Dec 8, 2011, 12:11 PM EDT
The Los Angeles Kings are the NHL’s lowest scoring team. They rank dead last in goals per game (2.26) and 5-on-5 goals (36) and only have three players — Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Anze Kopitar — with seven goals or more.
Those ghastly numbers were enough for Kopitar to express frustration to Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider.
“I’d be lying if I said there was no frustration in the room. Everybody would like to score more goals,” Kopitar said. “Sometimes, for the guys, it’s almost better if you lose 5-4 than 2-1 or 1-0, because you have the sense that you did something out on the ice, that you did score a goal.”
Why L.A.’s scoring has fallen off a cliff is mysterious. Outside of a brutal, injury-ravaged season from Dustin Penner, the Kings have had all their offensive stars available. And it’s not like all the scorers are struggling — Kopitar is scoring at a point-a-game clip and prior to getting hurt, Richards was on pace for a career-high in goals.
That said, there are some theories as to why LA isn’t scoring:
— To acquire top-end talent like Richards and Gagne, the Kings were forced to jettison some of their depth. Last year’s key bottom-six guys (Wayne Simmonds, Michal Handzus, Alexei Ponikarovsky) are all playing elsewhere and their replacements (Ethan Moreau, Trent Hunter, Colin Fraser) have done zilch.
— Compounding the depth problem are guys that LA let walk or traded for nothing, like Matt Moulson (let walk as a FA), Teddy Purcell (traded for Jeff Halpern) and Brian Boyle (traded for a third-round pick) — all thriving with their new respective teams.
— GM Dean Lombardi told Hammond “we set out to put a strong defensive structure in place,” and “there’s no doubt in my mind that it starts back there and it’s critical for the playoffs.” This could be a case of a team sacrificing offense for defense, like what we’ve seen with Washington recently.
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