LAK/ANH Playoff Preview: Scoring Chances and Zone Entries
The Kings basically had their way with the Ducks.
Yeah, game 1 already happened. Shut up.
Throughout the course of the year, I've tracked zone entries and scoring chances for almost every Kings game. If you want a primer or refresher on zone entries, this is a great place to start.
What we have learned about the Kings this year is basically the same thing we learned last year. The Kings dump the puck in a lot, significantly under league average. When given the option to dump the puck or carry the puck in, the Kings opt to dump the puck in about 55% of the time. League average is close to 50%. However, they counter this by limiting their opponents to similar numbers and by forcing a lot of offensive-zone faceoffs.
Against Anaheim, the same storylines are just as prevalent and maybe even more exaggerated than they are against other teams. Essentially, Los Angeles is able to enforce their style of play much more effectively than Anaheim is.
Overall, the Kings gained the offensive blue line considerably more often than Anaheim. Los Angeles controlled 52% of all entries against the Ducks. The real difference is, again, in controlled zone entries. The Kings still didn't gain the line with any great efficiency, controlling the puck over the line just 49% of the time. However, they severely throttled the Ducks' ability to gain the line, limiting them to controlled entries on just 33% of all entries. As a result, the Kings generated significantly more shots (0.49 per entry to Anaheim's 0.38).
Now, presented with this kind of information, intuition should tell you what happened on the scoring chance sheet. The Kings, again, dominated the Ducks. It wasn't a contest. Los Angeles owned 58.96% of scoring chances at 5v5 play and 61.26% of chances overall. That is a significant disparity and it lines up really well with the possession numbers from the season series.
On the individual side of things, several Kings had excellent efforts in the season series. Anze Kopitar was his usual stellar self, pocketing controlled entries a team-leading 78% of the time. Drew Doughty was also excellent, picking up controlled entries on 75% of his efforts. Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Jarret Stoll, Slava Voynov, and Mike Richards also played most of the season series with a controlled entry rate over 50%. Marian Gaborik and Tanner Pearson also succeeded in very small samples.
For scoring chances, it's considerably faster to list the people that did not succeed. Matt Greene, Jake Muzzin, Mike Richards, Kyle Clifford, Jordan Nolan, and Tyler Toffoli all conceded more scoring chances than they generated. However, we are working with extremely small samples in the cases of Greene, Nolan, and Toffoli, all of whom were on the ice for fewer than 10 scoring chances combined between the two teams.
The biggest thing we can take away from the season series is that anything can happen when you boil the season down to a selection of games. Much like a majority of their season, Anaheim had very little business winning the number of games that it did. Still, they won 3 of the 5 contests. A short series can victimize the superior team. The Kings are a statistical heavyweight heading into this series, but, well, anything can happen.
If the Ducks want to feel better about the underlying numbers in their matchup with the Kings, they should look to game 1. They dominated the Kings on the scoring chance sheet (21-11 overall, 17-5 EV) and managed to make possession a close call instead of a landslide. However, they lost. Crazy things happen in small samples.