"It's one of THOSE games."
If you've been following the Los Angeles Kings this season, it's a phrase that you've probably heard a lot. It's a game where the Kings control the shot battle, get the brunt of the scoring chances, and lose. As the Kings have transformed into a possession-oriented squad, "THOSE games" have happened more and more often.
Now, does this really happen to the Kings more than it does other teams? It seems like it, but we decided to go back over the last 25 years to see whether any other teams have experienced this exasperation as often as LA has. Time to play "Fact" or "Fiction"!
(Statistics are courtesy of hockey-reference.com, a wonderful website. All data is since 1987-88.)
Teams are averaging around 30 shots per game this season. So we'll start by looking at games in which a team has gotten at least 35 shots, held their opponent to 25 shots or fewer, and lost. Which team did that the most in a single season?
Scenario 1: At Least 35 Shots For, No More Than 25 Shots Against
|Rank||Team||Season||Losses||Reg L||OT L||Rank||Team||Season||Losses||Reg L||OT L|
|13||CHI||2010-11||7||7||0||26||22 other teams||6|
- Two-thirds of the way through the season, the Kings (4-3-3 in "THOSE games") are already pretty high on this list. Chicago (7-4-2) is the only other team to lose six such games this season.
- NHL teams have combined for 133 of these games this season. The team which dominated the shot battle has won 69 of them, or 52% of such games. So the Kings have only been slightly unlucky here, winning 40% of such games.
- Those poor mid-90s Boston Bruins. They weren't particularly bad at either scoring or goaltending (Bill Ranford was their goalie in 1996!), but they lost ten of "THOSE games" twice. The only other team to do it ten times in one year? The 2011-12 San Jose Sharks. Oh, so that's why they were so irritated when Ben Scrivens stopped 59 of their shots last week; they've seen this before.
- This type of game was relatively rare between the New Jersey Devils' 1995 Stanley Cup and the lockout. Probably safe to assume that the changes in playing styles led to fewer 35-shot games in general.
- Lots of Stanley Cup winners on this list. The 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks, the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks, the 2000-01 Colorado Avalanche, the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings, and the 2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning all had at least seven of "THOSE games" in the regular season before winning it all. Hopefully, that's a good sign.
- One past LA team appears on this list. The 2009-10 Kings lost eight of these games, including a memorably awful loss to Detroit and a defeat in which they outshot Edmonton 55-16. (This is known as the year Terry Murray drove Jonathan Quick into the ground.)
So this season already holds some unfortunate company. Let's try going for stingier games and see where this year's Kings rank there.
Scenario 2: At Least 30 Shots For, No More Than 20 Shots Against
|Rank||Team||Season||Losses||Reg L||OT L|
|14||19 other teams
- This type of game, however, was pretty frequent pre-lockout. Since the lockout, only three teams have had this type of game more often that the Kings (1-2-3) have this season.
- NHL teams have combined for 70 of these games this season. The team which dominated the shot battle has won 46 of them, or 66% of such games. The Kings have bucked this trend, losing five of six in this scenario. This isn't just because we're the Kings; the 2011-12 squad had seven games with this scenario and won five of them.
- The St. Louis Blues lost this type of game six times in 1999-00, six times in 2000-01, and seven times in 2001-02. The Blues still managed to win the Presidents' Trophy in 1999-00; they were pretty damn good back then. As they were last year; they did this six times in 48 games.
- Don't feel bad for the 2001-02 New Jersey Devils; they had eighteen games where they got at least 30 shots and held their opponents to 20 or fewer.
We'll end with one more scenario, which combines a bunch of shots with a stingy defensive performance. If you've ever thrown your remote through the TV after a loss, it was probably due to one of these games:
Scenario 3: At Least 35 Shots For, No More Than 20 Shots Against
|Rank||Team||Season||Losses||Reg L||OT L|
|15||30 other teams||3
- Saturday's game against Philadelphia is one of five games in which the Kings lost despite racking up over 35 shots and allowing fewer than 20. In the last 25 years, no team has ever lost more than six of those games. This could be a record-breaking year!
- NHL teams have combined for 35 of these games this season. So the Kings have accounted for almost one out of every five games like this. The average win percentage for teams which have outshot their opponents this considerable is 57%.
- Since 1987-88, the Kings had never lost more than two of these games in a single season. Ouch.
- The 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings hold the record for most games (not losses) in which this occurred, with 14. You might remember them as Stanley Cup Champions, and the best single-season possession team since the lockout.
Compared to the rest of the NHL this season, the Kings lose the most games in which they comfortably outshoot their opponents.They're also losing these types of games more often than any past Kings team. The rest of the season will tell whether our beloved Kings can be historically good at losing these games.