The Los Angeles Kings are six years removed from their last playoff appearance. Last season marked a new low, as they finished last in the Western Conference. In 08-09, there’s nowhere to go but up. How high will they climb in the standings this season?
In the last three seasons, the Kings have failed to qualify for postseason play, finishing an average of -9 below the Playoff Qualifying Curve, or PQC. That average is a bit misleading, however, as LA ended the 05-06 campaign at -2.5. The past two seasons have been brutal down on Figueroa.
Some statistics of note from last season:
- First, the good news: The Kings were quite good at holding onto a lead going into the 3rd period, winning 91.7% of those games (5th in the NHL)
- Now, the bad news: LA had the worst Penalty Kill in the NHL (78.0%)
- Their Goals/Game average was a middle-of-the-pack 2.76 – remarkable, given the fact that the Kings had just FIVE players score 10+ goals
The Kings’ first ten games of the season are played 11 OCTOBER – 1 NOVEMBER. Our exhaustive research indicates that in that timeframe, LA earns an average PQC rating of 5.0 and about ten points in the NHL standings. Last season, the Kings played below the PQC from Game 1, and were called OUT of the playoffs by OGA on 10 DECEMBER. In the 05-06 campaign, LA fell into OGA’s “13% Club” – OGA calls are made with just over 87% accuracy – by getting off to a strong start and prompting us to call them IN the playoffs on 25 OCTOBER. OGA did not anticipate the Kings’ nosedive in the second half of the 05-06 season, but we have learned from the experience.
Some statistics of note for OCTOBER:
- The Kings are a combined 14-14-2 through the first ten games since the Lockout
- In 07-08, LA began their campaign with two games in London, and jet lag was a problem: they lost four straight upon their return to North America
- Los Angeles won’t do much early-season traveling in 08-09: only 3 of their first 10 (and 9 of their first 31) games are on the road.
Realistically, the Los Angeles Kings are at least a season away from battling for a playoff spot. That does not mean, however, that they won’t be worth watching. If the Kings can find a goalie ready to claim the starting role, errors committed by their young D-men (D-boys?) won’t be so glaring, and the youngsters (or, in the cases of Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty, youngstars) will gain confidence. Blueliners who are willing and able to take calculated risks will provide Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown & co. with greater opportunities to showcase their All-Star talents. All in all, the Kings should be quite entertaining, but expectations must be tempered by the fact that they play in the toughest division in the NHL. Follow the Kings’ progress in The OGA Blogs, and don’t miss the comprehensive review of the first ten games in the Los Angeles G10R on 3 NOVEMBER.
Wednesday, we’re off to Music City for the Nashville Predators SPR. Until then, Big Tex says, “Try the funnel cake, because you can only eat so many corny dogs before you need a little something sweet.”
TAKE ME BACK TO www.ongoalanalysis.com