Struggling Kings lose again as heat on McLellan turns up
The Los Angeles Kings have just one win since Dec. 28, dropping the team to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Kings lost 2-1 to the Nashville Predators on Thursday, just hours after general manager Rob Blake gave head coach Todd McLellan a vote of confidence.
TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston said prior to Thursday's game that the pressure on McLellan is getting turned up, with the Kings now owning a 1-6-4 record over their past 11 games.
"It’s getting turned up. It’s never a good sign when you’re the general manager in Rob Blake getting asked publicly about if he’s thinking about firing his head coach, in this case Todd McLellan," Johnston said on Insider Trading. "On this day, Blake told reporters that it’s not something that even remotely crossed his mind. But I think it’s a sign of where things are at with that team, who have won one of their last 10 games entering play on Thursday.
"There’s not a lot of help on the horizon in terms of trade action because the Kings do not have much cap room at this point in time. McLellan just signed an extension just before the start of the regular season through next year and he’s had a lot of success there.
"They’re going to try to keep things as positive as they can and get out of this themselves."
After allowing five goals in each of their two most recent losses, the Kings held the Predators offence in check Thursday but could not solve Juuse Saros, who made 33 saves for the victory.
“We fixed one area tonight, we didn’t give up a lot,” McLellan said post-game. “When we did, I thought (David) Rittich played really well. The other end of the rink, you got to score goals to win. For only giving up two, we should be able to win every night.”
McLellan is in his fifth season as head coach of the Kings. Los Angeles has reached the playoffs in each of the past two years, but have yet to win a playoff round under the 56-year-old.
"Like I said, our philosophy here for the past three, four years is on the structure and the system and the design, in the buy-in of the players, and [McLellan has] gotten that from the players," Blake said Thursday in defence of his head coach. "I'm going to rely on the players and the leadership to get us out of that."