The Los Angeles Kings are currently 2nd place in the Western Conference (to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks) and tied for third in the NHL. Their number one goalie (Jonathan Quick) has been looking like one and is ranked 4th in save percentage and 3rd in goals against average in the league. Their 4-1-0 start matches their best 5-game start in team history.
Somehow, The Kings’ power play is closer to the bottom than the top of the NHL, though. Their power play is just barely above the Montreal Canadiens for next to last in the NHL. Team scoring is only 19th place out of the 30 NHL teams, so the overall scoring could use a bit of improvement.
Why are the Kings at the bottom of the league in the power play and in the bottom half of the league for goals per game? Last year, the Kings’ power play was 7th in the league. This year they’re clinging to 29th out of 30 teams.
The Kings’ second line has been doing most of their scoring (and Terry Murray has even said at times that the second line has looked like his top line), though perhaps Anze Kopitar’s first goal of the season last night against the Carolina Hurricanes will help his line turn around their low scoring start of the season. Imagine how good this LA team will be if they can get their power play and top line scoring in gear.
I’ve heard a few theories on what’s wrong with the Kings’ power play, but the main theory concentrates on one player and I think pinpointing one player when there are two power play units and both of those power play units are performing horribly doesn’t cover the problem with the power play performance. I’d say it has more to do with a coaching issue, since a single player could only affect their own power play unit. I’m not saying that the Kings’ power play units have the players I’d select if I were creating power play units from the Kings’ roster, but the Kings have been working on their power play a lot in practice and it doesn’t seem to be helping. The Hurricanes have a pretty bad penalty kill, but even that (and their backup goalie in net) wasn’t enough to help the Kings score on the power play. As long as the Kings keep winning, it’s hard to be concerned about the power play, but if they could fix their power play problem winning games should become easier for the Kings and take some of the pressure off of their defense and goalies.
The Kings play so well together without the power play that it’s odd to see how much they struggle as soon as you give them the man advantage. It’s almost like it would be better if the team could decline the penalty like you can in football. If the Kings start scoring on the power play, they’ll be an even more formidable team. Look out western conference teams…