This Week in Kings (12/29/14)

Since we'll be a little light on content this week, how about we express just how lucky the Anaheim Ducks have been this season, in one table?

This past week was the NHL's annual First Day of Kwanzaa break, as the NHL is so excited about December 26th they took the previous two days off to build anticipation. As such, there's far fewer games for us to talk about. So for some added content, I decided to look at the most luckboxing luckboxers who ever luckboxed: the 2014-15 Anaheim Ducks.

Now, you're probably pretty used to us calling the Ducks "lucky". In the previous two seasons, the Ducks were average puck possession teams carried by high shooting percentages. At even strength in 2012-13, the Ducks were just a 47.9% Corsi team, but shot at 8.7% (3rd highest in the Western Conference). In 2013-14, the Ducks' Corsi improved a bit to an even 50% at 5v5, but their shooting percentage at evens went up even more too, to 9.8% (tops in the entire NHL, and a full point better than 2nd place Colorado).

But so far this season, the Ducks are shooting a far more modest 7.7% at even strength. That's not super-low or anything, but it's only 6th best in the West and 16th in the NHL, and a steep drop from last season. Their puck possession is a little better, but it's still only at 50.4% at even strength, which is hardly elite. So how are the Ducks maintaining their 1st place position in the Pacific division for the 3rd straight season? They're getting lucky in another way: one-goal games.

Take a look at the table below, that compares the number of one-goal games played by the top 4 teams in the Pacific, their records in those games, and finally the total number of games they've played in that have gone to overtime (regardless if they won or lost).

Team One-Goal Games W L OTL All OT
Anaheim 24 18 0 6 14
Vancouver 14 11 0 3 9
Los Angeles 16 5 4 7 9
San Jose 18 8 5 5 8

As you can see, the Ducks have played in more one-goal games than any of the other three teams, their record in those games is better, and more of those games go to overtime (thus guaranteeing them at least a point) as well. While there is skill involved here, there is also undoubtedly a heavy luck component to having so many games end up in one-goal and, especially, having such a good record in them. This should make intuitive sense- if you're playing so many close games, after all, you're leaving yourself open to a bounce here or a bounce there deciding the game (especially when you're going to lots of sudden death games as well). To put it quite simply, the Ducks have gotten all the bounces so far this season. Whether that will continue for the rest of the year- and, especially, into the playoffs- remains to be seen. But given their average puck possession metrics, I wouldn't bet on it.

(I should note the above stats do NOT include two-goal games that included an empty-netter, which are basically one-goal games. This is simply because going through the box score of every single two-goal game for all four teams would have been a lot more work than I was willing to do for this. But I think you get the idea anyway.)

Onto the week that was!

This Week in Games

(here's all the games involving the Pacific Division from this past week. we'll talk about the LA Kings' games in great detail, while the rest will mostly just be scores, unless there's something that really stood out about them. you'll also get links to Eric's awesome recaps which will expand on everything I'm saying in much greater detail if you missed any of them.)

Monday, December 22nd

-Vancouver Canucks 7, Arizona Coyotes 1

-Anaheim Ducks 3, San Jose Sharks 2 (OT): We just covered this!

-Calgary Flames 4, Los Angeles Kings 3 (OT): The Kings got out to a 3-0 lead and then some stupid stuff happened, I dunno. Look, you don't want to read about this again anymore than I want to write about it again, right? Let's just move on. (recap) (gamethread)

Tuesday, December 23rd

-Arizona Coyotes 5, Edmonton Oilers 1: This is probably a good time to mention that, of the Coyotes' 13 wins, 5 have come against the Oilers. They have 8 wins so far this season against Teams Not Named the Edmonton Oilers. That seems bad. But hey, at least they're doing their part in Operation Only San Jose Can Lose to Edmonton, so way to go guys!

Wednesday, December 24th-Friday, December 26th

No NHL games. There were some fun basketball games though! I could recap those for you? No? Okay then, moving on....

Saturday, December 27th

-Arizona Coyotes 2, Anaheim Ducks 1 (SO): Two goals were scored in this game 1:13 apart midway through the 1st period, and that was literally it for the entire game. Christ. Imagine if you were in the bathroom? I mean, you could easily take more than a minute and thirteen seconds to walk there, do your business, and walk back to your seat, right? Congratulations, you just missed the only goals of the entire game! Luckily the game was in Glendale so at least you probably only spent like five dollars on your ticket, I guess.

-Calgary Flames 4, Edmonton Oilers 1: Speaking of things you could have easily missed during a bathroom break, the Flames (who had dropped eight straight games before the Kings' pre-Kwanzaa disaster at Staples, if you recall) scored 3 goals in the span of 1:40 in the 1st (including 2 goals that were just 16 seconds apart!) to all but put this one away early. Poor Oilers, I guess. But at this point, does stuff like this even register for them anymore?

-Los Angeles Kings 3, San Jose Sharks 1: Because the Kings are stupid, they followed up their incredibly depressing collapse against the losers-of-eight-in-a-row Flames with a thorough smackdown of the 5-0-1 in-their-last-six Sharks. Yep. This game was basically all Kings from the start, as only Niemi kept the Sharks in it while the Kings dominated in possession and outshot them 24-13 through the first 40 minutes. Other than an embarrassing early goal that Quick gave up to Joe 'how am I Little Joe and also The Big Pavelski simultaneously' Pavelski, it was pretty much two perfect periods. San Jose rebounded a little bit to outshoot the Kings 9-5 in the 3rd, but Quick was able to shut the door and the Kings picked up a big victory over high-quality opposition. (recap) (gamethread)

Sunday, December 28th

-Anaheim Ducks 2, Vancouver Canucks 1 (OT): lol see what I mean???

