As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention — either mathematically or by losing in the postseason — we’ll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2018-19, along with three keys to its offseason, impact prospects for 2019-20 and a way-too-early prediction on what 2019-20 will hold.
What went wrong
After the first 26 games of the season, the Los Angeles Kings were basically cooked, with a 9-16-1 record. Included in that span: a six-game losing streak and the firing of coach John Stevens just 13 games into the campaign, with Willie Desjardins replacing him on an interim basis. They had generated 2.11 goals per game at a time when offense was booming. Goalie Jonathan Quick, who has served as a slump buster in the past, only played five games from opening night through Nov. 29 due to injury.
As the Kings’ season limps to the finish line, they’re the worst offensive team in hockey and in the bottom 20 defensively. Anze Kopitar regressed hard, following his 92-point Hart Trophy finalist season with the second lowest points-per-game average of his career. Drew Doughty could end up with a plus/minus below minus-30, by far the worst of his career. Jeff Carter‘s return from injury saw him generate the worst goal-scoring season on average in his career.
What went wrong? Name it, and it probably did for the Kings.