The Los Angeles Kings don’t deserve to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the way they played in 5-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday, coach Todd McLellan said.
The Kings (14-17-6) fell behind 3-0 in the opening 7:28 and lost their third straight sixth in seven games (1-6-0). They’re seventh in the eight-team Honda West Division, nine points behind the fourth-place Coyotes.
The top four teams in the division qualify for the playoffs.
“Let’s face it, we don’t deserve to be in the playoffs if we don’t have the intensity to play to get to the playoffs,” McLellan said. “It’s as simple as that. I think there’s enough guys that have been there and know that the journey to the playoffs is just as hard as the journey through the playoffs.
“We have a pipe dream of making the playoffs with the type of commitment and intensity that we brought to the rink tonight, and maybe a couple of other games over the last little bit.”
The Kings were four points out of a playoff spot following a 4-2 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on March 31 but have been outscored 11-4 since then. The Coyotes have won three in a row.
Los Angeles will have a chance to make up ground when it hosts Arizona again Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; BSW, BSAZ+, NHL.TV), but knows it will need to play with more urgency.
“It should have been a call to action games ago,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “We put ourselves in a good spot, and the last two weeks or so we’ve absolutely shot ourselves in the foot, and now we got a lot of work to do, a lot of climbing to do, a lot of winning to do. … We just need to be better, that’s it.”
The Kings couldn’t overcome a poor start or Michael Bunting‘s first NHL hat trick Monday. They made a push in the third period, outshooting the Coyotes 18-9 and closing within 4-2 on Andreas Athanasiou‘s goal at 2:10 before Christian Dvorak sealed Arizona’s victory with an empty-net goal at 19:26.
“I think that’s what’s been lacking for the last five games,” Doughty said. “We haven’t had any intensity, anyone competing. I shouldn’t say that. We’ve had some guys competing every single game, and we’ve had others take games on, play good games, and take games off. I mean, we’re down 4-1 in the third period, I’d sure hope that we’re playing a little more desperate. But it’s absolutely ridiculous that we didn’t play like that in the first or the second.”
Doughty said the Kings must do that from the drop of the puck Wednesday.
“Compete. Act like you’ve earned your spot in this lineup and on our team and run with it,” he said. “Don’t sit around hoping you’re going to get more shifts. Take your chance and run with it. I think some guys are just worried about being in the lineup, and I mean I understand that, but at the same time we need our second and third core guys as [well] as our top core guys to all step up right now. Play as if it’s a playoff series every single series we play in and that’s it.”
NHL.com independent correspondent Dan Greenspan contributed to this report