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Kings miss playoffs due to inconsistency, lack of offense

Slow starts also major factor in failing to make postseason for third straight time

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Kings were eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center on Friday.

The Kings (21-25-6) are sixth in the eight-team Honda West Division and can finish no higher than fifth. The Vegas Golden Knights, Avalanche, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues have clinched playoff berths in the division.

Los Angeles has missed the playoffs three straight seasons and in five of the past seven. It had qualified in five consecutive seasons from 2010-14, winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014.

He's a look at what happened in 2020-21 for the Kings, and why things could be better in 2021-22.

 

The skinny

Potential unrestricted free agents: Troy Grosenick, G

Potential restricted free agents: Andreas Athanasiou, F; Blake Lizotte, F; Lias Andersson, F; Trevor Moore, F; Matt Luff, F; Drake Rymsha, F; Christian Wolanin, D; Kale Clague, D. 

Potential 2021 Draft picks: 8

 

What went wrong

Lack of consistency: The Kings were gaining traction and moving up in the West Division thanks to a six-game winning streak from Feb. 11-24. But they didn't win consecutive games again until they defeated the Arizona Coyotes on May 3 and 5. In between, Los Angeles went 10-18-3, which severely damaged their chances.

Low scoring: The Kings have scored 138 goals in 52 games this season, 25th in the NHL. Their 2.65 goals-per game average is tied for 21st. They have gotten 17 goals from their defensemen; Drew Doughty scored eight and five others combined for nine goals (Sean Walker with three, Matt Roy and Kurtis MacDermid with two each and Mikey Anderson and Tobias Bjornfot with one). 

Rough first periods: Los Angeles had a difficult time coming back from slow starts. They have been outscored 57-38 in the first period this season and are 4-16-4 when trailing after one. 

 

Reasons for optimism

Veteran production: Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 50 points (13 goals, 37 assists) in 52 games. The center scored his 1,000th NHL point, an assist, during a 4-2 win at the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday. Doughty is second with 34 points (eight goals, 26 assists) in 52 games and forward Dustin Brown is third with 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) in 49 games. Each of them own two Stanley Cup rings and still have something left in the tank.

Good young talent: Anderson is having a good rookie season, scoring 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in 50 games, and the 21-year-old has been learning from Doughty, his defense partner most of the season. Gabriel Vilardi had his ups and downs, scoring 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 50 games, but the 21-year-old center has plenty of upside. Center Quinton Byfield, selected No. 2 by the Kings in the 2020 NHL Draft, made his NHL debut on April 28 and the 18-year-old has one assist in six games. Center Alex Turcotte, 20, who the Kings selected No. 5 in the 2019 NHL Draft, has scored 18 points (three goals, 15 assists) in 30 games with Ontario of the American Hockey League.

Goaltending: Calvin Petersen should be the No. 1 going into next season. He's 9-16-4 with a 2.81 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 32 games (29 starts). His rise takes the onus off Jonathan Quick, who is 11-9-2 with a 2.86 GAA, .898 save percentage and two shutouts in 22 starts.

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