Defensive Problems Abound in LA
It’s really early, but it looks really bad in LA.
In six games the Kings have had 21 power play opportunities (not far from the league average) and zero power play goals. An area that I thought, given the firepower of this team up front, would be a strength for them, has so far been an absolute bust. To be fair there are eight other teams that have had two PP goals or less, but five of those teams have had 18 or less PP opportunities.
LA is currently the only team in the league without a powerplay goal.
To add insult to injury, the Kings’ penalty kill is at 70.6 percent. They’re dead last in the league on both sides of special teams.
What I think is even more concerning is what I’m seeing out of the Kings defense.
Maj D Probs
Jonathan Quick still isn’t playing, but these are really bad signs on the LA blue line that can't be corrected by a better goaltender.
To preface, Drew Doughty is exempt from all this criticism. He has looked fine.
The rest of LA’s blueline has looked slow, unmotivated and extremely sloppy.
In the loss to the Ottawa Senators, Colin White blew past Alec Martinez, without so much as a faining poke check attempt. On that play, Martinez didn’t skate. He looked tired - and maybe he was - but to say the play he made on White’s stick was “half-hearted” would be putting it mildly. He looked really bad.
On multiple occasions, Dion Phaneuf - against his former team, no less - looked similarly slow and unwilling to play the body. Again, I saw a lot of weak-willed poke checks and "shoves" while Senator wingers blew by him like he was skating the other way.
Against the Toronto Maple Leafs Patrick Marleau had a ton of time in front of Jack Campbell, and I mean right in front - to pick his shot without any kind of contact or pressure, with plenty of white sweaters nearby. Later in the same game, Derek Forbort’s drop pass to Kopitar was little more than a careless gift to one of the league’s most dangerous offensive players.
LA’s non-Doughty defensive gameplan looks to be showing significant signs of wear.
What’s even more discouraging is that the deep numbers for LA in both these games have been good.
Corsi For percentage, scoring chances for and high danger chances have all heavily favored LA in both these games. But their lack of defensive effort, careless passes, and clean giveaways are gifting offense to their opponents. I think that’s part of the reason you saw a similar result from both Ottawa and Toronto, two teams that couldn’t be more disparate in terms of offensive skill.
The Kings are - or at least have been - a defensive team and they can do better.
It's going to be a long season otherwise.