A Long Road Trip and the Curious Case of Brandt Clarke

The Kings embarked on their longest road trip of the season, going 0-1-2 during a small homestand. During two of the losses, were blown leads against Edmonton and Detroit, resulting in dagger shootout losses. Toronto came to LA and, for one of the few times this season, completely outplayed the Kings in their barn. Obscurity through defensive breakdowns to the NHL’s stingiest defensive team opens the gateway to what could be a defining road trip.

The Kings are not without their chances and have carried play for most games they have played. Most recently, however, their structure and defensive core have been penetrated for uncharacteristic breakdowns in which the team has struggled to tread water after their hot start to the top three spots in a tightly contested Pacific Division and Western Conference.

Their road trip started in Washington, except for the Toronto game, and they continued their first-period trend-dominant play. The Kings would not end up on the boards first but battled back to tie and even take the lead twice. Kevin Fiala. Fiala had one of his best games this season, having two critical goals to make the Kings look like the game was entirely in their hands. With three posts and no cigar, the Kings conceded a stoppable goal for the game-tying shot. The Capitals would turn to a previous Norris favorite, once who, throughout his career, has received flack for being an assist lackey to Alex Ovechkin, in John Carlson. Last-minute goals are the toughest to give up, especially if it is a go-ahead in the final minute. These are professionals, and within the group, a championship culture core can fight through this. That’s a challenging game to shrug off, which came after a stretch in which the Kings haven’t been at their best or remotely consistent with what they were producing to start the year.

The trip gets more challenging. They will visit Tampa, a building that has been a house of horrors for the Kings. Then they will face the Stanley Cup runner-up Florida Panthers, the Red Wings, who just beat them in a game that resulted in the shootout but was chippy throughout. They will finish with Carolina and then a Western Conference juggernaut in Dallas. That’s four teams that are challengers to win the Stanley Cup, genuine contenders. On their first, and hopefully only five-game skid of the season, the Kings will have to truly put their road reputation to the test. Three wins would be a massive success for this team, with Edmonton and Seattle having steadied their courses. This will be an arduous task, but the Kings have all the tools or players to make it happen.

Power Play Woes and a Shakeup

New lines were implemented during the lackluster performance against the Maple Leafs. The newly implemented line of Laferriere-Dubois-Kempe has been strong since their upstart, but the rest of the lines have been hit or miss. A shakeup amongst the lines could have translated over to special teams. The Powerplay went 1/22 before their 2/3 performance in Washington. Though that may not be able to hold over, mainly due to the plethora of left-handed shooters on each unit, one thing is for sure: Brandt Clarke is here. Though Spence did not deserve a demotion, Clarke was feasting in the AHL, boasting seven goals and 25 assists for 32 points in 30 games, leading all AHL defensemen. Clarke is an enigma for the LA Kings. He is one of the only recent prospects outside Quinton Byfield, who is a surefire impact player. The young defenseman will have his look to see how much he has developed at the AHL level, but this seems more temporary than anything. Spence was not the reason for the team’s struggles, and Clarke had reached new highs in his career trajectory while in the A. Clarke will get his taste in the NHL but will most likely return to the AHL to continue building his game. As mentioned, the Kings calling up Clarke was not a remedy to fix their recent skid. Interestingly enough, he can face Jamie Benn for the first time since this nasty hit last year.

It is a curious move by Rob Blake but an opportunity to utilize the fire in Clarke that this team desperately needs.

Also, Calling Viktor Arvidsson, where art thou?

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Connor Doyle

US Navy Veteran and UCLA Class of 2024. Background in International Development Studies. Los Angeles born and raised. Following hockey for over a decade.

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