Mark Humphrey/Associated Press
Reason for Faith: Puck-possession dominance
The Los Angeles Kings are known for a lot of things, including size, physical play and a devotion to defensive detail. They’re also known for dominating territorial play at five-on-five, as they fire far more shots at opposition goalies than they allow on Jonathan Quick.
Before missing the playoffs in 2015, the Kings won two Stanley Cups and went to the Western Conference Final in the span of three years, winning 10 playoff series in all. Here’s how they fared by my preferred shot metric, score-adjusted Fenwick (which includes shots and missed shots) over that run:
- 2011-12: 53.7 percent, T-4th (with Boston) in the NHL
- 2012-13: 56.2 percent, T-1st (with Chicago) in the NHL
- 2013-14: 56.5 percent, 1st in the NHL
Those numbers actually understate the Kings’ record a little bit, because Darryl Sutter only took over as head coach halfway through 2011-12. Over his 49 games behind the bench, Los Angeles actually led the league in score-adjusted Fenwick.
The Kings are up to their old tricks this year. Their 56.4 percent score-adjusted Fenwick is the best total in the NHL this season by some distance.
Reason for Fear: Defensive depth
The top end of the Kings’ blue line is fantastic. Drew Doughty is an elite player and one of a handful of defencemen in the conversation for best in the league. Jake Muzzin, long underrated, is starting to get the attention he deserves as the Kings’ No. 2 rearguard.
After that, things get a little iffy. Alec Martinez is day-to-day, per Kings insider Jon Rosen, and he has been shaky this year when not paired with Muzzin. Brayden McNabb, likewise, has been largely ineffective without Doughty.
That’s half of the top four, and the situation gets more troubling down the line. Castoffs Rob Scuderi and Luke Schenn don’t inspire confidence, Jamie McBain has been Mr. Press Box for the Kings and Matt Greene has played all of three games this year.
This is a team that could be just one bad injury away from having a single truly reliable defenceman.
Stanley Cup Odds: 8-to-1