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)


  • 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?

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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7 replies

  1. Hunger and consistency. The Kings are getting much better starts and are getting stronger in the third.

    The playoffs left a bad taste in their mouths. Now they know what it takes to win in this league.

    The offense is scoring less so far, but they have had a much better five man attack. This helps keep everyone involved and the team plays together in all zones. Their breakouts are better and they don’t get stuck in their zone as much as last year.

    Quick is seeing the puck more and doing a better job with rebound control. I think the weight loss is helping with this and having Bernier on the roster keeps Quick hungry.

    Bernier against SJ will be a huge test for the entire team. Bernier started slow against Chicago and he needs to be ready from first drop of the puck against SJ.

    No more easy games for the Kings. Well, maybe against the Oilers.

    • Good point at the end there. While the Kings have knocked off some hot teams (Dallas twice, Tampa, Vancouver), they have mostly been playing middle of the road teams. While we have had two longs breaks already, and one harsh road trip with home games bunched up right after, for the most part the schedule has been kind to us thus far. But the Sharks, Bruins, Canadiens and Ducks await us this month, and Columbus ain’t playing too shabby either. Nor are the Senators. Its not an awful schedule by any means, but it will be a bit tougher.

      No matter, the Kings are up to the challenge. You know I wrote that and then looked at it and thought ‘who is really better than us’? Sure, any given night you can lose to any other team, but while we have some tough opponents coming up, I look at nearly everyone and say to myself ‘yup, we can beat them, them to, definitely them, likely them” so on and so forth.

      To be quite honest, the Red Wings and Flyers are the only two teams in the league that I worry about playing. We play the Wings twice in December, but not again until February and we only play the Flyers once.

      79-3-0? Why the hell not (he said with tongue in cheek) :)

  2. I think a big issue at home last year was slow starts. Players often describe it as “we came out flat”. This year they come out fired up in the first period. The Kings lost a lot of one goal games last year as well.

    There is an interesting point above about Kopitar. When he scores, the Kings almost always win, I looked it up last season, when he scores the Kings have about a .750 winning percentage. Not sure I can explain that, but suffice to say, his scoring seems to be a bellwether for how the team is doing.

    Statistics aside, I am enjoying this ride…

  3. I think you missed a selection on the poll. I am thinking that it might be all of the above.

    Sure the offense isn’t producing on the pace we had last year, but when we get goals and get ahead, we hold it. So we really don’t need to say we have improved the offense when we get contributions from the entire team.

    The goaltending has improved but the defense has made it easier for Quick and Bernier to see the shots coming and cleaning up the trash that is left behind.

    The system only works because the team is believing in it and are implementing it every game which improves both the offense and defense.

    The team character and locker room atmosphere is a great treat to see. As long as the Kings don’t feel too down about a loss that they either deserved or just got out played, this team will continue to improve. The best way for that is to have an atmosphere that encourages improvement. Learning from mistakes of the past always brings new improvement and improves consistency. A consistent play and improvement from mistakes means that everything else improves as the season goes on.

    I can’t choose one above the other because each choice can fall back to another and each can compliment each other as a source of improvement.

  4. JDM, I have always enjoyed your assessment of players and games. In 2 years I can’t think of one instance of disagreement (total disagreement, I guess) with you.

    My view is simple, proper spacing and rotation has been the key. A few years ago we were pathetic in both areas. Now, it’s almost perfect. Our defensive spacing has been outstanding with proper body position, shot blocking and the ability to skate to the open areas for the quick outlet passes. Our aggressive D and PP are working because the rotation of players has improve 10 fold. When one player attacks, the next one takes his spot or covers the open passing lane and so on…. To me this has been huge as well as conditioning for most players

  5. Yeah, I don’t do fantasy leagues because I loathe statistical comparrisons . I’m glad you only went back the one year, which shows that we are definitely improved over last years incarnation of the team. The schedule may have been kind to us to this point, the two four day rests especially, but, like Surly, I think that this team matches up better with any team in the league than any other team does that I have seen to this point. They come out to play for each other, they find ways to win within the system, they don’t take nights off (hear that Mr. Kovalchuk, you never could have played here) and they defend each other as a band of brothers should. That’s why I think that they will come up with the ultimate statistic, and parade it down Chick Hearn drive! They are going to win the West, and wipe that gap toothed grin off that Russian goof playing in the Capital. This is our year.

    • It is our year!

      You know one thing I forget to point out was that This year the Kings played their 15th game on November 13th. Last year they played their 15th game on November 2nd. Not that it means much, just thought I’d point it out.


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