Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 2/17/12
LOS ANGELES, Calif. Columbus Blue Jackets star forward Rick Nash is on the trading block, and the Los Angeles Kings are allegedly one of a handful of teams he would waive his no-trade clause to play for, as reported by Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. And that's all well and good. If an available six-time 30-goal scorer just reaching his prime alludes to wanting to play at Staples Center, and the Kings have the resources and salary cap maneuverability to bring him aboard, it's a major opportunity to take advantage of. Rarely do players of Nash's caliber come along mid-season while the Kings are hungry for offense. Make that "starving" for offense. Nash would amount to little more than a snack that would hardly quell the team's voracious goal appetite, one that has hardly been satiated through the season's first 58 games. Los Angeles currently ranks last in the NHL with 2.07 goals per game after Thursday's 1-0 home loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. They've been shut out seven times in 2011-12, four games of which were winnable 1-0 losses similar to Thursday's effort. "It's nothing new," Anze Kopitar said with a hushed voice, answering questions similar to the ones he's answered all season long. "We've struggled pretty much the whole year, and again, we've got to find a way to score goals and win games." There should be major unease in the organization over the way certain players who earn a large paycheck haven't produced in accordance with the hefty salaries they're receiving. At what point do the Kings show concern over Drew Doughty, now nearly two years removed from his 16-goal, 59-point campaign that earned him a Norris Trophy nomination? While his five goals and 25 points this season aren't awful, his numbers are still off the mark from his 40-point lukewarm effort from a year ago, considering his dynamic ability. It's not a good sign that someone in the first year of a 56-million dollar contract is likely to see his production fall two consecutive years. There's Dustin Penner, who despite the good natured "Pancakes with Penner" event on Monday that raised over 3,100 for the Kings Care Foundation, is pulling in 4.25 million and has produced five goals and 13 points in 43 games. He has been a healthy scratch in three straight games. Though Mike Richards does so many things correctly on the ice Darryl Sutter called his hockey I.Q. "as good as there is" after practice on Tuesday he has no goals and two assists in 13 games. Despite the acuity with which he plays the game, he was acquired from Philadelphia to boost the offense and power play, something he hasn't been able to do consistently in his Los Angeles tenure. "Those guys that you say are supposed to be scoring are also playing defense and they've done a great job for us in our defensive zone," goaltender Jonathan Quick said. "They are one of the biggest reasons why we are so good in our defensive zone." And that's a valid point there's less attention paid to a deep defensive effort that suffocates opponents into frequent 1-0 and 2-1 games as the attention paid to the offensive struggles. Sutter might have referred to the NHL as "a 3-2 league", but only once in the last seven games have the Kings and their opponents combined for five goals. The deeper issue is that there are several high-profile players on this Los Angeles team who haven't put forth the production necessary for the franchise to emerge as one of the Western Conference's elite teams. Nash would be a huge help, but the greater concern is getting more out of players already on the team's roster. "It doesn't really matter if the effort and the chances are there," Kopitar said. "If you can't bear down on them, it doesn't really matter how hard you work and how many chances you create. "At the end of the day, the score counts, and two points that's what you've got to get." NOTES: Phoenix coach Dave Tippett summarized Thursday's game: "That was a very competitive game. We knew they were going to be competitive. We had to make sure that our team was very competitive. We talked about the importance of this game and where we are in the standings and where they are in the standings. We have to be all in if we're going to have a chance at winning this game and I thought we were all in. Good effort... We played a smart hard game and we found a way to win." Of the 62 penalty minutes assessed Thursday, 40 were from fighting altercations. Los Angeles' season high in combined penalty minutes with an opponent is 76, set in a 3-2 overtime win at Philadelphia on October 15. The Kings have killed off 22 of their last 23 penalties, though the one failed attempt occurred when Radim Vrbata beat Quick from the right circle Thursday for the game's only goal. Los Angeles is 10-4-4 against the Pacific Division.
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