Know Thy Enemy: Los Angeles Kings Penalty Kill Preview

Andrew Fielding-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings may not be the best team in the NHL in terms of power play, but that's okay because their penalty kill has been a large strength over the last several seasons, and is a huge reason behind their Jennings Trophy-winning campaign.

The Jennings Trophy is given away to the goaltenders from the team that allows the fewest goals over the course of a season. This year, Jonathan Quick, Martin Jones, and Ben Scrivens will be the recipients of this award as the three goaltenders who appeared for the Los Angeles Kings in the season in which they allowed the fewest goals in the NHL.

One large reason for their success defensively was their ability to kill off their penalties, and that proficiency has carried through to the playoffs.

The Kings finished the regular season in the top half of the league, killing off 83.1% of their shorthanded scenarios, good enough for 11th out of 30 teams. That's also pretty good when you consider that through the 82 regular season games, the Kings were the third-most penalized team in the NHL, surrendering 296 power plays (Only Philadelphia and Ottawa surrendered more). By and large that is a pretty good success rate.

However that is also indicative of some rather poor discipline from the Kings, and both these trends continued well into the playoffs.

Through their first seven games, the Kings surrendered 32 power plays to the San Jose Sharks, the most of any team through the first round, and remains tied for the most in the league to this point with the Chicago Blackhawks, who have already played their first game of round two.

Likewise, the Los Angeles penalty kill has once again been nails in terms of helping the Kings advance. On those 32 attempts, the Kings allowed just four power play goals, giving them a fourth-best 87.5% kill rate to this point, and third-best amongst teams still playing to this point.

A large reason for this obviously comes from their goaltender Jonathan Quick, who was an absolute monster over the Kings' epic comeback.

The team in front of him is no slouch either. Their PK leader is obviously their world-class defensive leader Drew Doughty, who averaged 3:18 of kill time each game in their first round matchup. However the depth extends well beyond him in terms of defense as well. Robyn Regher led the Kings in shorthanded ice time with 3:29 per game, and Willie Mitchell was second on the team with 3:20. Slava Voynov often sees a good chunk of time as well, playing 3:11 per game shorthanded last series.

All three of these players specialize in excellent positioning, shot blocking, and efficiently clearing the puck out of the front of their net and out of their blue line to earn a quick line change.

As for the Los Angeles forwards, Selkie Trophy nominee Anze Kopitar is the Kings go-to penalty killer, leading all Kings forwards in shorthanded ice time. However, fellow "big gun" in terms of offensive talent Jeff Carter also is used rather frequently. This is a testament to how strong the Kings defense is in terms of their awareness and their ability to play a defensive game, making cracking the Kings wall around their goaltender so difficult.

Trevor Lewis, Jarret Stoll, and Mike Richards all also played over two minutes per game shorthanded last series to help shoulder the load.

The Ducks power play has thankfully been heating up somewhat as of late, and it's going to have to continue to be at its absolute best if they want to have even a remote chance of scoring on any of their extra-man chances. With one of the big keys to the Ducks being that they need to continue to be opportunistic and execute on the chances they are given, the necessity of being able to score on the power play cannot be overstated enough, meaning this matchup is of extreme importance in terms of how this series may turn out.

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