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Kings Have a Scoring Problem

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It’s no secret that the Kings have a scoring problem. Simply put they have difficulties putting the puck in the net as evidenced by being in the NHL basement in scoring goals. This scoring-itis reared its ugly head again in the Kings 2-1 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

Here’s the best analogy I could come up with about the Kings. If they were a football team, they would be good between the 20-yard lines. They can pile up the yards in the middle of the field, but when they get into the red zone they just can’t come through. Now hockey doesn’t have a “red zone”, but the Kings despite looking pretty strong in the offensive zone just can’t finish their possessions.

Kings’ head coach Darryl Sutter pointed out the second period of this game as why the Kings have trouble scoring.

“We started trying to make that little play across the net, and those certain things in the second period instead of putting it to the net and getting to the net. I like the percentages better when the goalie has to make the save.”

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Of course the officiating didn’t help things. When a deflection by Justin Williams into the net for an apparent goal by the Kings was waved off for a high stick 3:36 into the game, it was clear that video review in Toronto would uphold the “no goal” call on the ice. After all I might have a stroke before I can recall of a Kings getting a favorable call from Toronto at any point this year. According to Toronto:

At 3:36 of the first period in the Avalanche/Kings game, the referees on the ice ruled that Jack Johnson's shot was deflected by Justin Williams stick, which was above the cross bar and into the net. Video replay reviewed the play but was inconclusive, therefore the referee's call on the ice stands. No goal Los Angeles.

You could knock me over with a feather. An NHL official at STAPLES Center did say that it could have gone either way, so I guess there is that.

Sutter, of course, has his take on how the ruling should be handled.

“I disagree with the way we [NHL] handle that. I think every puck that goes in the net, unless the whistle went, should be called a goal. And because of what we have in Toronto, then we should rule from there.”

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In other words, Sutter believed that should be a goal and an oblique way of trying to avoid a fine.

Nevertheless the Kings dominated the Avalanche throwing the kitchen sink, the entire kitchen, hell, even the entire house at Varmolov. But time after time he thwarted the Kings’ first, second, third and even sometimes fourth chances. The Kings finally got on the scoreboard 1:34 in the second period when Dustin Brown stuffed a rebound off of Anze Kopitar’s behind-the-net stuff-in attempt. That was Brown’s tenth goal of the season.

One of the things that bothered the Kings a bit was the pressure the Avs used in the Kings’ zone. Like basketball teams using back-court pressure, it made the Kings uncomfortable getting the puck out of their zone. Despite being outplayed for most of the game, the Avs finally enjoyed the fruits of their labor as Kyle Clifford turned the puck over just outside the Kings’ blue line. Ryan O’Reilly got the puck from Kyle Quincey and shot it past Jonathan Quick to tie the game with 5:53 remaining in regulation.

Sutter made it clear that the Kings didn’t collapse in the third period.

“They’re not machines. I thought we played hard. Five [games] in eight nights… We played hard.”

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The Kings still have not lost in regulation under Sutter going 4-0-3. Their penalty-kill is still among the best in the NHL having killed 74 of their last 77. The Kings still hang on to first place in the Pacific Division for now. So it’s not all doom and gloom around these parts. But one would think the Kings will eventually need to ratchet up the scoring a little bit so as not to be compared with the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders. If not, they could probably wind up going nowhere like those teams.

In local Big West basketball action, Cal State Northridge beat UC Riverside 63-52; Long Beach State pulled away from UC Irvine in the second half 74-60; Cal State Fullerton edged Pacific 78-73.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

Houston Rockets at LA Lakers. 7:30 p.m. FSWest, AM 710 KSPN.