Against Calgary on Monday, the Kings did a very good job of getting bodies and pucks to the front of the net, and very nearly cashed in multiple times on deflections and redirections that were either stopped by Joni Ortio or trickled narrowly wide.
“That’s been consistent for a long time now,” Darryl Sutter said of the team’s ability to generate screens and tips. “It’s not new to the last game or new to the game before.”
But when you start considering many of the goals scored against Los Angeles during its 1-2-4 homestand, the opposition was certainly capitalizing on deflections, often off the bodies, sticks and skates of Kings players. It led into a conversation with Darryl Sutter about analytics and the nature of luck, given that the team currently leads the league with a 54.7% Corsi-for rating in five-on-five play yet ranks 20th in the league with a 99.9 PDO. Since the Christmas break, the Kings’ PDO ranks 28th in the league at 95.9. (PDO = Sh% + Sv% at even strength)
Since December 1, the Kings’ five-on-five Corsi-for rating is an outstanding 58.4%. They’ve been outshot once since November 29.
As has been stated by Sutter in so many ways during the team’s slump, they’re simply not scoring the “big goal.”
“There hasn’t been talk about our team the last couple months about analytics,” Sutter said. “They talked about it early in the year when it was so negative and we were so bad, but all that stuff, we’ve been a dominant team [analytically] again. We’ve just got to find a way to get that other goal out if it. That’s what it is, when you look at it. Our season has been predicated on that, and when we get stuck in that, when we’re not scoring, then we’ve had some of our guys not want to stick with the 200-foot part of it, so you get scored on. It’s like you asking about the screens or the tips, well, that’s part of the game. Most goals are scored from the slot and in front of the net. If you’ve got guys who can’t score, then it doesn’t matter how much they do that, but if you’ve got guys who do, that they historically do, then they will. That’s how I look at it.”
San Jose, Los Angeles’ opponent tonight, is traditionally a strong possession team, though their rates have slipped somewhat this year. They’re still well in the black, though they too, like the Kings, have struggled with bouts of poor luck. The Sharks’ save percentage of .908 ranks a thousandth of a point behind the Kings’ .909, while Los Angeles and San Jose respectively rank 19th and 23rd in overall team shooting percentage.
“Well, you need a good save percentage and you need a good shooting percentage,” Sutter said. “There are two things to do with shooting percentage: some guys have a high shooting percentage because they don’t take enough shots. And there are guys who have a high shooting percentage because they’re good shooters. And save percentage does come and go, and we talked about that a month ago, and that’s a stat that’s a real stat. Whatever those two add up to be, I don’t know what that means.”
Whether the numbers at Sutter’s disposal indicate that the Kings have been “unlucky” isn’t vastly important, according to the Kings’ coach.
“I don’t really put a whole bunch on it,” he said. “I mean, I’m not going to go in and talk to the team about getting lucky.”