Offense Sputters, Kings Drop 4th in a Row

Simon Gagne (12) looks defeated. His team has lost four in a row and six of their last eight.

Other headlines I considered include “Pretty in Purple, Ugly Everywhere Else” and “A Case of Extraordinary Indifference.” Both sum up tonight’s effort from the Kings fairly well and quite frankly, do a better job of describing the game so one’s eyes won’t have to look at the statistics.

The Kings lost to the Dallas Stars earlier tonight by a score of 2-1. They were outshot 28-27 and committed 10 penalties within the allotted 60 minutes of gameplay. Add that to the 13 giveaways registered by the home squad (all of which seemingly occurred in their own end of the ice), and you are left with an undisciplined team that can’t seem to break out of whatever funk this is.

Of course, one must give credit where credit is due. The Stars refused to take their foot off the gas pedal while leading by one in the third period; as a result, the Kings were never able to stay in the offensive zone and maintain any sort of momentum. Rookie goaltender Richard Bachman stood firm in his first career NHL start and earned the win while stopping 26 of the 27 shots he faced. Jamie Benn and Trevor Daley provided the goals for the visitors in the first and second period, respectively.

Kings backup goalie Jonathan Bernier performed admirably in a spot start, allowing only 2 goals on 28 shots but alas, it failed to be enough yet again for this sputtering offense. Tonight marked the eighth game in a row in which Los Angeles was unable to net more than 2 goals. It’s a trend that looks to have engulfed the players as well as head coach Terry Murray, and leaves fans wondering when we might see the end of this awful stretch of hockey.

It was center Brad Richardson who was responsible for the Kings only score of the night. He netted his first of the season thanks to a shorthanded odd-man rush with Anze Kopitar. Richardson faked a pass and lifted the puck past Bachman’s outstretched blocker.

Overshadowed by the loss was the return of veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell. The wily blue-liner provided what spark he could with a scrap against the Stars’ Steve Ott nine minutes into the first period, although the rest of his teammates were unable to capitalize off of that energy. Mitchell finished the evening with 20:04 total ice time and a +1 rating.

Perhaps it will be the upcoming East Coast swing that supplies this team with the confidence and direction they so badly need. Murray will presumably have the long flight to rack his brain of any possible shake-ups in order to get his offense going. If he fails to do that and the team continues their slumping ways, the 4th year coach may be handed a set of walking papers much sooner than he would have anticipated. After all, the blame has to fall on somebody. With his players performing in their current uninspired manner, where else would that blame lie?