Kings-Sharks: Possession, possession, possession - LA Kings Insider

The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks are two of the NHL’s top possession teams.

The Kings, led by Corsi dynamos in Jake Muzzin, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, are better in the NHL at possessing the puck than any other team in the league, according to the team’s Fenwick-for percentage. Fenwick differs from Corsi in that it does not take into account blocked shots, and is seen as a more accurate gauge of the percentage of scoring opportunities owned by a team over a longer period of time. Possession metrics are important, of course, because if you don’t have the puck on your stick, you are very unlikely to score. A primer on these topics can be found here and here.

The Kings lead the league with a 56.7% Fenwick-for percentage, while San Jose ranks third at 54.6%.

So what happens when two teams that thrive off of puck possession face off against each other? How will one team gain an advantage?

“We’re a good faceoff team, and so are they,” Jarret Stoll said. “I think we’re going to have a great battle in that aspect of the game. After that, it’s managing the puck. Not turning over the puck. Not playing the game in the neutral zone. We don’t want to be hacking the puck around in the neutral zone. We want to get through that and get in on the forecheck. Like I just said, spend time in the offensive zone. I’m sure that’s similar to what they’re saying. That’s what wins games. That’s what makes it hard on teams over a seven-game series, is making them play in the defensive zone and making them play heavy, hard minutes.”

Though the numbers indicate that both teams are comfortable with the puck on their sticks, they’re also dangerous without the puck. As Stoll indicated, the Kings will be looking to get in on the forecheck and create disruptions in the Sharks’ abilities to get out of their own zone. Likewise, San Jose’s forecheck is another staple of their own game and creates challenges for road teams at the SAP Center.

“It’s hard to really compare a team to team, but they obviously get in on the forecheck really well and create a lot of rush chances,” Dustin Brown said. “I think a lot of their opportunities come off of the forecheck – the bang-bang plays off of turnovers, that sort of thing. We have to be aware of that. Again, coming into our zone, it’s about getting back quickly and helping each other out.”

As for possessing the puck, the Kings attempted 54.3% of the 608 total attempts at net in the five-game season series between the two teams. In four of the five games this season – Los Angeles was 3-1-1 in the regular season series and outscored San Jose 12-8, shootout goals excluded – the Kings out-attempted the Sharks.

It’s through their puck recovery and ability to retain possession through pressure in the offensive zone that has allowed Los Angeles to find success against other teams that also benefit from a heavy possession game.

“I think that’s part of what makes our team successful over the last few years is our possession of the puck, protection of the puck,” Brown said. “A big part of that is…getting in on the forecheck. When we’re on our game, we can get the puck deep and get the puck back. That goes a long way when you talk about possession. If we’re quick in our zone getting out and quick in their zone getting in, that goes a long way and that’s when you can tell this team is playing well.”

Previously in the Kings-Sharks playoff preview series:
The home ice factor
The center battles
Individual postseason stats
Weathering the storm

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.