LA Kings: Three reasons why the powerplay has worked so well this year

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) /

Taking a look at the numbers, the LA Kings power play could be the best power play of their franchise history. Here are three supporting reasons.

It’s weird, but it has got to the point where I find myself expecting the LA Kings to score on the power play every time they are given an opportunity, and the percentages would somewhat agree.

The Kings are currently running a power-play percentage of 25.3 percent…25.3 percent!

The last time the Kings had a power play that successful was during the 1979-80 season when they posted the second-best PP in the NHL of that year at 26.8 percent.

Surprisingly enough, the high power-play percentage the LA Kings are currently running doesn’t even put them in the top five as the Kings are ranked eighth in the NHL. So it’s not just the Kings that have found a newfound love for the man advantage. All around the NHL, teams are enjoying unique success on the power play, with the league average sitting at 21.26 percent. That would make it the highest league average since the 1985-86 season.

So what’s helping?

Well, there are three reasons.

1. A “Juiced” up zone entry

It seems all around the NHL, teams have adopted that neutral zone drop pass. It’s a simple concept, really.

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Anze Kopitar skates the puck up toward the neutral zone. He then drops it back to Adrian Kempe, who has built up some speed from behind the play. The increased acceleration, compared to the other players on the ice, forces the defense to back off, and Adrian is given the opportunity to pass it off to either Alex Iafallo or Dustin Brown, who are waiting by the blue line along the boards or skate it in himself.

For some reason, it looks like it shouldn’t work, but it’s paid off, and it could be the basis behind the league’s rise in power-play success, as most teams appear to have adopted this play as well.

It’s definitely helped Kempe this year. According to Evolving Hockey, his xGF% on the PP is the highest of his career at 94.0 percent, and nine of his 14 points so far have come with the extra man.

2. Lack of giveaways

The Kings are making much better decisions with the puck while on the man advantage. They’ve simplified their approach. The lack of cross-ice passes through defenders and setting up with the puck closer to the net has attributed to better success with the extra man.

The straightforward strategy has limited giveaways dramatically. The Kings have their lowest amount of GIVE/60 (giveaways per 60 minutes) with 5.64 since Evolving Hockey started recording that figure in 2007, and much better than their average of 11.19 GIVE/60 since that time.

3. The ‘Vets’ are back

We all knew any hope the Los Angeles Kings had in making the playoffs this year was dependent upon a rejuvenation from the veteran core of Kopitar, Brown, Drew Doughty, and Jeff Carter, and they seem to have regained their form from the cup years.

Dustin Brown is tied for 5th in the NHL for power-play goals with six, even though most have seemed to have come from like five feet from the net.

Jeff Carter, while not scoring as much as Brown, has a team-high xGF% of 97.9 percent while on the power play, according to Evolving Hockey.

But it truly is Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar that have become the two main reasons behind Los Angeles’ vaunted power play.

The Drew Doughty “spite” season is in full effect. Though his even-strength play is still improving, his power-play impact rivals those of the best in the league. Take Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly for example. The Maple Leafs currently have the best power play in the NHL at 31.3 percent(!), and Rielly is the point man on their top unit. Looking at the numbers, however, Doughty is besting his fellow countryman in all aspects.

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These are the type of numbers you expect from your 11 million dollars a year star defenseman.

If Anze Kopitar isn’t in the discussion for the Hart Trophy right now, something is wrong. His individual contribution to the power play, I would argue, is the best in the NHL. According to, Anze sits second in the NHL in PPP/60 (power-play points per sixty minutes) with 11.65, behind Dominik Kubalik of the Chicago Blackhawks, who has a PPP/60 of 14.84.  Those are MVP numbers for the current LA Kings captain.