This is an issue that I’ve tried to explore a couple times this season, either by asking direct questions or question that infer. The Kings, a couple times this season, have tended to dip severely immediately after reaching a high point in the standings. Now, some of this is completely natural, and within the natural ebb and flow of a season, but this is now the second time this season that a rise to fourth in the West (or higher) has been followed by a stark dip in results. Since the Kings rallied to beat Detroit on Feb. 6, and rise to fourth in the West, they’re 4-5-2.
I didn’t raise the “complacency” issue today, but it came up organically when I asked Rob Scuderi if, as a veteran player who lifted the Stanley Cup last year, he saw issues popping up with this young Kings team late in the season. Scuderi had some good analysis, and I also asked Terry Murray about the issue…
SCUDERI: “I think there’s a little bit of complacency. We set ourselves up in a fantastic way before the Olympic break, when we had that nine-game streak and then, I don’t know how many of the previous 16 we had won, but certainly we set ourselves up nicely. A little bit of complacency and not the best attention to detail. That’s hurting us right now. But we had a good meeting this morning, and let’s hope that we nipped it in the bud right now, because we don’t want it to snowball into something more.”
Question: When you go through periods like that, do you just have to play yourselves out of it? Just bring attention to it and work through it?
SCUDERI: “That’s part of it, but this is a different time of the season. When you’re at game 40 or 50, you can pull yourselves out of it. A lot of other teams are in the same spot, with the schedule and the grind in the middle of the year, but this is the hardest time of the year to play. Playoff teams are trying to set themselves up and trying to enter the playoffs on the right foot. The teams that are out, guys are playing for jobs. Everyone is playing for something at this time of year. No win is going to come as easy — not that they ever come easy — but they’re going to be harder to come by than they were from November to mid-January. That’s just the way it is.”
Question: You mentioned the meeting today. Was there anything that needed to be specifically addressed?
SCUDERI: “Just airing some of this stuff out. Nothing complicated. We just have to play like a team more. Last night was a classic example. We weren’t generating much. We had tremendous spaces between the D and the forwards, we couldn’t get the puck stopped up and we couldn’t get our offense going. If we’re going to have success, from here on in, that has to change. Hopefully it’s a good wake-up call for us, and we can move on.”