EL SEGUNDO -- Here's one stat Kings forward Brad Richardson didn’t expect to be leading at the quarter point of the season: Of the 30 shots on goal that have left his stick, none have hit the net, the most shots by an NHL forward without scoring a goal.
At a time when the Kings are still in the bottom 20 percent of the league in scoring, his lack of scoring hasn’t gone unnoticed. He has been a healthy scratch in two of the last five games, and coach Terry Murray has cited his lack of production on the offensive end as the main factor in his benching.
“He has a resume of being able to score,” Murray said. “It’s not there right how. We’ve gone through 20 games and no goals.”
Richardson is trying to walk the delicate line of not thinking about his slump too much, while still trying to give himself opportunities to get on the score sheet.
“I’m trying to shoot the puck as much as possible,” he said. “I just can’t seem to get a bounce.”
Two weeks ago against Minnesota, Richardson hit the goal post from 41 feet out. Later in the game, he had a wide open net to shoot at when the goalie lost track of the puck, but instead shot it off the goalie’s elbow. Richardson doesn’t remember going through such a streak in his seven-year career.
“It’s just something you’ve got to stick with, believe in yourself and believe that you can still score,” said Richardson, who had 37 goals in 316 career games coming into the season. “It’s going to come, I’m not worried about that. You just want it to come every time you get out there.”
As Richardson noted, he’s not alone is his scoring drought.
Ethan Moreau hasn’t produced a goal in 20 games, Trevor Lewis in 19 and Dustin Penner in 14.
Penner will not play in road games Tuesday in St. Louis and Wednesday in Dallas because of a lingering hand injury, Murray said, but the former 30-goal scorer will likely be ready to come off injured reserve during a four-game home stand that begins Saturday against Chicago.
Andrei Loktionov, called up from the AHL to replace Penner on the 23-man roster, is making a strong case to stick around once Penner returns. In three games, he already has as many points (one assist) as Richardson and Lewis.
“We’re a quarter of the way done with the year,” Lewis said. “I’ve got to start to get it back up where I can be consistent and be at the top of my game for every game.”
Lewis said that includes not focusing on scoring but rather his roles as a fourth-line center.
“Just worry about getting off pucks and being harder on pucks,” he said. “Winning all my battles and the kind of the things that got me here.”
Richardson has shown an ability to break out of a slump in a big way. He went the final 12 games of the 2009-10 season without a goal and the first seven of last season before exploding for three against Colorado. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if another breakout performance was just around the corner.
“That would be nice, that’s what I’m hoping for,” he said. “I’m definitely due for something like that.”
It's just a matter of how long the Kings are willing to wait.