The Los Angeles Kings have fallen into quite a groove to end the month of October. The Kings’ last six games have all ended with Los Angeles on the winning side of the scoreboard. With the Montreal Canadiens falling off of their own impressive streak, that saw them win their first nine games of the season, it’s safe to say the Kings are the hottest team in the NHL.
During the Kings’ impressive 6-0-0 stretch, they have pulled themselves out of the Pacific Division’s cellar and now sit at second place in the division with 12 points and have played two fewer games than the division leading Vancouver Canucks.
Aiding the Kings during this impressive run through late October has been their new-found offense production. Over the course of Los Angeles’ six game win streak, they have outscored their opponents 18-6 and only needed extra time to decide a winner in one game.
This offensive production has come thanks to Darryl Sutter tossing the Kings’ lines into a blender after the team opened the season with three consecutive loses.
The biggest shake up would have to be the separation of the ever famous ‘That 70s Line’. Good bye Tanner Pearson and hello Milan Lucic. This proved to spark Lucic’s game and has created a new offensive juggernaut with Jeff Carter centering Lucic and Tyler Toffoli. The three have combined for 11 goals and 21 points during the Kings’ current winning streak. Five of those goals came off of the stick of Toffoli in the first four games of the streak.
That 70s Line wasn’t the only line to get a shake up either. A new line of Anze Kopitar between Dustin Brown and the aforementioned Pearson has been getting top six minutes and generating plenty of offensive zone time when on the ice together. While veteran, Marian Gaborik, has shifted down to the bottom six group along the wing with Nick Shore and Trevor Lewis centering the pair.
The new mix of offense has the Kings looking good and finding the back of the net. Comparing the Kings last six games, where they netted 18 goals, to their opening three games, where they were outscored 12-2, something has kicked the Kings’ offense into gear.
Along with the offensive about-face up front, the play on the back-end has also improved. The play on defense can also be attributed to shaking up the Kings’ defensive pairings. Drew Doughty is now paired up with Brayden McNabb and Doughty’s once partner, Jake Muzzin, is now paired up with Alec Martinez. The new pairing of Muzzin and Martinez has developed into a duo that can take a lot of pressure off of the shoulders of Doughty and his top pair partner.
But in the end, possibly the biggest turn around has come in net. Giving up five goals to open up the season and six over the next two is not Jonathan Quick hockey. Quick ultimately posted a .860 save percentage through the first three games of the season.
Luckily for Quick, a save percentage like that can only go up, and it has. In Quick’s five appearances since starting the season, he has gone 5-0-0, allowed only five goals and has put together a .964 save percentage.
Play in the crease was not only held down by Quick, but by back up goalie, Jhonas Enroth as well. Enroth backstopped the Kings to a pivotal 4-1 victory where he made 29 saves and grabbed the Kings their third win of this six game winning streak.
Today, the Kings have a chance to extend their league leading winning streak to seven games when they play host to the Nashville Predators. Los Angeles will need much of the same offensive and defensive production if they want to get past one of the Central Division’s top dogs.