The Los Angeles Kings have found their groove. They sit a top the Pacific Division with 40 points and a nine-point cushion between them and the second place San Jose Sharks. Along with a number one spot in the Pacific Division, the Kings are tied for second place, behind only the Dallas Star, in the Western Conference with the St. Louis Blues and have two games in hand on the Blues.
It’s safe to say the Kings are in a good spot after 30 games played. Los Angeles has shaken off the rust and their dismal 0-3-0 start is a distant memory.
In the Kings’ last ten games they have gone 7-1-2, which has earned them points in nine of ten games and 16 of a possible 20 points over that stretch. A driving force for the Kings’ recent success has been the offensive contributions by the men manning the blue-line.
In the last ten games, Kings defenseman have lit the lamp 11 times. Looking back a little further at the Kings’ previous 20 games, where they grabbed a 12-6-2 record, Kings d-men found the back of the net 16 times. Two of the goals aforementioned, one by Drew Doughty and one by Brayden McNabb, proved to be game winning goals for the Kings.
Most Kings have been struggling to find the back of the net up to this point of the season, which makes this recent surge in offensive production a thing of beauty. In fact, it wasn’t until the Kings’ ninth game of the season until Jake Muzzin potted a goal and became the first King to do so during the 2015-16 season.
If Muzzin’s goal seemed to take a while, the rest of the Kings’ defensive core must have felt like a century. Alec Martinez took 11 games to score a goal, Jamie McBain recorded a goal during game number 12 for him, Doughty lit the lamp during his 14th game of the season, Christian Ehrhoff waited 21 games to break the drought and Brayden McNabb was the most recent to score his first after 25 games played this season.
In total, the Kings have scored 78 goals this season, 17 of those goals have come from defenseman. As mentioned above, Kings d-men have scored 11 goals in their past 10 games. That means 65 percent of the defense’s production all season has come over the last ten games.
A Dangerous Kings Team
Production from a team’s blue-line is just as important as production from a team’s third and fourth lines. Offensive production from your top six forwards and your defensive core can lead a team into Stanley Cup contention, which is happening for Los Angeles.
On top of the Kings newly found offensive workhorses on the blue-line, the Kings’ d-men are still taking care of things in front of their own net.
The Kings have given up only 65 goals in their 30 games played, only the Washington Capitals have a better total with 64 goals allowed in 30 games. Los Angeles gives up the third fewest average shots against per game at 27.7, is tied for the least goals against per game at 2.17 and Jonathan Quick currently sports a .915 save percentage. The d-men are getting their job end in the defensive zone and causing havoc for the defense at the end of the ice.
With the defense contributing and anchoring Los Angeles on the backend, Quick playing solid between the pipes and the Kings’ offensive weapons leading the way, the Kings are firing on all cylinders and look like a scary machine. It may be tough for a team in the Pacific Division to catch the Kings if they continue to play like they have of late.
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.