Los Angeles Kings Midseason Review: Scoring Chances

Harry How

We are now halfway through the season, which makes it a great time to take a look at how the Kings are doing with regard to scoring chance numbers. If you're unacquainted with the scoring chance project, read more about it here. Basically, during each game I keep track of scoring chances which are generally defined by shots within this area of the ice.

People have found that there is a very heavy correlation between scoring chances and possession numbers (i.e. even strength shot attempt differential aka Corsi). Yet, scoring chances are still useful in smaller samples. It's just another layer of information we can take into account when trying to analyze a team's performance. Also, more than anything, they are probably the most accessible entry point for people who are curious about looking into new types of hockey stats.

Let's start by looking at the Kings overall numbers:

Los Angeles Kings - Scoring Chances- Team

Kings SC Opp. SC +/- % ES Kings ES Opp. +/- %
1 119 120 -1 50% 92 96 -4 49%
2 142 102 40 58% 118 77 41 61%
3 112 94 18 54% 95 72 23 57%
OT 0 6 -6 0% 0 4 -4 0%
Total 373 322 51 54% 305 249 56 55%

ES = Even Strength

  • If you've been following my posts, you probably know that the Kings are a dominant puck possession team. They are in fact #1 in the NHL in that regard and it's really not even close. So, it makes sense that they'd also be dominant in scoring chances. They get 55% of all scoring chances that occur at even strength.
  • It's interesting to see how they've done by period. They've been getting off to groggy starts, while waking up and running roughshod over the competition in 2nd periods. When you compare only the 1st and 3rd periods, they register about the same number of scoring chances but give up much fewer in the 3rd.


  • (Tables are sortable)

Los Angeles Kings - Scoring Chances - Forwards

SC +/- ES SC +/- ES SC % ES SC FOR /60 ES SC AGAINST /60 ES SC +/- /60 SC Taken ES Taken ES Taken /60
Richards 29 16 56% 14.4 11.4 3.0 25 17 3.2
Kopitar 39 23 56% 16.3 12.8 3.6 28 26 4.0
Gagne 20 10 59% 15.7 11.1 4.6 12 7 3.2
Clifford 21 21 59% 16.7 11.5 5.2 24 23 5.7
Williams 64 41 62% 17.9 11.0 6.9 38 30 5.1
Lewis -14 1 50% 13.0 12.8 0.2 24 22 4.5
Brown 29 9 53% 14.4 13.0 1.4 49 39 6.1
Fraser 1 5 53% 15.5 13.8 1.7 10 9 3.1
Penner 14 8 54% 14.4 12.2 2.2 20 19 5.2
Stoll -9 -2 49% 11.6 12.0 -0.4 17 11 2.2
Nolan -1 -3 48% 11.6 12.5 -0.9 10 9 2.7
King 9 8 54% 12.3 10.6 1.7 17 17 3.6
Carter 52 33 60% 17.8 12.0 5.8 50 41 7.2

ES = Even Strength, SC = Scoring chance, /60 = per 60 minutes of ice time, Taken = A chance a player has registered himself by directing a shot at the net

Positives

  • No surprise really that Jeff Carter has been on ice for more scoring chances for in all situations. When he has been ice the Kings have gotten a whopping 60% of the chances. He has also taken more chances than any other King, 50, and has scored a goal on 14 of them. So yeah he's been pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
  • Going a little more unnoticed has been the play of Justin Williams. Williams is +41 in even strength scoring chance differential which leads the team. He has also registered a lot of chances, but unfortunately unlike Carter his just haven't been going in. If he continues his stellar play, his goal rate should increase substantially in the second half.
  • Kings forwards are very balanced in terms of scoring chance percentage. They only have two forwards that have a negative scoring chance differential. Although the forwards among the Kings' bottom six don't generate a lot of offense, they give up very little. Dwight King's numbers exemplify this the most. Opposing teams have only been able to generate 10.6 scoring chances per 60 when he's been on ice-- best on the team.

