February 18, 2012 3:30 pm

One-goal games increasingly important

One stat that probably hasn’t received as much attention as it deserves is the Kings’ record in one-goal games. This season, the Kings have a 14-10-11 record in one-goal games (39 out of a possible 70 points), compared to last season, when they were 23-9-6 (52 of 76 points). The Kings have played 35 one-goal games this season, most in the NHL — Colorado and Ottawa have each played 31 — and the Kings rank 25th in the NHL in winning percentage in one-goal games. That stat doesn’t mean everything, considering that Tampa Bay — 12th place in the Eastern Conference — has the second-best winning percentage in one-goal games, but given the number of tight, low-scoring games the Kings play, their ability to win those games seems increasingly important. It’s fair to note that while the Kings have been underachieving of late, they have rarely been thoroughly outplayed under Darryl Sutter. Thus, the importance of winning tight games.

SUTTER: “People connect effort with scoring. Well, that’s really unfair to these players, because they friggin’ lay it out there, and they will tonight. They’re like playoff games. For me, (these games are) a good measuring stick for a lot of guys who either haven’t been in that position or haven’t had success in that position. The biggest mistake that everybody made with this group was the expectations, because they lost in the first round last year. Well, you know what, that’s got nothing to do with anything.’’

In an unrelated discussion, about power-play personnel, Sutter also offered this, in a similar vein about young players and expectations…

SUTTER: “It’s not about this year, it’s about tonight. You’ve got three top skilled (forwards) and a guy like Drew and a guy like Johnson. If they’re on, they will present a lot of challenges to the other team. If they’re not, they present a lot of challenge to us. They’re young guys, other than Williams. They’ve got to stay in the moment. You can’t go anywhere other than that, and when they do that, they’re awesome. Kopi hasn’t been as sharp recently. He hasn’t quite been as involved as he’d like to be. So he just has to be sharper.’’

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