Over the past 3 years, the Los Angeles Kings have totalled an impressive record of 10-1 in playoff series, leading them to their first 2 Stanley Cup Championships. They return this year with the goal of being the first team to win back-to-back championships since Detroit (‘96-‘97/’97-‘98). Here are some interesting numbers from LA’s playoff run last spring:
26 – Playoff games played, a league record matched only by the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers and the 2004 Calgary Flames. The Kings played 7 games in each of the first 3 rounds and 5 against the Rangers in the finals.
20 – Powerplay goals scored, the most by any team, with Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik, and Jake Muzzin accounting for half of them. They also allowed the most powerplay goals against (17).
19 – Goals scored by defencemen, with Jake Muzzin (6), Drew Doughty (5), and Alec Martinez (5) leading the way.
14 – Goals scored by Marian Gaborik. LA acquired Gaborik from the Blue Jackets after he missed much of the season due to a knee sprain. After scoring just 11 goals in 41 regular season games between LA and Columbus, Gaborik exploded in the playoffs and needed just 19 games to match his regular season output.
8 – Wins in games they were previously trailing. Including their game 7 elimination game against the Sharks, they were also behind against the Ducks in game 1, games 2,3, and 7 against Chicago, and Rangers in games 1,2, and 5 before coming back and winning.*
6 – Wins when facing elimination. They fell behind 3-0 in their series with San Jose and 3-2 to Anaheim, only to come back and win each series in 7 games.**
4 – Players with more than 20 points. Anze Kopitar (5-21-26), Justin Williams (9-16-25), Jeff Carter (10-15-25), and Marian Gaborik (14-8-22) were the top 4 players in playoff scoring, with Patrick Kane (8-12-20) being the only non-King to break 20 points.
3 – Teams played that finished with more points (Ducks-Sharks-Blackhawks). Finishing sixth in the Western Conference meant LA would have some tough competition to go through without the added benefit of home-ice advantage. They managed to become the first team to win 3 road game 7s in one playoff with their victories in the first 3 rounds.
2 – Shutouts by Jonathan Quick (Sharks game 5, Rangers game 3). After allowing 16 goals in the first 3 games against the Sharks (5.33/game), Quick regained his normal form and allowed just 53 goals in the final 23 playoff games (2.30/game).
Beginning the playoffs extremely slowly against San Jose, Los Angeles managed to bounce back with 4 straight wins and were able to grind out 3 more series wins on their way to the Cup. Heading into this season, only minor roster changes are expected with most of the winning team back for another year, while other teams in the West are making improvements to their rosters to challenge the Kings. Some questions remain for the Kings – if a notoriously fragile Marian Gaborik can remain healthy, if Mike Richards can bring his game back to where it used to be, and if they can fix their penalty kill issues – they will definitely be competing for another Stanley Cup this Spring.
* Note: This originally said:
5 – Wins in games they were previously trailing. Including their game 7 elimination game against the Sharks, they were also behind against the Ducks in game 1 and the Rangers in games 1,2, and 5 before coming back and winning.
** Note: This originally said:
7 – Wins when facing elimination. They fell behind 3-0 in their series with San Jose and 3-2 to both Anaheim and Chicago, only to come back and win each series in 7 games.
but LA was actually leading the series against Chicago 3-2. Thanks to user evarga from Reddit for pointing this out.
Cover Photo Credit: Dave Sandford/Getty Images