In their recent slide where they lost six of their last seven games, the Los Angeles not only averaged 35.4 shots per game but they outshot their opponents at average of just over nine shots per game, recording 40 or more shots in three of those games while registering 39 in another. Just looking at these numbers would scream production. Unfortunately, quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality and while the Kings have had plenty of the former, they’ve had very little of the latter.
What’s ironic is that the last time the Kings had a most productive game which resulted in a win, they were outshot 42-26 by the Florida Panthers back on December 1. That alone should tell you essentially that any team can have a hundred shots on net on any given night but, unless some of those shots translate to goals, no one cares about the shots.
What’s been most misleading about Los Angeles’ shot totals lo these last couple of weeks as that when I watch the games and then look at the numbers, I’m amazed. On December 8, for instance, it was the Kings who outshot the visiting Wild 44-24, yet it was Minnesota who outplayed the home team that night, winning 4-2. The Kings, like most night lately, looked lethargic and sluggish on the ice. So, in the world do they manage so many shots? Better yet, how do they manage to consistently outshoot the opposition?
Most believe (and that includes yours truly) that teams just need to get shots on net, even if they’re not pretty or past the faceoff circle. The philosophy is to get a shot and either get a lucky bounce or jump on an opportune rebound. The Kings are certainly following that philosophy but they haven’t had anything to show for it. They don’t make their shots counts and that’s just one of the many frustrating storylines that is the 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings.
Would I rather see the Kings badly outshot like they were against Florida earlier this month if it means more goals and more wins? The former doesn’t actually apply since, like all of their games this month, Los Angeles failed to score more than two goals against the Panthers. But to answer the question: yes, most definitely.
Tonight’s performance aside, I have faith in Jonathan Quick to stand tall in the Kings’ net, although I wouldn’t want him to have to stop 40 shots every game. The Kings need a new approach. Something I haven’t been seeing a lot of is that playing screening the opposing goaltender while point shots are being taken. The way things are right now simply will not do.
The fact that the Kings can generate so many shots on a nightly basis is great. Or is it? Not if it means two goals or less every game. Whether it’s a new year’s resolution or a chance to turn a new leaf with a new coach, I want to see the Los Angeles Kings make the most of their shots. I want to see them not only challenge the opposing goaltenders but the opposing defenseman as well. I would love nothing more than to look at a large shot total and not be surprised because I know this team is making every one of those shots count. Of course, at this point, as sceptical as it sounds, that notion is nothing more than a pipe dream.
The Los Angeles Kings can certainly outshoot their opposition. However, there’s a fine line between outshooting your opposition and outplaying them and, to put it simply, doing the latter is what it’s going to take to win hockey games and, sadly, the Kings just aren’t doing that.
Photo: Courtesy of Jae C. Hong/Associated Press