Sharks, Kings each hope to snap losing streak
The picture isn’t pretty for either the San Jose Sharks or their combatants, the Los Angeles Kings, as the NHL season returns to action on Friday.
As the clubs renew acquaintances in San Jose, they find themselves in a three-way tie — along with the Anaheim Ducks — at the bottom of the Western Conference.
Looking into their recent play doesn’t make things any better. While the Kings arrive winless in their last three (0-2-1) and are technically at the bottom of the conference by virtue of having the most games played, the Sharks are in an uglier losing skid.
With a 3-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday, San Jose has dropped three straight games and has just one win in 10 outings (1-8-1).
“We’re not finding ways to get out of losing streaks,” captain Logan Couture said. “Good teams stop those skids after two or three. They don’t extend them to five or six. Unfortunately, that’s where we’ve found ourselves a lot this year.”
Three times already this season the Sharks have dropped four or more consecutive games in regulation, and the frustration is mounting. After all, this is a squad filled with experienced players who have a winning pedigree. Instead of having the savvy to excel in tight situations, the Sharks are withering when games are on the line. They have been outscored 51-27 in the third period this season.
“We’re a veteran team. I’d understand if we were dressing 10-12 rookies, but you can count the number of rookies on this team on one hand,” Couture said. “It is our veterans, not our young guys, who are making mistakes.”
The Kings won four of five in the middle of December, but have faded again and suffered a disappointing 4-1 home loss to the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 23. In that game, the team surrendered four goals in the first 13 minutes and looked unfocused after returning from a six-game road trip.
“We weren’t ready. I think that was pretty evident,” coach Todd McLellan told the Los Angeles Times. “There’s times where you come home from a trip and you’re a little bit concerned. Certainly with the break lingering also there was concern there, and my concern showed up.
“We could have come out of the game better had we just been responsible,” McLellan added. “Lack of a good start and lack of responsibility in two face-off situations and chase it all night against the Stanley Cup champs, that’s what you get.”
Los Angeles sitting near the bottom of the standings really isn’t that much of a surprise, since the Kings finished last in the Western Conference last season. Even still, they have a fair share of veteran players who don’t want to finish in that spot again.
“We’re not playing to just improve and rebuild this season,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “We’re trying to make the playoffs.”
Whether the Kings what to make the playoffs or accept their fate of being a lottery team, there is one message McLellan continues to preach.
“The will to win shouldn’t be any different.”
–Field Level Media