Kings pre, post-Olympic trends, 1998-2010 - LA Kings Insider

Darryl Sutter has indicated at times that there’s no real precedence on how players will respond after returning from the Sochi Games, which, according to the time zones, is exactly half a world away.

The performances of previous Kings teams do not have any impact on the current Kings team, though it’s still interesting to look at the performances by Kings players before and after their Olympic appearances, dating back to 1998. And, as it turns out, there have been several [perhaps flimsy] trends.

1998 Olympics, Nagano, Japan (17 hours ahead of Los Angeles)
Before Break: 8-1-1 (36 GF, 19 GA) // After Break: 5-3-2 (29 GF, 25 GA)
10 Games Before Break – PLAYER – 10 Games After Break
5-6=11, +11 – ROB BLAKE – 5-4=9, -4
3-5=8, +6 – VLADIMIR TSYPLAKOV – 2-6=8, +3
5-9=14, +9* – JOZEF STUMPEL – 2-5=7, +2**
0-0=0, 0 – AKI BERG – 0-0=0, +2***
0-0=0, +10 – MATTIAS NORSTROM – 0-3=3, -2
13-20=33, +36 in 49 GP – TOTALS – 9-18=27, +1 in 44 GP

*Stumpel missed one of the team’s 10 games before the Olympic break.
**Stumpel missed four of the team’s 10 games after the Olympic break.
***Berg missed two of the team’s 10 games after the Olympic break.

-The 1998 Olympic Break did nothing to help the Los Angeles Kings, who were 14-6-3 in the 23 games prior to the break and 12-13-2 in the 27 games after. Rob Blake and Jozef Stumpel were extraordinarily hot heading into the break, producing some of their best numbers of the season; Stumpel had an eight-game point streak in the lead-up to the team’s shut down. The 1997-98 Kings were swept in the first round of the Western Conference Quarterfinals by the St. Louis Blues.

2002 Olympics, Salt Lake City, United States (1 hour ahead of Los Angeles)
Before Break: 6-2-1-1 (30 GF, 24 GA) // After Break: 6-2-1-1 (27 GF, 22 GA)
10 Games Before Break – PLAYER – 10 Games After Break
1-1=2, -1 – MATTIAS NORSTROM – 0-2=2, 0
2-7=9, +2 – ADAM DEADMARSH – 7-6=13, 0
0-2=2, +3 – MIKKO ELORANTA – 2-1=3, +5
1-7=8, +12 – AARON MILLER – 0-0=0, -1
8-2=10, +2 – ZIGGY PALFFY – 5-7=12, 0
0-0=0, +4* – LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY – 1-1=2, 0**
12-19=31, +22 in 56 GP – TOTALS – 15-17=32, +4 in 58 GP

*Visnovsky missed four of the team’s 10 games before the Olympic break.
**Visnovsky missed two of the team’s 10 games after the Olympic break.

-The Salt Lake Games did little to impact the 2001-02 Los Angeles Kings, other than to halt the surge by Unrelenting Production Deity, Aaron Miller. The Kings were defeated by the Colorado Avalanche in a seven-game series in the first round of the playoffs.

2006 Olympics, Turin, Italy (9 hours ahead of Los Angeles)
Before Break: 3-5-2 (28 GF, 43 GA) // After Break: 5-5-0 (22 GF, 34 GA)
10 Games Before Break – PLAYER – 10 Games After Break
2-4=6, -5 – CRAIG CONROY – 0-2=2, -4*
2-5=7, 0** – PAVOL DEMITRA – 0-0=0, 0***
1-9=10, -5 – LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY – 2-2=4, 0
7-22=29, -10 in 37 GP – TOTALS – 2-4=6, -4 in 19 GP

*Conroy missed two of the team’s 10 games after the Olympic break.
**Demitra missed three of the team’s 10 games before the Olympic break.
***Demitra missed nine of the team’s 10 games after the Olympic break.
^Frolov missed all 10 of the team’s games after the Olympic break.

-Returning injured from the Turin Games were Pavol Demitra, who took a puck to the face, and Alex Frolov, who suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss a month and a half. 47 players suffered injuries at the 2006 Winter Olympics, among them Dominik Hasek, Simon Gagne and Jaromir Jagr. The tournament took part during the downward spiral otherwise known as the second half of the Kings’ 2005-06 season. Los Angeles opened the year 27-14-2 before finishing 15-21-3 over the final 39 games, missing the playoffs by six points.

2010 Olympics, Vancouver, Canada (0 hours ahead of Los Angeles)
Before Break: 8-1-1 (33 GF, 22 GA) // After Break: 5-4-1 (25 GF, 22 GA)
10 Games Before Break – PLAYER – 10 Games After Break
4-4=8, +4 – MICHAL HANDZUS – 1-4=5, 0
2-5=7, +2 – DREW DOUGHTY – 3-5=8, +1
3-6=9, +2 – DUSTIN BROWN – 2-1=3, -7
2-6=8, +6* – JACK JOHNSON – 0-2=2, -7
8-1-0 / 2.21 / .917 / 1 – JONATHAN QUICK – 4-4-1 / 2.10 / .926 / 2**
11-21=32, +14 in 39 GP – TOTALS (SKATERS) – 6-12=18, -13 in 40 GP

*Johnson missed one of the team’s 10 games before the Olympic break.
**Quick started nine of the team’s 10 games before and after the Olympic break.

-The 2010 Olympics interrupted one of the best regular season runs in franchise history and came shortly after a franchise record nine-game winning streak. Though the Kings entered the Olympic break in fourth place in the Western Conference, they finished the season with nine wins over their 21 post-Olympic games and dropped to the sixth seed, drawing the Vancouver Canucks in the first round and losing a tense, six-game playoff series.

What has past precedent told us? The Winter Olympics have not been particularly kind to the Kings. In 1998 and 2010 the Kings were enjoying surges in the standings that were derailed by an extended break. In 2006 key players in Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov returned injured. Only once, in 2002, was there no negligible effect in the statistics of the participating players and in the trajectory of the team.

This obviously means little with the current group of players, who have won a Stanley Cup and have achieved significant success over the last two seasons. How this year’s team will fare post-Olympics is also tough to gauge, as several of the players who will not be participating are looking for better consistency in their own games. But for those who will be returning from Sochi, 12 hours ahead of Los Angeles, past numbers indicate that returning players have not consistently produced any type of uptick when compared to their pre-Olympic statistics.

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