Saturday, December 22, 2007

Why Are The LA Kings Last?

I think it is a bit of a surprise that the Los Angeles Kings are currently the last place team in the NHL. I didn't predict they would be great this year, but I did pick them for ninth in the West Conference. Instead, Los Angeles has a record of 12-23 (with two losses counted as regulation ties) and sits in last pace. They are three points behind anyone else.

Los Angeles has a pretty good young core of offensive players. They have Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Mike Cammalleri and Alexander Frolov who are all scoring at or near point per game paces. They have some other good forward in Ladislav Nagy, Patrick O'Sullivan, Michal Handzus and Kyle Calder who provide some depth. This offense has been middle of the road in the NHL (they are currently 16th with 2.66 goals per game) and has the potential to really catch fire if their young players all can break out together.

Their defence also has several proven NHL talents including Lubomir Visnovsky, Rob Blake, Brad Stuart and Tom Pressing. They should be able to have a better goals against than the 3.34 goals against per game they have put up (second worst in the league), but haven't been able to do it.

In goal, Jason LaBarbera has been good. He has put up a .911 saves percentage in twenty games. Those are respectable numbers for a number one goalie. However, their remaining goalies, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier have all played poorly. When LaBarbera missed the first half of December with a rib injury, the Los Angeles goaltending was really bad.

Looking at their roster, Los Angeles should not be a last place team. They should not allow as many goals as they have given their veteran defence. Their system has not worked. The blame for that should fall upon head coach Marc Crawford. Crawford has not had success coaching in LA. It would not surprise me to see him the next be the next coach fired in the NHL. Would that be enough of a boost to bring the Kings from last place?

Looking at the Kings roster, they have more talent than some of the teams in front of them (Washington, Atlanta, Phoenix and Edmonton are examples). They haven't been able to put that together to show any results. They have only won two of their last ten games (no team has a worse record over the last ten games). Right now things are bad in Los Angeles. I think they will get a bit better when LaBarbera finds his game again after his injury and when their good young offence begins to take flight. It seems likely that this might happen without Marc Crawford as coach. He hasn't been able to do anything to solve their problems.

They are in last because they don't have as many points as any other team.
1) Its starts in goal and then coaching. They were foolish this summer not to address this deficiency. If they had a top notch tender they would/should be a playoff contender!
2) That said, even with average goaltending this team should NOT be the worst team in the NHL. Crawford for the second strait year has not gotten it done. This season they on paper, have a good enough roster to compete. he needs to be replaced.
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