LOS ANGELES—If the Kings are to make the climb from playoff team to Stanley Cup contender, they’ll need to figure out a way to beat those already at that level.
So far this season, they’re still getting schooled.
The Kings lost their seventh straight game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night and 10th in the last 11 meetings, 2-1, in front of another impatient, sold-out crowd at Staples Center
The Blackhawks were primed for a loss, having played the afternoon before in Anaheim, where they used considerable energy to rally back from a two-goal deficit in the third period and win, 6-5. They’d allowed 20 goals in the previous four games.
But the Kings could manage just one against the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions, losing for the first time in regulation this season when allowing two goals or less.
“Any time in this league, if you can keep a team to two goals or less, you’ve got to like your chances for a point and hopefully a win,” said Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi. “It wasn’t the case tonight;”
It’s not just the Blackhawks the Kings can’t seem to solve.
They’re a combined 0-4 this season against Western Conference powerhouses Chicago, Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose. Counting the playoffs, they were a combined 10-14-0 against those teams last season.
These same four teams combined to fill out the Western Conference finals the last three seasons.
Following the latest loss, the Kings are staring up at all three in the West after 23 games, which is more than a quarter way through the regular season.
“That’s where we have to start to believe we’re as good as those guys, or better than those guys,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “Our mindset is maybe off a little bit against those teams, and that’s the part we have to get back on track.”
The Kings will get another chance when San Jose pays a visit to Staples Center on Monday night.
“You definitely want to match up with Detroit and Vancouver and San Jose and Chicago and all the playoff teams that have had good runs lately,” said Kings center Anze Kopitar. “We’re going to have to figure it out and take that next step.”
In the meantime, they’ll continue staring up at the real contenders.