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Balanced and Consistent Scoring: The Key for the Kings

February 17, 2015, 1:35 PM ET [16 Comments]
Jason Lewis
Los Angeles Kings Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Kings are hot right now.

They are tied with Nashville for the best active win streak in the NHL at five after knocking off the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night at Staples 3-2.

And the absolute best thing about it, aside from crawling closer and closer to a playoff spot, is that the Kings are getting offensive contributions from all lines.

With an array of scorers scattered throughout the lineup, you would like to say that has been a common occurrence this season. And actually, it hasn't been too bad in the season scope. However, there are other elements at work.

Scoring by committee is a phrase that many teams like to use when describing their offense, and the Kings have been a team that has bought in to that for the past several years. It is a successful formula when everyone is pulling on the rope. If you recall the days prior to the arrival of Richards and Carter or even Justin Williams, the Kings relied heavily on one line. It is, in most cases, a frustrating and overall unsuccessful endeavour to have a front-loaded offense.

When you look at the numbers, it is hard to argue that the Kings have been too top-heavy a team this year at even strength.

Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, and whatever linemate you want to put on the other wing have obviously been a huge part this season, but they aren't single handedly carrying the load.

From the start of the season to now, the LA Kings had scored a total of 107 even strength goals in 56 contests.

Jeff Carter has personally scored eight, Tyler Toffoli 12, Pearson 10, and Dwight King nine.

That's 39 goals total. That's a little over 35% of the team's goal totals at evens. Now add Justin Williams, who is tied for the team lead at even strength goals with 12, and let's throw in Dustin Brown and his eight for good measure.

You are now looking at 59 goals from six of your 12-13 forwards. Just over half your offense from half your forwards.

If you want to score by committee that seems about right, even though the Kings defense has provided little in the way of goals this year. Add in the rest of the guys like Kopitar, Gaborik, Stoll, Doughty, and the red hot Jordan Nolan, and you're looking at about 75% of your offense coming from....75% of your roster! Look at that. Success! Right? Offense from everywhere!

Maybe not.

The problem the Kings have run into is that it has never seemed to synch up. We are starting to get a glimpse of it on this run. By in large the Kings have been a one line team for different stretches of the season. It has hardly ever been two or three lines at the same time.

The rolling 15-game goals for per/60 chart of the Kings top offensive contributors is pretty funny when you look at it.


Almost every upswing of a certain set of players is accompanied by an extreme low point by two or even three other players. This wouldn't be so bad if the lows weren't so low, and there was some semblance of meat in the sandwich. The highs haven't been high enough to offset the lows and the lack of mid-level scoring.

On the chart look at what would be about December. Carter, Toffoli, and Kopitar had all pretty much bottomed out, while Gaborik and Williams experienced their best even strength run of the season. Meanwhile, Brown was the lone middle man, the "consistent" man, scoring at under a goal per game.

When you look at the graph for last year's goals for per 60 at evens over roughly the same time period of 55-60 games, it is far less volatile when you compare it side by side to this season.


(Note: Gaborik was removed from the 2013-14 chart due to sample size and replaced with Dwight King)

The high and low points are obviously still there in both examples, however, the 2014-15 chart experiences a few things that 2013-14 chart doesn't. Players hardly ever completely bottomed out to a zero average for 15 games at a time. In fact, hardly any of the Kings players dropped below a .5 goals for average in 2013-14, which would probably explain why they didn't really hit too many skids during the season, outside of the annual January slump when the entire team went cold.

Also, most of the highs were not accompanied by extreme lows of other players. Things stayed relatively consistent. Even if players weren't scoring at as high of an average, they were still scoring enough to be a relative threat night in and night out. In 2013-14, when Carter and Toffoli were carrying significant weight offensively, Williams, Kopitar, and King were still scoring about a goal a game at evens.

in late December of 2014-15, when Gaborik and Williams were on fire, it was accompanied by a slump where Toffoli was scoring below .5 a game at evens, and Kopitar and Carter were at ZERO. Considering the Gaborik and Williams hot streaks weren't that high, they really couldn't offset the slumps of the other players and/or the lack of defensive scoring and bottom line production. Neither of the latter are something you should truly rely on to carry you though. Those elements can help, but they should be complementary at best. The loss of guys like Pearson and Voynov definitely has taken a toll on those areas for the Kings.

Along with possession, 5-on-5 scoring is a pretty telling sign of a good team. Strangely enough, the Kings are actually a better 5-on-5 for/against ratio team this year than last year. When you look at the top 10 in the league at 5-on-5 scoring for and against, here is how they rank this season.

1. Nashville
2. St. Louis
3. NYR
4. Tampa Bay
5. Chicago
6. Montreal
7. Pittsburgh
8. Los Angeles
9. NYI
10. Winnipeg

The only team amongst that group that is not currently in a playoff spot is bolded.

You can take this as a good sign. Combine these numbers with the fact that the Kings are still a top 3-5 possession team in the NHL and you can simply make the case that they haven't yet been in synch this season. Hard to imagine since it is February, but ultimately this is a case that would be convincing.

If you pull similar charts of each of those top 10 team's 5-on-5 scoring (and I did) you will see that few have had the up and down swings of their top players like the Kings have. The Islanders are a special case due to the amount of double digit scorers they have. Also, the Rangers are a bit different due to the unreal performance of Rick Nash this year. He is single handedly off-setting any type of slump that would befall any of his teammates.

A few examples,

St. Louis:


There is an element of consistency within the inconsistencies of each and every player on these teams. In the end, there is a middle ground within the scoring that can stave off any extreme cold or hot spells. The Kings have not had that luxury this year.

The Los Angeles Kings haven't really hit that stride of consistency and cohesion within the ranks. Yet. They are certainly waiting a while to do it also. That's why there is still this element of fear and mystique surrounding the Kings. Last year's post-season run was probably the best example of the kind of damage they can do when everyone is firing. Do they have that same type of potential this year? Well, that is a different argument for a different day.

The last few games have been a sliver of hope in a season that just hasn't quite felt right. There are 26 games left and the Kings are only a point back from the wild card spots in the West. That is enough time to get things clicking consistently once again and get all the top players on the same page. It would also help if they could get more consistent scoring from the likes of Jordan Nolan, Drew Doughty, or Jarret Stoll. Maybe the Kings need to pick up a little more scoring depth at the deadline. We shall see.

Still plenty of time left, and the Kings seem to be on the upswing.

(All charts used were courtesy of War-on-ice.com)

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