It is no secret that special teams can make or break a team. A timely power play goal or a huge penalty kill can both grab the momentum from one team and swing it in favor of the other. That is why year after year you see the teams that have the most successful special teams are usually those that sit atop the standings at the end of the regular season.
The series between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks has been no different. After falling into a 0-2 hole to the Kings, the Ducks have stormed back and pushed the Kings to the brink of elimination with three straight wins. A major factor in the Ducks’ new found success has been their special teams play.
In games one and two of the series the Ducks did very little on the power play and only scored on one of their eight man advantages. However, things have seemed to click since then. In games three, four and five the Ducks have had eight power play opportunities and have scored on four of them.
For the Los Angeles Kings it is much of the same, if they are not successful on special teams they will likely not be successful on the scoreboard. In the six games the Kings have won this post season they have gone 6-for-18 (33 percent) on the power play and have been successful on 93 percent of their penalty kills. On the other hand, in their six loses the Kings went 4-for-16 (25 percent) on the man advantages, and killed off a measly 66 percent of the penalties against them.
This series has been no different. The Ducks currently have the upper hand when on both the penalty kill and power play, having scored on five of 16 (31 percent) of their man advantages and have killed off 80 percent of their penalties. While the Kings have scored on just three of their 15 (20 percent) power plays and have kept the Ducks scoreless on just 56 percent of their man advantages.
A good penalty kill starts with a great defense, obviously. This is something the Kings have showed and prided themselves on in recent memory, but during these playoffs there have been flashes of brilliance along with times where the Los Angeles Kings have been caught running around in their own end. They have left guys alone in front of the net, turned the puck over in their own end and have gotten beat in the corners.
If the Kings can get their special teams to click this series can easily swing in their favor. They have already done it once against the San Jose Sharks. After falling into a 0-3 hole, the Kings penalty kill was remarkable and killed off 18 of 19 penalties in the final four games of the series, including 15 in a row in the final three games.
The Los Angeles Kings need their special teams to step up in game six and game seven if the Kings can get there. If they don’t they will be hitting the driving range sooner than they had hoped.
Tags: Los Angeles Kings