DETROIT – Talk about puzzling.
Certainly, slow starts in a lockout shortened season, can spell doom, but it’s truly amazing to think that the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings are among the underachievers.
Sure, the Kings were the No. 8 seed in the West before they made their incomparable march to the Cup championship. But this year’s squad can’t find a way to put the biscuit in the basket.
Aside from center Jeff Carter, who has four goals in eight games, the rest of the Kings have 15 goals, including three each from right wing Dustin Brown and center Anze Kopitar.
The Kings are in the midst of a grueling three-week stretch where they play eight of nine games away from Staples Center. But Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey, who played a season in Los Angeles, said the Kings’ forwards have a way of wearing down the opposition.
“Their biggest strength is probably their attention to detail and they’re so good defensively,” said Quincey, who played for the Kings in 2008-09. “We’re going to have a challenge, and when we do get a chance to score we have to bury it. They’re a grind team. They go out and love their big forwards, right? They try to wear you do and we have to try and play in their zone as much as we can and try to limit them from buzzing around in our zone. That will be the challenge for this game.”
Sunday afternoon’s nationally televised game at Joe Louis Arena is the third stop on a five-game road swing for the Kings.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Center - LAK
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 5
SOG: 13 | +/-: 1
C ANZE KOPITAR -- Kopitar has three goals and two assists over the last five games with two goals coming in a win at Phoenix on Jan. 26. He missed the Kings’ banner-raising ceremony with a sprained right knee that he sustained while playing for Mora IK in Sweden in early January. While the Slovenian star has gotten off to a relatively slow in this compressed season, he has led the Kings in scoring in each of the last five seasons, producing 25 goals and 76 points during the 2011-12 campaign. In his career against Detroit, Kopitar has potted seven goals and 20 points with a minus-8 rating in 23 games.
Season Series: 0-0-0
2011-12 Season Series: 3-1-0
All-Time Series Record: 80-78-27-2
Los Angeles’ 2011-12 Season Record: 40-27-15
Top Scorer vs. Red Wings: Justin Williams – 2 Goals, 3 Assists in 4 Games.
Red Wings’ Top Scorer – Henrik Zetterberg – 3 Goals, 2 Assists in 4 Games; Niklas Kronwall – 2 Goals, 3 Assists in 4 Games; Johan Franzen – 1 Goal, 4 Assists in 4 Games.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
Tickets to this game and all 17 remaining regular-season contests at The Joe are currently available for purchase at the JLA box office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets, and online at DetroitRedWings.com.