Darryl Sutter’s Poor Decisions Costing Los Angeles Kings in Round 2

No one should shoulder more of the blame for the Los Angeles Kings' current three-game skid than Darryl Sutter.

It’s a counterintuitive notion, given the sterling record the head coach has produced since joining the Kings in 2011-12. The franchise’s only Stanley Cup was followed by a Western Conference Final appearance in 2013, which represents the most successful stretch in club history.

Nevertheless, he’s put his players in every position to fail in their second-round clash against the Anaheim Ducks.

After seizing a 2-0 series lead, Sutter senselessly broke from a winning formula and has seen his squad drop three straight contests to sit on the brink of elimination as a result.

Here’s how Sutter has put his team’s season in peril.


Forward Lines

They weren’t perfect, but they appeared to be working.

From Game 3 of the first round to Game 3 of the second, the Kings more or less stuck with the same forward units, dropping only two out of eight outings in that span.

On Saturday, with a 2-1 edge in the Anaheim series, Sutter inexplicably reunited Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, disrupting the chemistry developed on a pair of lines (second and fourth) in one fell swoop.

The former Philadelphia Flyers haven’t clicked in about a year and were once again ineffective together—the only chances generated came from Richards and Tanner Pearson buzzing around the puck.

Carter was utterly irrelevant as a winger.

More importantly, the duo simply doesn’t jell on defense. Icing two natural centers together is asking for trouble, as one will be forced into the uncomfortable role of winning puck battles along the boards to either clear the defensive zone or extend possessions on attack.

Also, defensive reads differ from center to wing, causing hesitation for a...

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