The Los Angeles Kings had a 6-0-0 homestand a few weeks back. It was a new record for the franchise, as they had never had a perfect homestand longer than five games. As a result, the team was optimistic as they embarked on a taxing five-game road trip.
Ten days later, the Kings were back in Los Angeles, with only three points to show for their trip. However, the Kings didn't exactly drop off a cliff when they left Staples Center. Let's take a look at some of the key stats to see what changed... and what didn't. For each stat (all situations AND 5v5 Close situations), I've bolded either the home number or the road number, depending on where the Kings performed better.
Los Angeles Kings: Six-Game Homestand vs Five-Game Road Trip
|STATISTIC||HOMESTAND (ALL SITUATIONS)||HOMESTAND (5v5 CLOSE SITUATIONS)||ROAD TRIP (5v5 CLOSE SITUATIONS)||ROAD TRIP (ALL SITUATIONS)|
|Shots On Goal %||44.1%||45.9%||45.6%||50.0%|
|Team Shooting %||12.1%||9.0%||1.6%||5.4%|
|Team Save %||97.5%||100.0%||91.9%||91.0%|
|Off ZS %||43.1%||43.4%||44.6%||47.7%|
(all stats via war-on-ice.com)
Some takeaways from the above:
- The biggest reason the Kings won all six of their home games? Goaltending. After Martin Jones backstopped LA to a comfortable 4-1 win, Jonathan Quick stepped in and won five in a row while allowing just four goals. The most eye-popping stat: on their homestand, the Kings didn't allow a single goal at even strength in a close situation. (Reminder: a "close situation" in the first two periods is when the teams are within one goal; in the third, it's when the teams are tied.) On the road, the goaltending remained solid, but the tables turned; the Kings only scored one goal in a 5v5 close situation, and that was in the final game of the trip (Dustin Brown's go-ahead goal).
- In general, the possession stats in 5v5 close situations were better at home than they were on the road. Though the overall possession stats were best for the Kings on the road, that points to score effects more than anything else. LA played two road games (Pittsburgh and Detroit) where they spent the majority of the game with a multiple-goal deficit, and that skews the shot attempt numbers.
- There were more overall Corsi and Fenwick events during the Kings' road slump than during their home excellence. This is encouraging. As the Kings were generally losing on the road, it means they were able to push the pace of play and generate more shots while behind. It's always said that a faster game favors the losing team, and the ability of the Kings to pick things up when their down works in their favor. (It might also indicate why the Kings were able to come back so often during last year's postseason.)
- Other factors (penalty differential, faceoffs, and zone starts) were not significantly different, though the Kings exhibited slightly better discipline on home ice. This leads to the other big difference...
- ... special teams. The Kings' penalty kill was nearly perfect at home, while the power play was excellent as well. On the road? Quite the opposite, even with the Kings pulling shorthanded goals out of who-knows-where. Special teams can have a disproportionate effect on the outcome of games, and it made quite an impact in the season's first month.
Of course, player injuries and suspensions influenced the Kings' performance; the Kings are going to have a better shooting percentage when Marian Gaborik is playing, and they're going to have better possession numbers and special teams with Anze Kopitar in the lineup. But this was meant to show a slump after a winning streak doesn't mean that a team transformed from good to bad. Rather, it can be a few small factors adding up to a few losses.
And if the home/road records do persist? The Kings play their next seven games in California. Hooray!