The Los Angeles Kings already faced a difficult challenge in trying to end their four-game losing streak while opening their road trip against the Boston Bruins.
Now they'll try to do so with a new head coach.
A day after John Stevens was named their interim coach, the Kings open a four-game trip against the Bruins on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles (13-12-4) came into the season with high expectations after boosting the club's payroll to its highest level in several years with the signing of Simon Gagne and a trade for Mike Richards. But after opening with five wins in seven games, the Kings have struggled because of an offense that's consistently failed to score.
They've been outscored 11-6 during a four-game losing streak. Terry Murray's final game was a 2-1 loss to Dallas on Saturday as Los Angeles dropped its second straight to a goalie making his first NHL start.
The Western Conference's lowest-scoring team has 65 goals.
"When you have expectations, it's driven more towards results," general manager Dean Lombardi said. "It's harder at times to look for those victories within losses, and it's just the state of the franchise right now. ... It's a lot easier playing with the house's money. We're at the stage where you're going to be judged on wins and losses and playoff success."
Stevens, Murray's assistant coach, led the Flyers to the Eastern Conference finals in 2008, but Philadelphia fired him two seasons later. He joined the Kings' staff before last season and will be the 23rd head coach in Kings history.
Lombardi said he doesn't know how long Stevens will run the Kings, saying he's looking at several options for filling the job. He wouldn't comment on the possibility of a reunion with Darryl Sutter, his longtime coach when both were with San Jose.
Ultimately, Lombardi said the fault is with the underachieving players, who have failed to provide much help for goaltender Jonathan Quick. The team hasn't scored more than two goals in its last eight games and may have a difficult time getting immediate results with Boston (18-9-1) having allowed more than two just once in its last five.
That came Saturday in Columbus, but the Bruins bounced back from an early two-goal deficit for a 5-3 win.
"Credit the team for that effort," coach Claude Julien said. "We've had five games in eight nights. The group is a little tired. We just had to battle through it."
Fatigue may have been to blame for Tim Thomas' rare poor start. Thomas, who was 10-1-0 with a 1.63 goals-against average in his previous 11 starts, was pulled after giving up three goals on 25 shots in the first two periods.
The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner hasn't had much luck in his career against the Kings, going 0-1-4 with a 2.46 GAA in five starts in the series. Backup Tuukka Rask has never faced Los Angeles.
Whomever starts likely won't have defenseman Zdeno Chara in front of him. Chara left in the second period of Saturday's win with an undisclosed lower-body injury and is day to day.
"Most likely, I won't be playing (Tuesday)," Chara, who has helped the Bruins give up an average of 1.76 goals during a 14-2-1 stretch, said Monday. "That's as far as I can tell you right now. Honestly, it's a stage right now where we can't talk about it any further than 24 hours ahead."
Boston is 0-1-3 in four home games against the Kings since the end of the lockout and 0-1-4 in its last five in the series overall.