Kings forwards have struggled to produce very many goals over the first 59 games this year. LA is 29th in goal scoring and forwards are averaging a mere 1.8 goals per game. What can we expect from Kings forwards down the stretch? Can we expect these numbers to improve and if so, by how much?
In order to look into this, I took each forwards shot rates and shooting percentage over the past 4 seasons going back to 2010-11. I projected how many goals we’d expect to see based on their playing time this season and if they played all remaining 23 games down the stretch given that playing time.
Obviously, I’m not predicting all of these guys will play in every remaining game or even that their roles will remain the same. I ran the numbers based on their roles to date and projected over 23 games just for the sake of comparison. They are broken down by even strength and power play situations. I didn’t attempt to project short-handed goals because they are heavily driven by luck.
It’s important to remember that shooting percentage is pretty whacky and just because a player posted a 10% shooting percentage over the past 4 years doesn’t mean that he will continue to post that same percentage. Over a sample of 23 games, anybody can run extremely hot or cold. These numbers are best used to provide us with some reasonable expectations for future performance.
Also, for players without a lot of NHL experience I factored in their AHL games combined with their NHL equivalencies to beef up their samples and come up with realistic projections. I used a methodology similar to what Thomas Drance has done in the past to come up with projections for Canucks youngsters. I employed this methodology for Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey, Tanner Pearson and Jordan Nolan.
Now onto the numbers:
Kings Forwards Expected Goals
|Player Name||Exp EV G||Exp PP G||Tot Exp G||'13-14 Goals||Total|
Over the first 59 games Kings forwards averaged 1.8 goals per game. Based on our projections, which only accounts for even strength and power play situations, we can expect Kings forwards to score 2.2 goals per game (if they used their optimal line-up over the final 23 games). As a team, the Kings have only scored 2.25 goals per game total thus far this season. So if you factor in goals from defenseman and goals in all other situations, we can reasonably expect to see a lot more goals from the Kings’ down the stretch.
- No surprise at the top. Jeff Carter should easily end the year as the Kings goal scoring leader. The scary/ sad thing here is that even if he didn’t play another game this season he’d likely still end up 2nd on the team in goals scored.
- Anze Kopitar is posting the 3rd lowest goals per game rate of his career, but will still likely end up 2nd on the team in goals. Not coincidentally, he is posting the 3rd lowest shot rate of his career. That being said, he is shooting much more on the power play as compared to last season which is a great sign. Last year, he only took 3.6 shots for every 60 minutes of PP time (one of the lowest rates in the NHL). This year it has jumped back up closer to career norms at 7.8.
- Justin Williams is right on the cusp of a 20 goal pace. If he doesn’t make it that would give the Kings only two 20 goal scorers on the year. Over a full season, LA hasn’t had that few 20 goal scorers on their roster since 2003-04.
- Tyler Toffoli is back in the line-up and is getting copious ice time on the top line. If that continues, he should out-pace Dustin Brown. 15-17 goals is a great first year for a 21 year-old NHL forward, especially in what would be 62 games. Yet, what if Toffoli had played the full year and received top six minutes? Based on our projections, if Toffoli played 82 games this season and received 14 minutes of even strength and 3 minutes of power play time per game, we’d expect him to have scored 23 goals this year. Not bad.
- Dustin Brown is on pace to put up his lowest goal total since 2005-06. Even in last year’s strike shortened season, Brown put up 18. So what gives? Well, his problems haven’t been at even strength. He’s been producing goals and shots at evens pretty much at his career norms. The problem has been on the power play. Brown only has 1 power play goal this season despite producing a decent amount of shots. The problem has been with his shooting percentage. Coming into this year his shooting percentage on the power play over the past 6 years had been at 16.8%. So far this year, it stands at 4%. If those numbers climb back toward career norms, Brown could provide a real boost to the Kings' punch-less power play.
- Mike Richards is currently putting up his lowest goals per game pace of his career, including his rookie year where he only scored 11 goals. His numbers look to improve over the final stretch, mainly due to having posted an unsustainably low shooting percentage of 5.8% so far.
- Dwight King started the year on fire but has cooled of late as his off the charts shooting percentage has come back down to Earth. King has a hard time producing a lot of shots, which will keep his goal totals down. That being said he has been the only depth player on the roster to provide any significant production. It’s scary to think where the Kings would be right now without his production.
- These projections are bearish on Linden Vey and Tanner Pearson, but not without good reason. Even though both are talented young players, over their minor careers neither have been prolific goal scorers. That being said their presence in the line-up over players like Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan should provide a boost.