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02-11-2013, 05:52 PM
LA Kings
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Guess it is time to panic:


Time for: Panic

Why: The champs are in a rut and don't seem to be able to find their way out. They are struggling to score and aren't playing well enough defensively to overcome it.

They're minus-9 in goal differential (22-31). Anze Kopitar and Kyle Clifford lead the team in scoring, but they have only six points each. Mike Richards has just one goal and Jeff Carter doesn't have an assist yet this season. Dustin Penner has been a healthy scratch and Drew Doughty is a minus-10.

If they could have pulled out a win in Detroit on Sunday, maybe the Kings would have something to build on, but instead Jonathan Ericsson scored with 4.5 seconds left in regulation to lift the Wings to a 3-2 victory.

"They didn't score easily in the playoffs, but they were able to be really comfortable in tight games and were able to find a way to play with the lead," Button said. "This year, they haven't had the same luxury."

Why has it been such a struggle?

Part of the blame has to go to injuries to key defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell -- a pair of penalty killers and big, physical blueliners who can eat up lots of minutes. Greene is done for the season after back surgery and Mitchell hasn't played yet due to offseason knee surgery.

"It's not that you don't have depth, but now you're asking players to carry more minutes and are they capable of contributing when they do," Button said. “Drew Doughty has to carry more of the load. Slava Voynov is asked to do more. Rob Scuderi is asked to do more. [Alec] Martinez fell into that 5-6 area and when you get those injuries, you're asking him now to play top-four minutes. Everybody gets extended and from a defensive point of view, that becomes a challenge.

"I mean, Mitchell and Greene, it's penalty killing and being able to clean up the front of the net. Those aspects are so key to not spending time in your own zone. The more time you spend in your own zone the less time you have to try to generate offense. That's the one thing I thought L.A. did a tremendous job of last year in the playoffs -- they were able to not give up very much in their own zone and not spend a lot of time in their own zone."

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