Kings continue to try to find themselves at home vs. Flames
The Los Angeles Kings were hoping their seven-game homestand would help steer their season in the right direction, but they'll still be trying to find their way when they host the Calgary Flames on Saturday night at Staples Center.
The Kings ended a six-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders in the first game of the homestand on Oct. 28 but then fired coach John Stevens a week later and replaced him with Willie Desjardins.
Los Angeles (5-9-1) seemed to take their game to another level in Desjardins' debut on Tuesday, out-hustling the Anaheim Ducks in a 4-1 victory, but couldn't build off that momentum on Thursday against the Minnesota Wild and lost 3-1, dropping their record to 3-2-0 on the homestand.
The Kings also had their home sellout streak end at 297 games.
"At this point in the year, we've got to get points to start climbing back into this thing," Kings defenseman Alec Martinez told reporters after the loss to the Wild. "Go back to the drawing board."
The Flames (9-6-1) should feel fresh after playing just once since last Saturday, a 3-2 loss at the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, ending a four-game winning streak.
Many eyes will be on the matchup between Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.
Tkachuk elbowed Doughty in the face during a March 2017 game, briefly knocking Doughty out of the game and prompting Doughty to call the then 19-year-old Tkachuk a "pretty dirty player."
Tkachuk was suspended by the NHL for two games, but their issues continued last season.
Tkachuk has become an even more valuable offensive player for the Flames this season, making his presence in the lineup more vital to Calgary's success.
After totaling 24 goals and 25 assists in 68 games last season, Tkachuk has seven goals and 12 assists in 16 games so far this season.
Calgary general manager Brad Treliving told the Calgary Sun that a skill that's gone unappreciated is Tkachuk's intelligence.
"His hockey IQ is elite. He thinks it so well," Treviling said. "Those players that think it so well, when they get around other players that think it so well, you can produce.
"It's a hard league to score in, we know that, but he's smart, he's courageous, he goes to where you need to score goals and he has skill. So he's certainly capable of putting up numbers."
The Kings conclude their homestand Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They entered Friday 10 points behind the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division but just six points out of the final playoff spot.
The schedule is still early, but Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. Teams in playoff spots at Thanksgiving often make the postseason in April.
"We're concerned with where we're at, but I think if you look at the standings we're not that far off," Toffoli said. "Every game matters for us right now, so we've got to find a way to win games here and get a little streak going."
Updated November 9, 2018