I have always hated statistics.  I was a very good math student, but as soon as I didn’t have to pay attention to numbers, I didn’t.  I like to read into things and evaluate through empiricism.

I concede that stats can be useful and I know many of you love perusing numbers and looking for answers between the percentages.  This post is as close as I will get to placating things which don’t amuse me.

At the moment, Kings’ statistics are all the rage.  The talk is about the Kings’ best start in franchise history.  Winning 8 consecutive home games.  Quick reaching 10 wins faster than any goalie in Kings’ history.  Best 15 game start (12-3-0) in Kings’ history.  These are amazing achievements and awesome records to set, but most of these were set over two decades ago.  The Kings may have the best start since ’80-’81, but we know that we’ve had better teams by playoffs’ end since that year.  Stats are fun, but the context is always shifting as the NHL game seems to change about 5-8 years.

So, let’s compare where the Kings are now to last year after 15 games.  This should give us a very direct comparison illustrating how the team has improved.

The record

  • This year: 12-3-0
  • Last year: 9-4-2

At home (after 8 games)

  • Now: 8-0-0
  • Last: 5-2-1

On the road (7 games)

  • Now: 4-3
  • Last: 4-3

5 on 5 scoring (through 15 games)

  • Now: 30 goals for (2.0 GF/G)
  • Last: 36 goals for (2.4 GF/G)

5 on 5 defense (through 15 games)

  • Now: 20 goals against (1.33 GA/G)
  • Last: 32 goals against (2.13 GA/G)

Powerplay

  • Now:  16.4%
  • Last: 23.4%

Penalty Kill

  • Now: 92.2%
  • Last: 75.4%

Overall Offense

  • Now: 45 goals (3.00 GF/G)
  • Last: 51 goals (3.40 GF/G)

Overall Defense

  • Now: 28 goals against (1.87 GA/G)
  • Last: 43 goals against (2.87 GA/G)

Jonathan Quick (through 11 games)

  • Now: 10-1-0 / .944 SV% / 1.52 GAA (17 GA)
  • Last: 8-3-0 / .894 SV% / 2.91 GAA (32 GA)

I find it interesting that the Kings’ offense was better at this point in the season last year.  The Smyth-Stoll-Williams line may be on fire, but you can see here just what a difference to team scoring Kopitar makes when he is hot.  The difference in team defense, as well as Jonathan Quick, is just phenomenal.  However, I almost smashed my monitor and mutilated the keyboard 10 minutes ago while compiling these stats… some of which I had to go through game logs to find and then tally myself since I don’t know where to find “through X number of games” statistics.

Stats won’t tell you that this team is fighting harder for each other.  They won’t tell you that they don’t take crap the way they did last year.  They won’t tell you that the size of our collective team heart has more blood pumping through it than ever before.

Some things you can only see with your own eyes.

Statistically speaking, the Kings’ biggest improvement over last season is the penalty kill through 15 games.  Is it team defense that is getting the job done?  Jonathan Quick?  Is it the system and, if so, is that the players’ willingness to stick to the system or are the coaches implementing the system in a better way?  Or does the larger character presence make for guys more willing to block shots?  It’s not as easy as pure statistics when evaluating a fluid animal like a hockey team.

Stats are for baseball.  But let’s be fair and take them into consideration for the following poll.

My question to you is, in what area are the Kings most improved this season as compared to last?