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Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings in danger of missing playoffs – SportsUntapped.com
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Added February 9th, 2015 by Ian

Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings in danger of missing playoffs
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After winning the Stanley Cup in impressive fashion in two of the last three NHL seasons, it looks like the Los Angeles Kings might not even make the playoffs this time around. As of February 8th the Kings were in 10th place in the Western Conference with 56 points, five behind the eighth-place Calgary Flames and the final playoff spot. The Kings were 22-18 in wins and losses and had also lost a combined 12 games in overtime/shootouts. They’d also scored 140 goals and allowed 141 against and were 21st in the 30-team league with just 31 games remaining in the season.

There are several reasons Los Angeles is struggling this year and we’ll take a look at some of them. First off, Slava Voynov, who is arguably the second-best defenceman on the team behind Drew Doughty, has been suspended for most of the 2014/15 campaign after he was arrested for alleged domestic abuse. Voynov is an effective blue liner who also has good offensive skills. To make things tougher for the Kings, most of the other teams in the Western Conference are better this year. Half a dozen of them have improved over last season. These include Calgary, the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.

With those clubs earning more points and the Kings capturing fewer, it could mean they miss the postseason. If the Kings hope to finish in the top eight they’re going to have to play a lot better on the road. They’ve won just five times away from the Staples Center and have 12 losses as well as six overtime/shootout defeats. No other team in the West has fewer than the Kings’ 16 road points. Last season, the club had the exact same record at home as on the road.

General manager Dean Lombardi more or less has his hands tied when it comes to making trades since the team is almost at the salary cap maximum. He sent veteran forward Mike Richards down to the American Hockey League (AHL) after he cleared waivers, but still has to pay Richards salary. Lombardi may now be regretting the fact that he didn’t buy Richards out during the offseason. Another area of the game the squad needs to improve in is their penalty killing as LA is 26th in the league in that department.

Some of the team’s offensive leaders have struggled this year when it comes to scoring points. Both Anze Kopitar and captain Dustin Brown are having a harder time finding the back of the net. And when you add this in with the struggling goaltending of Jonathan Quick it could spell trouble. Quick’s saver percentage has been under 90.0 in 14 out of his last 20 games. The Kings may be lucky the NHL gives out a point for an overtime/shootout loss as they’ve earned 12 points that way this year. Their shootout record is a league-worst 1-7 and Quick has saved just 60 per cent of shootout shots.

However, if the Kings do make the playoffs, the rest of the league certainly can’t afford to take them lightly. The team made the playoffs as the eighth and final seed in the West three years ago and went on to win the Stanley Cup. But their goal right now isn’t to be the first club since 1998 to defend their title, it’s to simply make the postseason.

 
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