So far in these playoffs the Los Angeles Kings have exceed almost all expectations, even the most loyal of fans did not see this coming… or maybe they did? Nonetheless here we are up 3 games to zip against the Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks. It almost seems as though they can do nothing right and we can do nothing wrong. What those of us don’t realize is that the Kings defensive abilities are amongst the best in the league and they should not be taken lightly.
The Kings ended the 2011-2012 Regular Season ranked 13th in the NHL, and as you begin to dissect their team statistics quite a few stand out.
First they ranked 4th in the league in Penalty Kill % at 87.03%. Right now one of the main reasons they have the Canucks on the brink of elimination is because they have completely shut their Power Play down. They have successfully killed all 17 of the Canucks PP’s, this is just impressive! The reason is two-fold because the Kings have a clearly demonstrated a great kill all season, so that is the first thing. The second thing is the Canucks are without Daniel Sedin, which has put everything out of sync for them. If the Kings take care of business tomorrow night then we will not see D. Sedin in these playoffs. I would be 100% okay with that!
Second the obvious Jonathan Quick is playing at the top of his game. He is moving laterally, controlling rebounds, challenging shooters and taking away everything down low. What makes him and the rest of the Kings dangerous defensively is that they are used to playing very tight games. 41 games they played in this season were decided by 1 goal in either regulation, OT or a shootout. As we all know and have seen these playoff games are tight, and typically decided by 1 goal. Clearly the Kings have been well trained and are accustomed to the pressures of these situations.
The Kings defensively are the most dangerous team in the playoffs, plain and simple.
Lastly, the statistic they have seemed to turn around is their ability to put the puck in the net. They ranked 29th out of 30 teams in the NHL, the only team worse is none other than the Minnesota Wild, way to go State of Hockey. Thus far in the playoffs they rank 4th, this is a definite improvement. The reason for this boost in scoring is pretty basic actually, when they added forward Jeff Carter to the line-up they evened out their lines. Making their 1st and 2nd lines dangerous to opponents, while also taking the pressure off the first line. This allows for the scoring to become spread amongst the lines and also takes the pressure off your goaltender and defensemen!
What it really comes down to is the will to win and peaking at the right time, and the Kings are definitely doing exactly that! We will see what happens tomorrow at 9:00 pm central time!