Despite the rough start to the season away from home, the Los Angeles Kings have built up a reputation for being a strong road team. They won their first 10 road playoff games en route to the 2012 Stanley Cup, and last season finished with identical 23-14-4 home and road records.
But it’s the club’s play at Staples Center his season that has the opportunity to place near the top of the list of the most successful seasons at home. No Kings team has equaled the 57 points compiled at home in 1990-91, and no team has surpassed the .813 points percentage established during the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13, when the club finished 19-4-1.
With a record of 23-9-7 at Staples Center (53 points / .680 points percentage) and home games remaining against Colorado and San Jose, the Kings have the opportunity to tie the 1990-91 club record for home points, though the 1990-91 team played a 40-game home schedule. In a more recent context, should Los Angeles claim at least one point over its two remaining home games, it will have surpassed the home point totals from all seasons since 1990-91 (though, again, the 2012-13 season set the points percentage high bar).
“You don’t get points easy in this league,” Darryl Sutter said. “If you can take it to the next step, and you can do the home-road differences in individuals, and then when you do it yourself, there’s no real answer for it other than we’ve been a consistently really good team. How do you win Stanley Cups? How do you go to conference championships? That’s how. And again, this year, it’s what’s allowed us still, with five games left, to still be in a playoff race.”
As Sutter noted, there are some wide home-road splits in individual players. The discrepancy also exists in special teams: the power play ranks fifth at home and 26th on the road, and the penalty killing ranks 13th at home and 27th on the road.
One record has already been established: counting playoff games, the Kings will play in front of their 160th consecutive sold out crowd tonight, far surpassing the previous club record of 75, set between December 8, 1990 and October 8, 1992.
Dustin Brown, on developing a home-ice advantage at Staples Center:
I think if you look at, it’s kind of grown over the last few years. We didn’t have it prior to 2012, even our 2012 home record I don’t think was very good. It’s more of a mindset. Obviously you feed off the crowd and everything. As you become a better home team, I think they get more excited because there are more wins. You see it in other teams, other buildings that are hard to play in, which is an attitude you have at home.
Brown, on whether some players play better at home and other better on the road:
I think it’s probably different year-to-year for power play, penalty kill, road and home. I think last year we were pretty consistent, our split was literally the same exact record home and away. We struggled a little bit early on the road.
Brown, on the line’s identity when skating with Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis:
I think we all know what kind of players we are. I think it’s finding that identity within the game itself. I think we’re all three pretty physical guys. It’s about being physical and hard to play against within our structure. I think when we do that we’re pretty effective. It’s when maybe chase the game a little bit to try to be physical or we’re not making the right plays with the puck where we chase the game, put ourselves out of position that we become a lot less effective. It’s kind of a little bit of a fine line of having that physical identity but also within the confines of what we want to do with the puck.
Top Five Scorers, Home
t-1) Jeff Carter 17-21=38; +14
t-1) Anze Kopitar 10-28=38; +7
3) Tyler Toffoli 12-15=27; +20
4) Marian Gaborik 15-11=26; +4
5) Drew Doughty 1-21=22; +7
Top Five Scorers, Away
1) Anze Kopitar 6-18=24; -8
2) Justin Williams 11-11=22; +6
3) Drew Doughty 5-16=21; -1
4) Jeff Carter 11-9=20; -9
5) Marian Gaborik 10-9=19; +3
Power Play, Home: 30-for-133: 22.6% (5th in NHL)
Power Play, Away: 15-for-107: 14.0% (26th in NHL)
Power Play, Total: 45-for-240: 18.8% (t-12th in NHL)
Penalty Kill, Home: 104-for-125: 83.2% (13th in NHL)
Penalty Kill, Away: 79-for-102: 77.5% (27th in NHL)
Penalty Kill, Total: 183-for-227: 80.6% (t-19th in NHL)