Are the Kings One of the Most Consistent Teams in the NHL?
People love to say that LA is one of the most consistent teams, and that it is one of their strengths. It also happens to be one of the claims we can analyze by looking at the stats.
When TV analysts talk about the success of the LA Kings, they all reach to the same bag of conclusions as to why the Kings have won a lot over the past four seasons. One of those reasons centers around consistency thanks to system dedication. That, in turn, has led to a lot of posts analyzing things like Kings' breakouts to see what is consistent among their personnel despite widely varying skill levels.
The Kings' coaching and dedication to system has certainly yielded results. They've been the top Corsi For percentage team in the NHL four years running. In the 2011-2012 season, they were second only to Detroit, and only by a tenth of a percent. Corsi has been established as one of the best predictors of a team's success in the future, even if more advanced metrics are coming out to perhaps improve on that thinking. What the hockey analytics world is barreling toward is how to accurately assess and measure shot quality as it affects a team's success, too. There's a deep rabbit hole for you to go down there if you wish, but one of the other key components is undoubtedly scoring chances. Scoring chances tend to track Corsi pretty well, which means they track winning pretty well, too.
Mass scoring chance tracking has really come into common discussions thanks to war-on-ice (which is leaving very soon, sadly). It has also been one of the interesting things to track for the Kings. Until recently, the Kings had been the top scoring chance for percentage team in the NHL, but they're been passed slightly by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The gist of an NHL game is that if your PDO is relatively flat over time, winning the scoring chance battle should win you the game. The fluctuation of PDO is something that has been widely documented and often pointed to for team slumps. No team is immune to PDO fluctuations, although some usually fair much better than other either thanks to top goaltending or shooting talent. Goaltender variations have been documented as well, and we know some are more consistent than others (hint: Quick is sometimes a wild card).
So, how do the Kings fair when it comes to scoring chances? Surely there's a reason they've never lost more than three games in a row in regulation (that was the start of the season, at that)? Scoring chance rolling averages are one of the things that @Classlicity (be sure to give her a follow if you haven't). You can see charts for all 30 teams here. The data runs through 3/10, so let's look at LA first.
The chart shows us that save a recent dip, the Kings have always been better than NHL average when it comes to scoring chances for and allowed, all the while PDO fluctuates up and down. While these trends seem pretty steady, it would help to compare to some other top NHL teams to understand what the Kings are doing better, potentially.
Looking at these charts for the top teams, it becomes easy to spot things like winning streaks and losing streaks, or in Pittsburgh's case, a coaching change. It also shows that even the best teams are subject to bad runs. It doesn't matter if you're great at creating scoring chances or great at limiting them - both will probably trend up and down. It's also common to see them completely flip one another, turning a team strength into a team weakness. Now it becomes clear that LA is the least susceptible to these trends out of the group. In Washington's case, it shows that tightly consistent goaltending mixed with good scoring chance performance is a perfect recipe for success.
If you had to extract one positive from these charts, it's that LA has largely been immune to long ruts from which they cannot seem to get free. Come playoff time, a run of bad play can't extend more than three games, or your season is likely over. As long as the Kings can stay healthy, there seems to be a lot of good reasons for optimism come April.