To be certain, this season hasn’t started the way the Kings had hoped. Through 23 games, they’re 10th in the Western Conference and their scoring average is tied for 25th in the NHL. That’s the bad news. The good news? There’s significant room for improvement, and nobody is pulling away. Entering tonight’s game, one point separates first-place San Jose from the fourth-place Kings in the Pacific Division (although the Sharks have three games in hand) and in the conference, only seven points separate first-place Chicago from 11th-place Nashville. Point is, nobody is running away with anything. Of course, it’s up to the Kings to turn things around, and tonight would be a good place to start. Terry Murray said he doesn’t see games like the one against the Sharks as “measuring-stick games,’’ but does see them as important games.
MURRAY: “They’re very important games, division games, rivalry games. When you end up playing a team like San Jose in the playoffs, the rivalry heats up as a result of that. We want to come and play our game, and we want to be better at it for the 60 minutes. I thought, in the start against Chicago, passes were not completed, we turned the puck over too many times. In the second and third, it got better. We had many good looks. We had opportunities to tie the game, win the game, in my opinion. We’ve got to find a way to get that done, but it has to be for 60 minutes. And it’s always about the L.A. Kings, in my opinion. We’ll have a little bit of a different look here today, with line combinations. The players are going to show us an answer, one way or the other here.’’