The Longest Road Trip is Over: Observations

The Kings went on an incredible and historic run of play on the road to start the year.

Embarking on an arduous road trip is never easy, albeit facing four premiere teams in the NHL. Every team has to go through challenging road teams, as this is no excuse to rationalize why they went on their worst skid since 2019. The organization has limited options to plug in and out to switch gears, as we saw McLellan swap linemates frequently throughout the skid and even a curious call-up of potential star defenseman and prospect Brandt Clarke. The Kings are bound to a precarious cap situation with some relief coming from the Viktor Arvidsson LTIR and, now, recently, the Pheonix Copley ACL repair surgery. Make no mistake, this is an upper-echelon team with hopes of making it out of the first round of playoffs, or else structural changes will be made. The team was truly tested on this road trip, and the casual and professional observers posed some critical questions to highlight the weaknesses that may prove fatal later this spring.

McLellan becomes the first target on Twitter.

The organization invested in Todd and his system back in 2019. The players respect him and his message; he isn’t going anywhere. I was one of the individuals who clamored for Bruce Cassidy upon his departure from Boston, as he left for Vegas and raised lord Stanley in his first year as the Golden Knights coach. The Kings have the fifth longest-tenured Coach in the NHL. Todd carries tremendous respect from around the league. One may point out some disastrous playoff losses, but on the flip side, he has had the opportunity to learn from those experiences. A coaching change at this point is not unprecedented, but it would represent a flash point for a franchise striving to achieve an above status quo to a fan base that requires greatness every year. What does that signify to the group? The Kings are all in right now; changing the helm would have to come after a much longer skid than they faced. The Kings were also 0-4-4 in those games, with most being one-goal losses. It’s been very tight, and there is little wiggle room against contending teams.

Dubois

Dubois has been subject to a plethora of heat for his play and contract, never able to live down his reputation from his prior playing days in Columbus and Winnipeg. At this point, it’s deservedly so. He has had flashes of greatness, shrouded by his inconsistent play. He came in as a force on the powerplay but has yet to impact either unit profoundly. He’s spent time between the third and fourth lines during the road trip, and while he has gotten on the board for goals in back-to-back games, he has yet to consistently put together the package for which the Kings sought him out. Dubois, if he puts it all together consistently?

He puts the team in a dramatically different position. With Blake Lizotte having a questionable timeline, it is up to the center depth to step up, highlighted by the necessity for the significant off-season acquisition to play to his potential. Dubois can open up some breathing room for Danault and Kopitar at his best. The Danault line has feasted on competition over the last stretch, and while that is not entirely on the play of Dubois, it certainly is an aspect that cannot be ignored.

Both the player and the coach are going nowhere. They are here to stay. Things must go disastrous following their breaking of the skid for Todd to get let go. Dubois is here to stay as well. He got the contract he wanted; he’s in the place he wanted; he needs to remain consistent and play his part to be a Stanley Cup-contending team.

1-3-2 to finish the longest road trip of the year isn’t something the organization can be proud of, but they can now move on and improve on their game. The big test comes Thursday vs. Nashville to see if they can right their home record woes.

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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