All the Kings' men

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

A long time ago, when the LA Kings eliminated a fragile Edmonton team from the playoffs, the Oilers earned the nickname "Weak-kneed Wimps."

Two decades later, it's L.A.'s turn.

The Kings will head into this off-season looking every bit the sorry chokers Edmonton did in the summer of 1982 after a winless, and gutless, Western Canadian road trip crushed their playoff chances.

"It's always disappointing when you lose, but especially the way we lost," said head coach John Torchetti, who isn't having any more luck at the helm than Andy Murray did. "We've got to come out and compete a whole lot better than that, especially after the second goal.

"We have to get some more leadership here. We had a three-game road trip and no points."

It's been four games since Sean Avery stood up and celebrated the firing of longtime head coach Andy Murray. The last three games, however, have been a stinging indictment on the character of their so-called leaders: they gave up seven goals to Vancouver, managed only one in Calgary, and were shut out 4-0 last night in a lifeless effort that had quit written all over it.

Apparently it wasn't the coach's fault.

"The bottom line is we have to come out and compete and work harder," said Torchetti.

"These are the playoffs. We have to work hard. We can't give up after two goals (against). You've got 41 minutes of hockey to go."

The Kings did play a night earlier in Calgary, but adrenalin should have trumped fatigue given the stakes and the opponent. But when Sergei Samsonov scored late in the first period to make it 2-0, it was over.

"When a team is struggling and having a hard time winning you can't go down early," said Craig Conroy. "But mentally we have to be stronger. We have to battle back, find a way to score one and get ourselves back in it."

Avery, who preached accountability in the wake of Murray's firing, turned hypocrite after the loss, refusing comment before hiding in the player's lounge. He was invisible in the three losses, but did find time for a TSN feature on what a bad boy he is.

"I've got nothing good to say," he sniffed. "You don't want to talk to me."

Mathematically the Kings are still alive, but if you watched the body language last night, they're done, and aren't playing like they care that much.

"This hurts," said Conroy. "It pretty much means that we have to run the table the rest of the season. We know where we stand. Any more losses could seal our fate.

"We have to build on something and that something has to be a win against Dallas. This is done. A terrible trip. Now we have to move forward."

On weak knees, no less.

"We have to find a way to fight our way through this mentally and physically as a team," said Torchetti. "Because we can't be giving away any more points the rest of the way through."


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