Sat, 06 Jun 2020

Kings begin road trip against Red Wings

Sports Xchange
10 Dec 2018, 14:07 GMT+10

Not so long ago, the Los Angeles Kings were considered Stanley Cup contenders.

Not so long ago, the Detroit Red Wings were viewed as a soft, skilled team.

My, how times have changed.

The Wings (13-13-4) have become a rough and tumble bunch, leading the NHL with 10 fighting majors. The Kings (11-18-1), who visit Detroit's Little Caesars Arena on Monday to launch a week-long, four-game road trip, have become a bumbling bunch and sit 30th overall in the NHL.

However, L.A. does arrive in the Motor City off perhaps the team's most complete performance of the season, Saturday's 5-1 thrashing of the defending Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights in what was the 2,000th regular-season home game in Kings franchise history.

"It's probably one of our more dominant wins and we actually played a good team here in Vegas, (a) very good team," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty told "It was a full 60 minutes. I thought everyone played hard.

"There wasn't one guy that took a night off. So when your team does that, you're going to win more hockey games and hopefully we realized that because we need to win more."

Just one day earlier, Doughty had described the Kings' season to date as "embarrassing," calling the team out for "playing with a lack of emotion."

Nikita Scherbak, claimed off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 2, scored in his Kings debut.

"That's probably one of those moments that is going to stick to my memory for a while, definitely," Scherbak said.

Scherbak also scored in his NHL debut with the Canadiens on Jan. 7, 2017.

The Kings tied their season high for goals in a game and will be looking to win back-to-back games for just the third time this season.

In the Wings, L.A. will be meeting up with a team that has struggled to live with prosperity. Four times in the last three games, Detroit has blown leads of two or more goals.

The Wings squandered 2-0 and 5-3 leads in losing 6-5 in a shootout to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Thursday at Toronto, Detroit allowed the Leafs to rally from a 4-1 third-period deficit, but came away with a 5-4 overtime victory. The Wings weren't as lucky at home on Saturday, frittering away a 2-0 first-period edge in a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders.

"I would say this is way different than the last two in the sense that it's 2-0 but it's early in the game," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill told after Saturday's setback. "I don't think that's that uncommon.

"The last two were way different in the sense we had a two-goal lead in the third period (against Tampa), (and a) three-goal lead in Toronto, and they came back."

As to his team's sudden turn to toughness, Blashill is fine with that development, even though it cost them right-winger Anthony Mantha, gone 4-6 weeks after breaking his hand in a fight last week.

Saturday, both Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader dropped the gloves.

"We certainly have said this before and we suffered the consequences with Mantha being out, but if you have a team that doesn't want to stick up for each other you have a bad team," Blashill said. "They don't care about each other.

"We've got a team that cares about each other and wants to stick up for each other."

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