Know Thy Enemy: Los Angeles Kings Power Play Preview

Andrew Fielding-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings are a fantastic possession team, but their struggles with turning possession into quality shots has led to some significant struggles on the power play all season.

The Los Angeles Kings finished the regular season at 15.1% on the power play, good enough for 27th in the league out of 30 teams. If that's not living proof to the idea that you don't need to have a good power play to win then I don't know what is.

Despite being one of the league's best teams in terms of offensive zone time and puck possession, the Kings for much of the year have lacked finishing power and thus have struggled to get what I would call "quality chances" on the power play, either failing to execute on the play or settling for a mediocre shot.

While there are certainly arguments that LA's season average is about what to expect on the power play, the Kings have been anything but anemic with the extra man as of late. In their seven games against San Jose, the Kings earned 24 power play chances and converted on six of them, good enough for 25%, only marginally behind Anaheim's 26.9% (that's slightly inflated due to a 4/6 performance in game five).

Small sample size granted, but it's no clue the Kings sudden clicking with the extra man was a large contributor to their epic comeback over San Jose. After failing to score with the extra man in each of their final three regular season games, the Kings scored four of their six goals in games 4-7, and notched a pair in game three, which was arguably the turning point of the series.

As you can logically expect, their quarterback Drew Doughty led the team in power play scoring that series, notching five points. It's blatantly obvious that the Kings try their hardest to funnel everything through their dynamic defensive stalwart, and why not when he can produce those kinds of numbers. While shot blocking was, and will remain a key for the Ducks in this series, Doughty's true power comes in his distribution, so not overcommitting or scrambling while shorthanded will be vital for Anaheim to contain the Kings while short.

And then there's their offensive threats: Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik, and Anze Kopitar. Carter led the Kings through the first round with two power play goals, while Kopitar had one and two points. Even by trying to factor out Doughty, the Kings still have a dangerous arsenal of weapons that will be tough to handle.

As for the Ducks penalty kill, I know they have the skill and speed to counter this unit, but that won't do much if they can't get the puck back. So thus, the Ducks will win this matchup if they can keep the Kings out of the middle of the ice. Go back and watch a Kings game and you will see how painfully obvious it is that they try to move the puck to the middle of the ice for a shot, most often by cycling and waiting for a lane to open up to a man who has drifted into a soft spot in the mid to low slot. Out high, the defense will most often rotate to the middle of the ice before letting a shot go. Taking away this area of the ice will put a serious damper on LA, and help keep them from capitalizing on the chances they will inevitably get if the quality of officiating we've seen throughout these playoffs continues.

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