Whatever's hexing the Kings can't be fixed by a switch - LA Kings Insider

The Kings practiced at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay on Friday, less than 24 hours after a loss to the Florida Panthers kept them five points out of the Western Conference’s final wild card spot with an additional calendar day leading up to the April 11 season finale removed from the schedule.

On the surface, the Kings appeared to be in adequate spirits despite the drop-off in the standings. They’re aware of the situation they’re in. They’re frustrated, even if they aren’t always demonstratively so when speaking with reporters during off-day practice sessions.

But deeper down, given the seven wins in 25 games during the dog days of what was supposed to be a legitimate defense to their second title in three years, there’s clearly a simmering umbrage towards the season’s direction in what has been a cruel calendar year of 2015.

“I hear you people say it all the time,” General Manager Dean Lombardi said. “You don’t even have to be the general manager or coach to get a feel for a room, right? And you guys have been around long enough, and you can sense it. It’s weird. But you know what? It’s not weird, because 50 years from now with these brain scans and understanding of neutrinos, we’re going to find out that there is a scientific basis for that innate feeling we get that we can’t explain.”

Neutrinos aside, that innate feeling has been with Lombardi for a long time – even since the club’s six-game winning streak in October.

“Let’s get real here, this has been going on all year,” he said. “We’d show signs, like Chicago we played well. We played well in Boston, and it looks like we’re coming, and then we get this. This has been a year-long thing. This whole ‘flick switch’ thing is the kiss of death if you look at history. The only difference now is you’re in February, right, but in reality you’re seeing the same things.”

The “flick switch” – a reference the club hears over and over again from those on the outside who look at the team’s championships that have followed standout if not exactly Presidents’ Trophy-caliber seasons and assume they’re capable of “flipping a switch” come playoff time – makes many in hockey operations bristle.

Nor does the theory that the team is worn down given the amount of hockey that it has played in the previous three seasons necessarily sit well with Lombardi. That’s not to say that the hypothesis is flawed, but rather that it can’t really be repeatedly tested.

“The answer doesn’t lend itself to a formula. It’s that feel part of the job,” Lombardi said. “What you’re saying is, whether it’s right or wrong, will anybody ever know? At least the premise has some credit, has some credibility. But you would still hate to think that at some point here, an athlete – I don’t care where he’s been – it’s like, was Jordan ever satisfied with three, four…? I guess that’s the counter-argument to that, that they get to this level because they’re great competitors and they never want to be embarrassed, regardless. He could have five rings and you don’t want to be embarrassed. So that would be the counter-argument to [that premise].”

“But then you’ve got the thing, is it physically possible? You’ve got a mental thing, right? Clearly that’s part of it. Your question lends itself to, is it possible to recoup over two months and then retrain?”

Using the context of Thursday’s loss, Darryl Sutter challenged the thought that mental blocks could be significantly impairing the direction of a team that has played games in June in each of the last three seasons.

“We have a good understanding of where we’re at, and then how hard it is to make the playoffs,” he said. “I think we’ve got past all the other stuff, but we’re in a position where it’s going to be tough. We know that. We thought we played really well last night, and that’s what we want to do tomorrow. After the game last night, when you guys asked, hey, we made two critical errors that cost us a hockey game. Those guys can not make those mistakes. If you make mistakes, you’re going to lose games, and that cost us a game last night.”

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.