Category number two: defense
Current grade: C+
Previous grade: B-
The LA Kings defense is still a work in progress. Actually, make that a very young work in progress — as three defensemen on their current roster are under the age of 25. With that much youth in the lineup, there will be inconsistencies, as this month has shown.
In nine of their fourteen games played in March, the Kings allowed three goals or less. This should give the team a chance to win on those nights, but the Kings do suffer from offensive lapses and so, three goals are sometimes difficult to come by for them, let alone the games where they give up four or more goals. Overall, they gave up 40 goals in March, which breaks down to 2.9 goals per game. Surprisingly, they are thirteenth in the league in goals allowed.
Outside of Drew Doughty, the LA Kings need to get more offensive contributions from their defensive corps. On a bright note, Matt Roy had a decent month in that department. He celebrated his new three-year contract extension by scoring two goals to go along with four assists.
The goals allowed totals can be lived with as they are amplified when the team struggles offensively. The LA Kings’ biggest weakness on defense this season has been the number of shots on goal they allow, and it continued in March. They have allowed the ninth-most shots on goal in the NHL at 31.4 per game, including four games where they allowed 40 or more. Strangely, they won two of those games against the high-powered Vegas Golden Knights, although that had more to do with goaltender Cal Petersen than stellar defensive play.
On a side note, I don’t care what the analytics say. Drew Doughty deserves to be in the Norris Trophy conversation, period.