32 Days to Go: The Worst Penalty Kill There Ever Was

HINT: There’s a reason we’re posting about it on a Kings blog.

Our countdown to the 2016-17 season continues, with 32 days to go.

As Los Angeles Kings fans, we’ve gotten to take a lot of things for granted over the last few years. One big one? Having a decent penalty kill. The Kings’ return to the playoffs in 2009-10 was in spite of having the 20th-ranked PK in the league, but since then, the Kings have been in the top half of the league in penalty kill percentage every year.

This was not the case in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

LA doesn’t hold many single-season team records, but they’ve got one locked down, and it’s not a good one: the 1979-80 Kings had the worst penalty kill ever. They are the only team since special teams statistics started being tracked to give up power play goals on more than 32% of their penalty kills. And given that the worst penalty kill percentage since the lockout was Florida’s 74.2% in 2012-13, there’s a good chance this record will stand the test of time.

The ten worst penalty kills since stats started being kept:

  1. 1979-80 Los Angeles Kings: 67.7%
  2. 1982-83 Los Angeles Kings: 68.2%
  3. 1978-79 Washington Capitals: 70.3%
  4. 1984-85 Vancouver Canucks: 70.5%
  5. 1978-79 Colorado Rockies: 70.6%
  6. 1981-82 Los Angeles Kings: 71.3%
  7. 1974-75 Washington Capitals: 71.3%
  8. 1985-86 Los Angeles Kings: 71.7%
  9. 1977-78 Vancouver Canucks: 71.7%
  10. 1985-86 Detroit Red Wings: 71.8%

(stats via Arctic Ice Hockey)

The Kings used twelve defensemen in 1979-80, and clearly, it hurt them. They weren’t just a one-year wonder though; as you can see above, they struggled with their penalty kill for the better part of a decade. Sure, being a poor defensive team in the midst of a boom in offense didn’t help, but even if you adjust for the league average at the time, LA brings up the rear.

So even if the PK takes a hit next season, just be glad a third of LA’s penalties aren’t resulting in goals for the other team.