While their Goals For numbers were essentially a laughing stock overall, the Goals Against category for the Los Angeles Kings was just the opposite. In Goals For for the 2011-12 regular season, the Kings looked up at 28 teams, finishing second-last overall. In Goals Against, 28 teams were looking up at the Kings, who finished the season 2nd-overall in said category. It was just the balance Los Angeles needed.
This past regular season, the Kings allowed a paltry 2.07 goals per game. Only St. Louis’ 1.89 was better. Overall, Los Angeles allowed 170 goals against all season, just 15 more than the Blues. Like their average per game and total goals against, Los Angeles’ 121 goals against while 5-on-5 was second overall to the Blues. It’s also worth noting that while 5-on-4, the Kings allowed just two goals all season, which tied them with the Rangers. Only Boston and Anaheim, who each surrendered one goal, gave up fewer tallies on the advantage.
At this point, I sound like a broken record but a majority of the credit must go to Jonathan Quick who kept his team competitive on a nightly basis. When there were no goals for the Kings, it was no problem for Quick who finished the regular season with a goals-against average under 2.00 as well as a league-leading 10 shutouts.
As great as Quick was, though, he did get quite a bit of relief from his defensemen, particular Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell, the two consummate defensive blueliners who regularly sacrificed their bodies to block the crucial shot and jump on the puck and quickly move it out of harm’s way. Credit goes to the other defensemen as well but Scuderi and Mitchell really stood above the fray this past season.
While Los Angeles’ 30 goals against in the playoffs tied them for 10th among the 16 playoff teams, it’s unfair to use that stat given that the Kings played over twice as many games as most of the clubs. Their average goals against per game is much more accurate and there, the Kings lead the way with a dwarf 1.50. On paper, the 30 goals against doesn’t seem like much matched up against the other teams but when you surrender that many goals over the span of 20 games, chances are that you’re doing something right – and, in this case, the Los Angeles Kings were doing plenty right.
Of those 30 tallies given up, 23 of them were on the 5-on-5. The Kings gave up six of their goals while down a man and the other one was an empty-netter. During the regular season, Los Angeles was tied with Chicago for the fewest empty-netters allowed with two. While it is primarily a basketball term, the Kings always know that they count on their sixth man to get the job done.
Note that the Kings did not allow a single shorthanded goal during the post-season. It may not be the most crucial stat but given how shoddy their power play was, it is comforting to know that the Kings were on top of their game on the opposite end of the ice while on the advantage.
Overall, the Goals Against category make the Los Angeles Kings look like a formidable defensive powerhouse and while it took a few years to build the Kings this way, GM Dean Lombardi and company must be the proudest front-office in hockey and deservedly so. It makes you that much more eager for the coming season.
Can October not come any faster?
Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Conard/Reuters