Negatives

  • Scoring chance percentage while Simon Gagne was on the ice was 59%, tied for third best with Kyle Clifford. Their numbers are better than every other left-wing on the roster. Were the Kings too hasty in getting rid of Gagne?
  • Jarret Stoll has emphasized that he is focused on defense this season. And it's true he has played a positionally sound game and has yielded little to opposing offenses. He's also been the forward that has started the most shifts in the defensive zone. That being said, his offensive production has been paltry. He has taken the fewest scoring chances at even strength. The team could use a little more production out of him (and his line in general) to take some pressure off the top six.
  • Jordan Nolan has started more of his shifts in the offensive end (relative to defensive zone starts) than nearly every other player on the roster. He is also usually lining up against the opposition's weaker competition. Even with all that help, he still is in the red. He has taken fewer total chances than any other King. He is still seeing time in the lineup due to his big bodied play, which Sutter likes to have among his bottom 6, and his high shooting percentage. He has scored as many goals as Justin Williams while registering only a small fraction of the scoring chances. If Tyler Toffoli replaces anyone in the lineup, look for Jordan Nolan to be the leading candidate.


Los Angeles Kings - Scoring Chances - Defensemen

SC +/- ES SC +/- ES SC % ES SC FOR /60 ES SC AGAINST /60 ES SC +/- /60 SC Taken ES Taken ES Taken /60
Ellerby -14 -6 46.9% 13.1 14.8 -1.7 2 2 0.6
Muzzin 78 55 69.0% 18.3 8.2 10.1 11 6 1.1
Scuderi -55 -13 47.1% 13.8 15.4 -1.7 4 4 0.5
Doughty 19 11 52.2% 14.8 13.6 1.3 14 9 1.0
Voynov 38 30 57.5% 14.8 10.9 3.9 6 6 0.8
Martinez 5 4 52.0% 13.4 12.4 1.0 5 3 0.8
Drewiske 4 27 64.8% 16.8 9.1 7.7 7 5 1.4

Positives

  • Davis Drewiske and Jake Muzzin have given up fewer chances to the opposition than any other defensemen. They've benefited from a lot of offensive zone starts and soft minutes, but have played as well as could be expected under those conditions. They're scoring chance differentials are eye-popping, and while the dominance of Kings' forwards deserves a lot of credit for this, the contributions of the greenest members of the Kings defense shouldn't be ignored. They've also taken more chances relative to ice time than any other Kings defensemen, with Drewiske leading. These numbers make a strong argument that Drewiske should see more time in the lineup.
  • Slava Voynov has gotten substantially tougher minutes than Drewiske or Muzzin yet his scoring chance differential is in the upper echelon of defensemen. He has allowed much fewer chances than Scuderi and Doughty, only 10.9 es chances against per 60.
  • Despite very tough minutes Drew Doughty is above water in scoring chance differentials. He has also registered more total chances than any other defensemen, yet still doesn't have a goal. If the averages can correct themselves, look for Doughty to have a big second half if he continues this output.

Negatives

  • Rob Scuderi is one of two defensemen in the red. While a lot of this can be forgiven due to him receiving possibly the toughest minutes on the roster, the amount at which the Kings are bleeding chances with him out there is concerning. His even strength chances against per 60 of 15.4 is by far the worst of the squad.
  • Keeton Ellerby is below even in even strength scoring chance differential. He has recently tumbled down the depth chart and is now on the bottom pair. He takes more penalties relative to his ice time than nearly any other defenseman in the NHL. He also gives up the 2nd most chances relative to his ice time on the team. Maybe it is Ellerby, and not Martinez, who Drewiske should be replacing in the lineup.

Conclusion

The Achilles heel for the Kings this season has been goaltending. They are 25th in the NHL in even strength save percentage. Their sv% on scoring chance shots is a very shaky .800. Both possession and scoring chance numbers show that there is no reason for panic regarding the Kings' green defensive corps.

Currently, the Kings sit 11 points behind the Ducks in the division race. The Ducks' underlying numbers have been nowhere near as strong as the Kings' and they have also benefited from some extremely good fortune. According to Sports Club Stats, the Kings will have to go something like 17-4-2 to win the division. Recently, NHL Numbers revealed a new predictive rankings system which had the Kings overtaking the Ducks. Taking into account the Kings' strong scoring chance numbers and the very real possibility that the Ducks are due to come crashing down to Earth, we could see a very tight division race down the stretch-- if the Kings can get some consistent play from their goaltenders.

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