After the 2014 playoffs, I sort of figured that was pretty much it for the Kings, for the NHL, for hockey as a sport. There was not going to be a hockey spectating moment greater than that personally. You embarrass the Sharks to a historic degree, you embarrass the Ducks in their hall of famer’s last game, you beat the Blackhawks by coming back in game seven and scoring a goal off of their defender’s nuts in overtime, and the Rangers’ series...three overtime wins including the Cup winner.
That was the pinnacle. The potential of 2009 through 2011 was realized with 2012 through 2014. Now the window is closed seemingly. The league got faster, and it shouldn’t be surprising why Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter are the team’s highest scorers. It’s part of the reason why Dustin Brown has seen his production (and Dwight King and Milan Lucic somewhat) decline more and more. It works a bit more in the playoffs without a doubt, but the wins to get that far aren’t there.
The Kings are a big slow team and have been designed that way since Lombardi took over. The defense first, hard forechecking has been around since Terry Murray, and was implemented more effectively by Darryl Sutter. They need to get a bit faster.
Okay, a lot faster.
Because they suck right now.
They get caught chasing routinely, and are exposed by rushes against them more and more. They get nothing out of their own rushes, and those are scarcer than hen’s teeth. Yet faster, skilled players don’t get much of a shake with Lombardi/Sutter.
If it wasn’t for the run in 2014 I’d be enraged with how much this team squandered the last few years. Yes, 2012 was the first, but getting two championships seemed almost necessary given the “rebuild” to potentially be a contending team. And yes, there was plenty of potential still squandered after 2014, but nothing was going to top that year anyways.
That’s probably why it seems the fanbase is more indifferent than apoplectic. It might be why management has been the same way. Perhaps the players are in the similar mindset as well. Though they shouldn’t be, since it’s their opportunity they are pissing away.
Los Angeles won’t make the playoffs this year. It won’t be close. I don’t think they make the playoffs next year with a lack of high end talent available to boost them. It’s going to be ugly the next few years more than likely as the team handles massive long term contracts, yet finds itself struggling to keep up with faster teams like the Flames or even the Oilers.
It may not have to be a total rebuild that they went through a decade ago, but it’s going to take a lot more than what they currently have currently or projected. So enjoy the ride Kings fans. We had a good one.
Prediction: Kings lose 4-2.