Can the Kings turn the tide during their 4-game homestand? – Press Enterprise

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Ahead of Thursday’s bout with the Nashville Predators, the Kings scheduled an address from general manager Rob Blake amid a stretch of nine losses in 10 outings.

The team did not respond to an inquiry regarding the general nature of Blake’s news conference, which was slated for after Thursday’s morning skate. Regardless of its purpose, the Kings’ play of late has already left him with plenty of searing inquiries that require a response from the architect of this roster.

After dropping eight consecutive games, the Kings responded fabulously Monday in Carolina, where they stared down a 1-1 score at the second intermission and blew the doors off a 4-1 third period. That sent the Hurricanes home disappointed and moved the Kings to 6-0-1 in the first game of back-to-back sets.

But they’d only won once in the second half of such scheduling, and, predictably, fate swung the other way the following evening. The Kings saw a one-goal game turn into a four-goal loss in less than four minutes of third-period action against the Dallas Stars. That left them to sport yet another lump from their season-long road trip and the nosedive that began four games before it.

The Kings have been largely uninspired at home this season, flirting with a .500 points percentage at Arena, where they’ll play their next four games. Suddenly, they find themselves receding from the conversation about the Pacific Division title and dangling dangerously close to a wild-card spot or fading from the playoff picture altogether.

Entering Wednesday’s action, Thursday’s opponent, Nashville, was one of several slow-starting clubs to now be nipping at the Kings’ heels. The Kings will enter the contest with 50 points. Nashville has 49. The Predators started to pick up steam sooner than several other teams currently gathering jump force in the hopes of leapfrogging the Kings.

The Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Seattle Kraken each faced double-digit deficits in the divisional standings behind the Kings as recently as Dec. 11, an edge they had built since October’s season opener. In the noticeably shorter period of time since, just over a month, all three clubs have out-accumulated the Kings by eight points or more to each close to within three points or fewer.

The Kings made sweeping offseason changes to hurdle the Oilers and other Western Conference contenders. They included the heaven-and-earth series of moves it took to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois and a change in net, where their previous tandem found new homes and they turned to a tripartite reclamation project in net, headed by Cam Talbot.

Talbot, who will represent the Kings at All-Star weekend, has exceeded expectations, despite the fact that he doesn’t have a victory to show for his past eight appearances. His own numbers have varied, his offensive support has sputtered consistently, scoring just 15 goals in those eight losses.

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