Here’s a statistic that should please Darryl Sutter: for the first time in his tenure, the Kings are now a “plus’’ team in terms of plus-minus, goals scored and goals against. They have scored 114 goals and allowed 113. (And actually, if you removed the team “goal’’ given for a shootout win, the Kings’ margin would be slightly better.) Since his arrival, Sutter has periodically talked about the plus-minus as the most relevant statistic in terms of evaluating where teams stand. The last time the Kings were “plus’’ was after the Dec. 6 loss to Anaheim.
Under Terry Murray, the Kings were minus-2. Under Sutter, they are plus-10. (In the four games under John Stevens, they were minus-7, mostly because of an 8-2 loss to Detroit.) A plus-1 puts the Kings in seventh place among Western Conference teams, which is exactly where they are in the standings. Conference leader Detroit is a conference-best plus-45. Division leader San Jose is plus-27. Chicago, the sixth-place team in the conference — five points ahead of the Kings — is plus-17.