The Los Angeles Kings have been a dominant possession team since their return to the playoffs in 2010 and ranked second in the league in cumulative Corsi (the percentage of all shot attempts directed towards the attacking net) between 2009-10 and 2013-14.
Partly impacted by a pair of games in which they were out-shot heavily by quality opponents in the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild, the Kings’ shot totals are perplexing despite the small sample size provided by eight games.
The Kings rank 22nd in the league in Corsi-for (surprisingly, one spot ahead of traditionally possession-strong San Jose) at 48.3%. Their 35.0 shots against per game ranks 28th in the league, and their minus-7.9 shot on goal differential ranks 29th. Last year their 26.2 shots against per game ranked second in the league.
Again, this is a small sample size weighted heavily by a pair of games against St. Louis and Minnesota in which Los Angeles was out-shot by a combined 84-34, and it should also be noted that the Kings have been winning despite the anomalous discrepancy. They’ll vie to complete the first 6-0-0 home stand in club history when Columbus visits on Sunday afternoon.
But the run of play is certainly worth a discussion with the players and coaches, and on Sunday Drew Doughty and Darryl Sutter were consulted over the uncharacteristic shot totals.
Drew Doughty, on how to stem shots against:
Yeah, we have to take less penalties. That’s for sure. We’re on the penalty kill, I think, too much. Even though we’re doing a good job, but we’re giving up a lot of shots on those situations. Still, I think a few too many odd man rushes against. I think we have to do a better job of controlling their D, getting point shots on net. We’re not playing our best yet, but we’re still winning games and gradually each game we’re getting better. I think that’s the positive side of everything.
Doughty, on whether the Buffalo game was a step forward in the team’s run of play:
Yeah, I think so. We’re not playing as high a caliber team against Buffalo. Even though we had a better game against them, I think that we still weren’t the greatest. I think we’re still giving up too many shots against. Then again, we had a lot of penalty kills and they’re going to get shots on PK, that’s just the way it is. Yeah it’s a step in the right direction. But like I said, we still got better and we’re going to have some tougher challenges coming up. So we have to be ready for them.
Darryl Sutter, on whether he’s concerned with the early shot totals:
No, I think that there are two or three games there against Minnesota and St. Louis, who are great teams. They are teams that are trying to play like Chicago and they’re really close. We’ll take care of that as we move along. I’m not going to put a whole lot into it after seven games. More into quality chances against. There are teams that throw pucks a lot from the outside and get their shot totals up, so that doesn’t really concern me. Also, when you’re home for an extended period of time, our building has a problem with giving the home team shots and the other team more shots. It’s a fact. We had a game three or four games ago where Kopitar had two quality scoring chances on one shift but he didn’t have a shot on goal in the game. There are lots of people, quite honest, that sit in the press box that don’t have anything to do. Somebody should actually do that stat, because it’s amazing when you do it yourself what the discrepancy is. Everyone grabs that sheet at the end of the period and goes, ‘Oh, oh.’ [Reporter: Do you keep those numbers?] I can tell you how many scoring chances, how many shots almost right dead on when I walk off the ice, and all I have to do is confirm it when I watch it later. I don’t know much, but I can count. [Reporter: Are there certain buildings around the league that are notorious for maybe on one side, favoring one team?] Yeah, there’s one. One that I’m really familiar with.