If there was anything that can sum pu Los Angeles’ frustrating season, it was their lack of offense. In fact, for much of the regular season, the Kings were last overall in offense. Overall, they finished 29th overall, scoring 188 goals, just 22 more than the 30th-place Minnesota Wild.
With their goals-per-game average at a dismal 2.29, the Los Angeles Kings were lucky to find the back of the net in 2011-12. In the process, had their fans had a dollar for every time they reach their wit’s end with their team, the entire Kings’ fanbase would be sitting pretty for years to come. Yet, despite the lack of goal-scoring, the Kings hung on and were able to stay competitive for the entire regular season.
While the solid play of the defense keep the Kings with their heads above water, it was Los Angeles’ outstanding goaltender that carried this team so far. While many of the Kings had their moments, Jonathan Quick was the clear-cut MVP for his team all season long and, for his efforts, was awarded not only his first-career All-Star selection but the first Vezina nomination of his young career.
By the time the regular season was wrapping up, experts began talking about the playoffs and throwing in their predictions. The Los Angeles Kings weren’t on anyone’s radar to get past the first round much less winning it all.
With Anze Kopitar leading his team with just 25 goals and only six Kings reaching double-digits in tallies, few believed Los Angeles would snap out of their goalless funk. They were wrong. To the astonishment of essentially everyone, the Kings entered the playoffs as if the regular season never happened.
In 20 games, Los Angeles totaled 57 goals. Only the New Jersey Devils scored more goals (59) in the post-season and, in all fairness, they played four more games than the Kings did. Los Angeles not only elevated their goals-per-game average to 2.85 but it they were getting offensive support from everyone. In fact, for all the Kings who played more than four games in the playoffs this spring, only Rob Scuderi failed to light the lamp. Of course, being that Scuds is strictly a defensive player, it’s easy to forgive him for not scoring.
Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter all led the way as they tied for the team-lead in goals with eight. Dwight King scored five, three others tied with four apiece and two others each had a pair. If that weren’t enough, the Kings even found their groove while shorthanded as they scored five times while down a man. While the five tied New Jersey for most shorthanded tallies in the playoffs, I have to give the edge to Los Angeles as they, as I’d already mentioned, played in four fewer games than the Devils.
In hockey, there’s an age-old cliché that once the playoffs start, the regular season means nothing. That sentiment couldn’t be any more accurate when it applies to the 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings. While they struggled through the 82 games being consistently bailed out by their superb goaltending, the Kings caught their naysayers and their opponents napping when they abruptly decided to turn up the offensive juices – and the rest, as they say, was history.
Here’s hoping for a better offensive output for the 2012-13 regular season. However, if that’s not the case, the opposition should be smart enough to take notice once April rolls around. But if they aren’t, then we can always look forward to a repeat.
One step at a time, though.
Photo: Courtesy of Alex Gallardo/Reuters