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Losing Leads and One-Goal Games

April 21, 2015, 12:48 PM ET [9 Comments]
Jason Lewis
Los Angeles Kings Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
After watching the Winnipeg Jets blow three third period leads, it seems only fitting to discuss the Kings perceived ineptitude at holding down leads this season. Also, as Anaheim has continued to do so all year, one-goal game wins come into play as well.

Win percentages in one goal games seem to be important and also seem to be pretty consistent with being a good team.

In fact, if you look at the top 15 teams this year in 1GG win percentages they are almost all playoff teams.

Take a look:

(Stats from NHL.com)

As you can see, only The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas Stars were non playoff contenders. Anaheim was absolutely ridiculous this year in one-goal games, and have continued that trend into the playoffs (Much to the dismay of my 'Winnipeg in 7' prediction).

The Kings finished a lowly 27th overall. Their winning percentage in one-goal games was a paltry .351. The Kings 13-9-15 record in those games is kind of different when compared to 2013-14's record of 21-14-8 (.488), but not so much from 2011-12's 17-14-15 record (.370).

The Kings have in no way shape or form been one-goal game monsters over the last few years by any stretch of the imagination. The idea that they are somehow a really good team in close games might not be as true. Most of the Kings wins have come in a comfortable fashion over the last several years, as they have been top 15 in one or both of two-goal game wins and three-goal game wins each season.

And it all is somewhat trend-ish also. The same group of teams seems to pop up in the one-goal game leaders over the past three or four seasons. St. Louis, Anaheim, Nashville, the New York Rangers, Colorado, Dallas, and Chicago more often than not have landed in the top 15.

However, overall the one-goal game numbers may not matter that much when you think about it. A loss is a loss, and a win is a win. While you might be able to apply cliche to a one-goal game loss, it does not seem to explain any source of frustration. It is simply that the Kings lost games. Looking back they have lost games in that fashion for several years as well.

What may be a more compelling stat to look at is the Kings performances in games in which they trailed or led. There was the idea this year that the Kings team was not capable of holding leads, and/or if they got into an early hole were unable to climb out of it.

Off the top of your head you can probably recall too many games this year that seemed to slip away from the Kings in the third period and/or were lost in the first period.

The Kings were 27-3-5 this year when leading after two period. While that may seem like a good record, when you put it into winning percentage it actually puts the Kings in 24th in the league with a .771 win percentage. Again, this is team a stat where MOST of your top 15 are playoff teams. For example, Chicago, Anaheim, Tampa Bay, and the New York Rangers DID NOT LOSE A SINGLE GAME IN REGULATION if they led after two. On the flip side, the bottom of the league is peppered with the likes of Edmonton, Buffalo, Carolina, and Florida, all of which dropped points in 7 or 8 games when leading after two.

(Stats from NHL.com)

Unlike one-goal games, this one is strange territory for the Kings.

In 2013-14, the Kings held a 27-3-0 record when leading after two periods (.900). In the lockout shortened 2012-13 season they 19-1-2, or an .864 percentage. And finally in 2011-12, a season very similar to this years, they were 28-0-6, good enough for 21st overall and an .824.

While they have had season's of varying success, this one did strike a new low for the team. Actually, the lowest they've hit since the hiring of Terry Murray.

When Terry Murray was brought on board, it was to shore up the Kings defensive responsibilities. "Home plate" became the mot du jour around the Kings organization. Considering the Kings made tremendous strides in competitiveness and results, it really took. With that style in mind, a complete lock down, defensive first mentality, you can see how it would be only fitting that the Kings were good in holding down leads.

However, this year was a problem. With a sort of rag-tag throw together defensive corps, coupled with some of their more shut down oriented players going AWOL, the numbers slipped. Without good seasons from Matt Greene, Robyn Regehr, Alec Martinez, Jarret Stoll, or Mike Richards, the Kings saw a lot of games slip in third periods. More than usual. Actually, the most we have seen them lose in almost eight years. Some of this can be attributed to luck, some of it on-ice product and personnel.

As far as getting behind goes, the Kings are a stone's throw away from league average in winning when trailing after one and two periods. Both percentages are really low, but that is just how it is in the NHL. If you get behind in this league it can be difficult to get win games.

While the one-goal games seems about standard for the LA Kings, the idea that they could not hold on to late leads seems at least somewhat true. The Kings lost eight games this year when leading after two periods, that is also not counting how many games they let get to overtime when leading but eventually won.

They missed by a fine margin this year, and a few more third period holds would have almost certainly squeaked them in.

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