Through the first couple of months of the season, we’ve seen the Los Angeles Kings showcase superb goaltending, sound defense (most of the time), an exceptional physical game and despite a few spurts here and there, a relative anemic offense. We’ve been frustrated at times with the special teams department but pleased other times. After a weak goal allowed by Jonathan Quick during Los Angeles’s home-opener, pundits said the Kings were, for lack of a better term, screwed in goal. Yet, they said the same thing when No. 32 got injured last month. But while I’ve thrown in terms like the “frustrating”, “anemic” and “solid” to describe the play of the Los Angeles Kings thus far, there is one term I used more often than not – and for very good reason: resilient.
When the Kings get scored on first in a game, it feels like an uphill battle. But it’s certainly not as daunting as it sounds.
Through the first 29 games of the season, the Kings have allowed the first goal 11 games. That certainly is a testament to Los Angeles’s ability to get off to a fast start but at the same time, it certainly says something about the team’s 18-7-4 record through the first 29 games.
In the category of winning-percentage when trailing first, the Los Angeles Kings sit third in the entire NHL with .462, significantly ahead of the league average of .290. While boasting the third-best percentage in said category is great, I feel obligation to point out that the two teams who currently have bigger winning percentages when trailing first are the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks respectively. Of course, like them or not, like the Kings, both Sharks and Ducks are among the best teams in the National Hockey League right now.
In both the short- and long-term pictures, the Los Angeles Kings have a lot going for them. As I’ve already mentioned, the goaltending – whether it’s Quick, Ben Scrivens or even Martin Jones – is good and well in Los Angeles, a defensive core that includes the blue-collar types of Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene to those who add an offensive punch to their game like Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov, is certainly the envy of those rebuilding teams aspiring to contend for a championship in the near future and the sheer physicality brought by the Kings is enough strike fear in much of their opposition. But again, resilience plays a central role in the Kings’ success and it certainly showcases of the character of a team who have been waited on by so many hockey pundits to fail.
Jeff Carter’s injured: oh no; Jarret Stoll’s sidelined: uh-oh; Kyle Clifford gets a concussion: here comes trouble; Trevor Lewis is down; there goes the great penalty-killing; Jonathan Quick put on the shelf: kiss the season goodbye.
Like the antagonist in a tacky, feel-good B-movie, the Los Angeles Kings tell their doubters that if they’re waiting for them to fail, they’re going to get impatient waiting – but that’s just what the Kings are doing. Not only are they winning but the Los Angeles Kings are coming from behind multiple times a night and, at times, doing so without key players.
In the risk of sounding Hallmark-y (I created a new word; deal with it), resiliency is what truly measures a team when the going gets tough, when those on the outside say they can’t do it, maybe suggesting for instance that 2012 was just a lucky break. But whatever cynicism has come the Kings’ way has been pushed aside for better, more substantial reasons.
The Los Angeles Kings continue to prove that they are among the NHL’s elite and they’ve done so by being, that’s right, resilient. It certainly hasn’t been any easy road to success but who in their right mind would suggest that anything worth having comes easy? Not me, not you and certainly not the Los Angeles Kings.