Darryl Sutter Hurting Los Angeles Kings with Ill-Fated Decisions

Coming off three straight long postseasons, the Los Angeles Kings were inevitably set to fall prey to fatigue—both physical and mental—in 2014-15.

Even with that factor in mind, though, the defending Stanley Cup champions have underperformed thus far. L.A. sits in fourth in the Pacific Division and is clinging to the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot for dear life.

This team is better than that.

Head coach Darryl Sutter should claim a fair portion of the responsibility for the poor start, as his lineup and usage decisions have been dismal and will continue to plague the club until he puts his players in a position to thrive.


Kopitar-Carter Duo

Two of Los Angeles’ key contributors are mired in slumps at the moment, and it appears playing together has exacerbated the issue.

Over the past seven games, Anze Kopitar has mustered two points and a wretched minus-eight rating. Jeff Carter has posted two points and a minus-five rating in that span.

Pairing them on the same line has yielded horrendous results, yet Sutter keeps going to back to that well, offering the duo a ton of ice time despite the outcome and stronger showings from bottom-six pivots Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards.

Slotting two natural centers together is always a dubious move, as it forces one to assume winger duties—clearing pucks along the wall, covering opposing point men, etc.—they aren’t accustomed to.

The Kopitar-Carter combination hasn’t managed to avoid that pitfall:

Beyond stifling the offense of both players, this lineup decision has wreaked havoc on the top line's fundamentals.

The breakout is stalling along the wall because Carter isn't a proper winger, and that same bugaboo is muddying the club's defensive assignments. Due to role confusion, the ...

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