Los Angeles Kings, 2009-10
Goals For: 241 7th
Goals Against: 219 10th
GVT: 22 8th
Points: 101 8th
VUKOTA Projection for 2010-11
Goals For: 234 10th
Goals Against: 229 12th
GVT: 5 11th
Points: 93 11th
Los Angeles surprised many observers in 2009-10, jumping to 101 points after posting a Pacific Division worst 79 points in 2008-09. It was especially good news given that the Kings were one of the youngest teams in the NHL, meaning that they certainly had the potential to become one of the best teams in the league for the next several years.
There are a few things that Dustin Brown does very well, and that's hit and draw penaltiesthe King's captain is always among the league leaders in those categories. Otherwise though, you don't see the King's top stars standing out much in the secondary stats belowlook for instance at how few times names like Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson show up. That's not saying that every Lady Byng out there needs to hit and block shots, but you might like seeing another team leader or two chipping in. As a note, L.A. is terrible across the board at takeaways/giveawaywith only two scores over 1.0 and with many defensemen around 0.2but it seems that's likely due to home scoring bias.
Kings top forwards, by 2009-10 stats
Shots/60: Justin Williams 10.5, Marco Sturm 9.6*, Dustin Brown 9.4
Hits/60: Dustin Brown 10.9, Jarret Stoll 9.0, Brad Richardson 7.2
Blocked shots/60: Scott Parse 2.7, Michal Handzus 2.5, Alexei Ponikarovsky 2.0*
Takeaways/giveaway: Marco Sturm 1.6*, Wayne Simmonds 1.1, Brad Richardson 0.9
Net penalties/60: Dustin Brown +2.1, Anze Kopitar +0.5, Brad Richardson +0.5
Faceoffs: Jarret Stoll 56.0%, Michal Handzus 50.9%
Kings top defensemen, by 2009-10 stats
Shots/60: Jack Johnson 4.3, Drew Doughty 4.2, Davis Drewiske 3.0
Hits/60: Matt Green 10.9, Jack Johnson 4.8, Drew Doughty 4.6
Blocked shots/60: Matt Greene 5.8, Davis Drewiske 5.5, Rob Scuderi 4.7
Takeaways/giveaway: Willie Mitchell 0.9*, Rob Scuderi 0.7, Davis Drewiske 0.4
Net penalties/60: Davis Drewiske +0.1, Drew Doughty -0.1, Rob Scuderi -0.1
Minimum 40 games played
Kings goaltenders, 2009-10 and 2010-11 stats
Jonathan Quick's having an improved 2010-11, which in part may be due to a more reasonable workload than last season, when he started a whopping 72 of Los Angeles' 82 games. This season, rookie Jonathan Bernierpotentially a better player than Quickhas spelled the Kings' number one netminder in a more reasonable 17 of 61 games.
Overall save percentage .907 / .922
Even strength save percentage: .919 / .927
Power play save percentage: .853 / .899
Shorthanded save percentage: .907 / .909
Overall save percentage .957 / .905
Even strength save percentage: .961 / .915
Power play save percentage: .933 / .870
Shorthanded save percentage: 1.000 / .800
2009-10 statistics / 2010-11 statistics shown above
In addition to two of the top career percentages in Michal Handzus and Jarret Stoll, the Kings have a great depth of shooters, including Dustin Brown (31.6%), Justin Williams (30.8%), Marco Sturm (29.6%) and Ryan Smyth (26.7%) in addition to the shooters listed below. Pretty much only Alexei Ponikarovsky (8.3%) is a proven dud at the skills competition. Jonathan Quick has proven to be an above-average netminder over a fairly sizeable number of attempts, while more information is needed on his understudy Bernier.
Best options, shooters with 10 or more career attempts
Michal Handzus: 52.6% (10 for 19)
Jarret Stoll: 50.0% (10 for 20)
Anze Kopitar: 41.7% (20 for 48)
Jack Johnson: 33.3% (10 for 30)
Best options, shooters with a limited track record
Wayne Simmonds: 40.0% (2 for 5)
Drew Doughty: 33.3% (2 for 6)
Jonathan Quick : .735 career (72 for 98), .667 in 2009-10, .848 in 2010-11
Jonathan Bernier: .727 career (8 for 11), 1.000 in 2009-10, .400 in 2010-11
THE BIG QUESTIONS FACING THE KINGS
These quotes followed the Kings' 3-0 shutout loss to the Islanders on February 19.
Big Question #1: Does Los Angeles have an elite netminder they can ride to a Stanley Cup championship?
Jonathan Quick: "I think [my play] could be better. There's room for improvement. It needs to get better, the back end of the season here, if [we] want to make a playoff push."
VUKOTA says: Jonathan Quick 49 GP, .906 save percentage, 3.2 GVT. Jonathan Bernier 18 GP, .914 save percentage, 4.2 GVT.
Timo says: Though drafted only one year apart, keep in mind that Quick is two and a half years Bernier's senior. As a prospect, the 22-year-old Bernier (11th overall pick in 2006) was considered to be much more of a sure thing than the 25-year-old Quick (72nd overall in 2005).
Answer: Quick's a number one netminder, but it might take a potentially better Bernier to take them to the promised land. It's still a season early for this squad.
Big Question #2: Can L.A. get their power play going?
Dustin Brown: "We've been struggling all year on the power play. So we've got to figure it out eventually."
Timo says: While he's far from a complete player, defenseman Jack Johnson is pretty much the Kings' only more-than-decent performer on the man advantage. In points per 60 minutes of power play time, here's how their various players have performed this season (among players with at least two minutes of PPTOI per game): D Jack Johnson 5.9, RW Justin Williams 4.1, RW Dustin Brown 3.7, C Jarret Stoll 3.2, LW Ryan Smyth 3.1, C Anze Kopitar 2.9, C Michal Handzus 2.6, D Drew Doughty 2.5. That's a whole lot of lousy. In particular, Drew Doughty's poor performance is a big surprise, given his talent.
Answer: Probably not. The Kings need to add some more star power to their roster, both to improve their power play and to become a sure fire contender.
Big Question #3: Other than the power play, what's keeping the Kings from being a true contender?
Head coach Terry Murray: "Big picture, we've been checking well. You know, our plus-minus is very good. And usually whenever you have a good plus-minus, you have end up having success and you're going to get yourself into the right position [for] postseason play. It doesn't guarantee it, but if you check well and you can build on some of the offensive numbers like we have, I think that good things will result because of that kind of attitude."
Dustin Brown: "[We need to] keep playing the way we are. Tonight, we didn't play our best, but we've got to just find ways to get points and we've been doing a lot of that latelyjust playing good D and finding ways to win."
Hockey Propsectus 2010-11 says: The Kings have two of the NHL's Top 50 Prospects, #10 C Brayden Schenn and #28 D Derek Forbort.
Timo says: Los Angeles has a solid foundation of talent, with a borderline star forward in Anze Kopitar, a potential Norris Trophy caliber defenseman in Drew Doughty, a potential elite netminder in Jonathan Bernier and another well thought of prospect in center Brayden Schenn. Clearly, while the Kings need to continue to add to that base through their farm system, dealing one of their young goaltenders to a contenderin the offseason or during next seasoncould net them some additional talent.
Answer: More young talent. With an additional top six forward and an additional top four defenseman they should be able to make the conference finals within the next couple of seasons.
Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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