This Week in Standings

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week 5v5 CF%
1. Anaheim 38 24 8 6 54 20 107 101 +6 12-3-3 12-5-3 2-0-1 50.4%
2. Vancouver 34 20 11 3 43 18 100 93 +7 9-5-1 11-6-2 1-0-1 50.0%
3. Los Angeles 36 18 11 7 43 17 100 89 +11 14-4-2 4-7-5 1-0-1 53.7%
4. San Jose 36 19 12 5 43 17 100 93 +7 10-4-2 9-8-3 0-1-1 51.8%
5. Calgary 37 19 15 3 41 16 108 99 +9 9-6-2 10-9-1 2-0-0 44.8%
6. Arizona 35 13 18 4 30 10 82 113 -31 6-8-3 7-10-1 2-1-0 49.5%
7. Edmonton 36 7 22 7 21 7 76 125 -49 5-12-2 2-10-5 0-2-0 50.2%

The Ducks rode their crazy one-goal-game luck to a 2-0-1 record and continue to have a stranglehold at the top of the division. Below them, though, suddenly EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING! The Sharks have fallen all the way from 2nd to 4th, while the Kings and Canucks each rose up one position. This is a tad misleading though, because the three teams are actually all tied with 43 points. The Canucks get 2nd due to having played two fewer games than the Kings or Sharks, while LA gets ranked ahead of their northern Californian rivals based only on having a better goal differential (the best in the division, in fact). The two teams are tied everywhere else: games played, ROWs, and even in the season series. Below the Sharks, the Flames finally got back within two points of everyone else, the Coyotes went 2-1-0 but it's way too little, too late for them (already), and the Oilers are still garbage.

This Week in #fancystats

(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater war-on-ice. note that they decided to remove the "close" situation as stat nerds everywhere have decided it actually isn't all that important, but will be adding score-adjusted stats soon, which will be great and I'll work them into this feature when they do. anyway....)

Flames 4, Kings 3 (OT)
Corsi: Kings 78-Flames 60 (overall), Kings 65-Flames 45 (5v5), Kings 6-Flames 6 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 53-Flames 40 (overall), Kings 41-Flames 30 (5v5), Kings 3-Flames 3 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: McNabb (+12), Carter (+10), Gaborik (+9). Worst: Brown/Stoll (tied, even), Toffoli (+1)
CGY Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Russell (+1), Byron/Wideman (tied, -1). Worst: Brodie (-13), Engelland (-11), Colborne/Giordano (tied, -9)

Kings 3, Sharks 1
: Kings 60-Sharks 39 (overall), Kings 47-Sharks 29 (5v5), Kings 14-Sharks 13 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 43-Sharks 27 (overall), Kings 32-Sharks 19 (5v5), Kings 13-Sharks 9 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Lewis (+14), Pearson/Muzzin (tied, +10). Worst: Stoll (-7), Williams (-1), Brown (even)
SJ Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Thornton (+1), Braun/Vlasic (tied, -2). Worst: Hannan (-11), Tennyson (-10), Burns (-8)

Next Week in the Pacific

(this is exactly what it sounds like: the next week's schedule for all 7 Pacific Division teams. all times are pacific because, um, duh.)

Team 12/29 12/30 12/31 1/1 1/2 1/3 1/4
LA @CGY (6:00) @EDM (6:30) - @VAN (7:00) - vs.NSH (1:00) -
ANA - - vs.SJ (5:00) - vs.STL (7:00) - vs.NSH (5:00)
VAN - @SJ (7:00) - vs.LA (7:00) - vs.DET (7:00) -
SJ - vs.VAN (7:00) @ANA (5:00) - - vs.STL (7:30) -
CGY vs.LA (6:00) - vs.EDM (6:30) - vs.NYI (6:00) - -
ARI vs.PHI (6:00) - @DAL (5:00) - - vs.CBJ (5:00) -
EDM - vs.LA (6:30) @CGY (6:30) - @COL (6:00) - vs.NYI (6:30)

The Kings are on a quick 3-game swing through Western Canada over the next four days. They'll go for revenge against Calgary tonight, try to avoid becoming the only Western Conference team other than the Sharks to lose to the Oilers tomorrow, and wrap things up against Vancouver on New Year's, uh, Night I guess? That's the only game on 1/1 other than the Winter Classic, in case you were wondering. Seems like Vancouver always plays late on New Year's for some reason, right? Weird. Anyway, the Kings then come home to play the Predators on Saturday, before they get four days off ahead of their Stanley Cup Final rematch with the Rangers the following Thursday.

As for the other teams, well, they play some games and stuff. I dunno, it's almost 3 pacific and I wanna get this thing out.

Before we wrap it up, just wanted to note here that, for the first time in 7 months, we're taking a week off from the Jewelcast tonight. The Kings are playing the Flames for the second straight Monday and I think we've covered that angle about as well as we possibly can (with much help from our friends at Matchsticks & Gasoline, of course) over the last two episodes. Also, the game starts at 6 pacific, which is usually the time we do the show live, so yeah. We'll be back with our normal live broadcast next Monday, 1/5. See you then!