The Los Angeles Kings will try to end a four-game losing streak Tuesday night when they host the San Jose Sharks.
The Kings are coming off two straight losses at the Vegas Golden Knights last weekend.
Injuries to defenseman Matt Roy (undisclosed) and Sean Walker (face), and forwards Matt Luff (undisclosed) and Martin Frk (lower body), as well as the absences of forwards Andreas Athanasiou and Blake Lizotte to COVID-19 protocol, have forced the Kings to look deeper into their organization for replacements.
“We’re a young team,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said after a 4-3 loss to Vegas on Sunday. “We’re a team that’s working its way through a lot of adversity with bodies missing and that type of stuff.”
Rookie forward Arthur Kaliyev, playing in his NHL debut, scored his first goal in a 3-1 loss to the visiting Anaheim Ducks last Tuesday. And Sunday, Jaret Anderson-Dolan — playing in just his 11th career game in his third NHL season, and second game this season — scored his first NHL goal.
“Obviously, it’s good to get that first one out of the way,” Anderson-Dolan said. “Now I can just play my game and not have to worry about that.”
San Jose has yet to play a home game this season because Santa Clara County had a contact sports ban in place, which recently expired.
With two more games at Los Angeles remaining before the Sharks come home, they’re looking for improvement after going 1-2-1 in their past four games. San Jose coach Bob Boughner just can’t pinpoint any particular area.
“It’s about doing the simple things, making simple plays instead of trying to overcomplicate things,” Boughner said. “Generally, making the first easy play and opening up your options.”
San Jose has received solid starts to the season from forwards Logan Couture and Evander Kane, each with eight points in 10 games, but the Sharks could use a boost from forward Timo Meier and defenseman Erik Karlsson, who have just eight points between them (including just one goal).
Meier led the Sharks with 49 points (22 goals, 27 assists) in 70 games last season, but has been held to five points (one goal, four assists) through 10 games, with three of those points coming in the second game.
Karlsson, fourth on the Sharks last season with 40 points (six goals, 34 assists) in 56 games, has no goals and three assists in 10 games this season.
“Physically and mentally, I’m feeling way better than I expected,” Karlsson said. “I haven’t found a way to be as creative as I’d like. I should be able to do more. Why I haven’t, I don’t know.”
Karlsson is also a key component on the power play, but the Sharks have converted just one of 26 man-advantage situations in the past seven games.
“If we can find ways to create momentum on the power play, it will help our 5-on-5,” Karlsson said.
McLellan said he is not overly concerned with his team’s power play, saying he wants to see more productivity at even strength. The Sharks, after all, have balanced their dearth of power-play goals by killing off 86.5 percent, third-best in the league.
“I think it’s in a good spot right now,” McLellan said of the power play. “There’s going to be nights where we’re going to execute well, there’s going to be nights where the opponent we play does a good job to stop it. Sometimes, the goalie’s going to get in the way, and some nights we’ll get a lucky one where it sneaks in. I’m more concerned about our 5-on-5 play.”
–Field Level Media