Engineering a better road performance is a primary objective for the Kings 21 games into the 2014-15 season. With one win away from Staples Center on the year, the club that has established itself as one of the stronger road teams in the league – it finished with identical 23-14-4 records at home and on the road last season – hasn’t held true to that identity through the quarter pole.
“We haven’t showed that we’re a good road team this year, but in the past we have, and we need to get back to that,” Drew Doughty said. “We know we’re comfortable on the road – we’re comfortable at home as well – but when we come on the road we play with a hungry mentality. They always say the ‘road mentality game,’ and we’re good at that game, so we need to get back to that and start winning more on the road.”
One area that can be improved is the way the team starts games on the road. The Kings have ceded the game’s first goal in six of eight away contests, and of those six, they have fallen behind by multiple goals four times.
It’s a topic at the forefront following a game in Dallas in which Los Angeles was outscored 3-0 in the first period en route to an eventual 4-0 deficit in a game they ultimately lost, 5-4.
Though the Kings showed good life early in Dallas, drawing the game’s first three penalties, they weren’t as opportunistic as the home team, which scored three times over the period’s final five-and-a-half minutes in opening up a wide margin.
“I think it’s really just everyone having a good first shift,” Dustin Brown said. “It didn’t happen in Dallas because we ended up drawing penalties, which is a good thing, but then our power plays weren’t very good, and for guys who aren’t on the power play, it’s a tough start for them because they don’t get a good regular shift. It makes it easier if our power play is getting momentum against Dallas, but it’s a work in progress.”
The unfinished product will look to solidify in a difficult match-up Tuesday against the upstart Nashville Predators, who are 7-1-1 at Bridgestone Arena this season and in second place in the competitive Central Division with a 13-5-2 overall record.
“When you’re playing on the road, teams, if they have a lead after the first period, they’re usually pretty good at shutting it down in their home arena, so we definitely need to get better starts,” Doughty said. “That’s what’s hurting us right now.”
“We will [improve]. We will. We’re going to turn it around really quickly here. Our veteran guys are going to step up to the plate, and everyone’s going to follow in, and we’re going to be a good starting team, starting tomorrow.”
Dustin Brown, on having watched Nashville “on film”:
I mean we watch video, but that’s really only part of it. We know Weber’s a big weapon for them on the back end, that definitely brings awareness to them. Him, and Rene’s obviously the other key guy for them in our opinion, so we have to make it really hard on him.
Brown, on Nashville’s top line of Ribeiro, Forsberg and Neal:
They’re playing well, they’re getting, from the looks of it, lots of goals, and Neal, historically, has been a pretty big goal scorer, so it’s important for us to be hard on those guys.