It’s Now or Never for Los Angeles Kings to Get the Most out of Their Lineup

After lifeless defeats to the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks, time is running out for the Los Angeles Kings' playoff hopes. They currently sit three points behind the Calgary Flames and two behind the Winnipeg Jets, with a game in hand on each squad.

The team was seemingly headed in the right direction only days ago, but a few questionable roster decisions have caught up and conspired to stifle LA's offense during the worst possible stretch of the season.

If head coach Darryl Sutter's squad is to scrap its way to the postseason, it must optimize its lineup, putting its players—and, consequently, the team—in the best positions to succeed.


Fortify the Bottom 6

LA's offense has dried up in the past two contests, producing a measly two goals over that span.

Given the streakiness of the team's attack in 2014-15, it must find strength in numbers—in depth. The third and fourth lines, as presently constructed, simply don't offer enough offensive potential to support the Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter units.

Nick Shore boasts a surprisingly mature game for a 22-year-old, but he's managed just one goal—off his skate, no less—and seven points in 30 games.

That just won't cut it when slotted next to captain Dustin Brown.

Meanwhile, Mike Richards has continued to toil on a unit with Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan. He's miscast as a disciplined, steady fourth-liner—he's a gambler and heart-and-soul playmaker who requires at least a modicum of skill to finish off his passes.

Nolan and Clifford don't appear to understand how to play with Richards, often hesitating for a half-second both in possession and on defense.

On Monday night, Clifford gets petrified by the loose puck, losing inside leverage on Niklas Hjalmarsson at the point. This allows the Blackhawks defender to stroll...

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