuk to help boost their scoring woes witnessed in the playoffs after being swept by the Golden Knights.
Speaking after Saturday’s game, Anze Kopitar wasn’t hitting the panic button:
I don’t think we need to panic by any means, but we’ve got to know that puck management in that regard has to be a lot better. We have to sharpen up our game, for sure. Everybody in here knows that, and we’re going to work on it. It’s a big week ahead of us, and we’ll be ready for Friday.
Alec Martinez, meanwhile, pulled out the word “unacceptable” in Game 8 of the preseason. Yikes.
I think it’s twofold. One, it doesn’t matter what it is – you want to be winning games, especially heading into the year. Tonight was unacceptable. I think that it needs to be addressed, and it will be addressed. We’ve already talked about it. We’ve got a lot of work to do this week, because we’ve got a pretty good hockey club to play on Friday. I guess just use it as a learning experience. There are no experiences – the time is now.
Head coach John Stevens told The Athletic his team looked “slow” while taking the blame for the Kings’ schedule catching up to them, saying “some guys were asked to play a lot.”
Doughty was asked what went wrong. He didn’t have an answer.
I don’t know. We don’t have an answer for anything right now. We don’t know why we lost and why we were so poor this (preseason). But if it’s a chemistry thing, then we’re doing something wrong because we had all camp to create that chemistry.
These aren’t exactly inspiring quotes from the Kings; from coach to captain to everyone else.
The news of Brown being out any period of time that extends into the regular season would be a big blow in Los Angeles.
Brown enjoyed a year of resurgence in 2017-18, posting 28 goals and 61 points after not eclipsing the 40-point mark in each of the previous four years (27, 27, 28 and 36, respectively).
The Kings don’t open the regular season until Friday, so they have a few days to hit the reset button.
Adversity doesn’t pick sides, nor does it pick optimal times to hit a team. As such, the Kings look like they’ll be dealing with it right out of the gate this season.
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Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck