All season we've been hammering home that puck possession is important. The reason we've been stressing possession stats is because people have shown that there is heavy correlation between these numbers and playoff success.
Last year, the Kings were among the top possession teams in the league and tops in the league after the trade deadline where they dumped possession anchor Jack Johnson in favor of Jeff Carter. But how did they do this year?
(all stats courtesy of timeonice.com)
- Well, in short they've been amazing. The Kings started off at an unsustainable pace and the numbers have slowly regressed to a more down to earth 56%. That number is still good for best in the league (50% is average). To put it into perspective, consider that the '07 Red Wings have the best mark in this stats' short history at 58%. 56% is the best mark for a team since the '09 Blackhawks.
- Keaton Ellerby's possession number (aka Corsi) since being acquired has been a stellar 56%. That's good for 4th best on the team among defensemen. The team's dip after acquiring Ellerby looks dramatic, but again that was just likely a result of the numbers coming down to a more sustainable pace.
- Robyn Regehr's numbers have been less impressive (although we should keep in mind that Regehr sees tougher minutes and 12 games is a small sample). His possession number is only 49% in his 12 games with the Kings, worst among defensemen on the team. Earlier in the season we argued that the Kings should look elsewhere at the deadline because of Regehr's tendency to be an anchor on teammate possession numbers. That has held true so far in his time here. Drew Doughty's possession number has been
49%51.5% when paired with Regehr. When not paired with Regehr, Doughty's number is 107.5 percentage points better at 59%.
- But has Regehr had a huge impact on team numbers? In his 12 games with the Kings their possession number has been 54%. In the twelve games prior to Regehr's arrival, they were at 55%. So if Regehr's presence has had a negative impact on team possession numbers, the impact seems to be a marginal one.
- Even though the Kings have been dominant in possession, their goal differential has lagged behind. Their goal rate is only 51% at even strength (meaning that they've only marginally outscored their opponents). The reason for this disparity between possession and goal differential is that their combined shooting and save percentage (aka PDO) is 23rd worst in the league. Coming into the season we knew that luck was going to have more of an impact on the standings in a shortened season and L.A. has been one of the teams this season who have been snake-bitten by the percentages.
- Interestingly enough, the Kings faced the exact same phenomenon last season. A strong possession team going into the playoffs who had been a bit unlucky percentage-wise. Their fortunes turned at just the right time and the result was their first championship in franchise history. If the hockey gods again smile upon them this post-season, that combined with their incredible possession numbers could make them a unbeatable force.