Over the past two seasons the Kings have found themselves on the losing end of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, being eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks two seasons ago, and the San Jose Sharks just a few months ago. Most may say the aspect of the game that got the Kings into the playoffs was their defensive capabilities, and the reason they did not succeed in the playoffs was their lack of offensive pressence.
Over the course of the 2010-2011 season the Kings continued their defensive excellence, having the sixth best goals against per game average with just 2.39. A major contributing factor to that low number was the team’s success on the penalty kill, killing off %85.5 of their penalties, only Vancouver, Washington, and Pittsburgh had a higher percentage. Along with the Kings’ excellence on the kill came their ability to block shots, blocking 1,032 shots last season as a team, with Jack Johnson’s 133 leading the team.
While last year’s defensive stats are what most teams strive to achieve, the Kings may want to forget some of their offensive rankings. At the conclusion of the season only five teams had a fewer goals scored total than the Kings’ 209 , which ranked the Kings 25th in the league with a 2.55 goals per game average. The power-play was successful on a dismal %16.1, scoring 47 times on 292 power-play opportunities contributing to their low offensive statistics.
So what do the Kings need in order to be successful?
The Kings need more scoring, primarily secondary scoring. Of the 209 goals scored by the Kings last season, 118 were scored by the top five goal scorers of Brown, Kopitar, Smyth, Williams and Stoll respectively. This has left some wondering where is the rest of the scoring? Outside of the top five, 11 forwards accounted for a combined 60 goals, leaving 31 goals to be scored by seven defenseman, with Doughty leading the group after finding the back of the net 11 times last season.
With the addition of Richards and Gagne during the offseason, the Kings now have six players who have had at least one 30+ goal season in their career. The other four players on that list being, Brown, Kopitar, Penner, and Williams. It seemed as if Kopitar was on pace to break the 30 goal mark last season, but a late season ankle injury cut that endevour short. With the recent addition of Richards and Gagne, and adding Penner late last season the Kings may have found that second wave of scoring that has been so desperately needed.
The addition of Richards could prove as a spark for the Kings’ power play, Richards grabbed 21 points on the power play last season with 5 goals and 16 assists. Supposing Gagne who has had a bit of a history with injuries stays healthy, and Penner breaks out of his late seaon funk that saw him only score two goals in 19 game played with Kings. The Kings will have two very talented lines of forwards to compliment their powerful defensive attack.
If the offensive weapons that the Kings now have click, the Kings will be one of the biggest offensive threats in the Western Conference something the Kings haven’t been able to say they are in quite some time. Perhaps giving the Kings what they need to make it out of the first round of the playoffs and make a deep run at the Stanley Cup.