5 defining numbers in the LA Kings playoff series with Oilers
The LA Kings saw their season come to an end on Saturday night, falling 4-3 in their series with the Edmonton Oilers. It marked the first postseason appearance for Los Angeles since the 2017-18 season.
“I’m very proud of the group we have and the character and strength, mentally, that we gained this year. I think the experience we got this year is gonna bring us a long way for the next few years. Obviously, a bad ending, but I think we gave it all, but I’m very proud of the group we have.”
That was Phillip Danault following Game 7.
The Kings were the underdogs coming into this series. With an influx of youth getting their first taste of postseason experience, seeing what it takes to collect four wins in a series will be invaluable for this group going forward.
Before putting a bow on this series, let’s look back at five defining numbers.
Special teams were one of the major storylines coming into the series with the Oilers. The LA Kings finished with the sixth-worst power-play percentage (16.1%) during the regular season. Edmonton owned the third-best (26.0%).
Obviously, anything that the Kings could get on the man advantage would be a huge plus in the momentum. Unfortunately, the power-play woes stuck out like a sore thumb as the series developed.
Los Angeles went 0-for-8 in the first two games before Phillip Danault’s power-play goal in Game 3 snapped the streak. The former Montreal Canadien had two of the three power-play goals in the series, with Sean Durzi‘s goal in Game 6 rounding out the total.
As a team, the Kings converted on just 3-of-24 (12.5%) power-play chances.
Sean Durzi trims the Los Angeles deficit to 1 with a cannon of a power play one-timer from the high slot!#LetsGoOilers 2 – 1 #GKG
(Game 6, LA Leads 3-2) pic.twitter.com/mBtUKaIX0y
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) May 13, 2022
Conversely, the Kings’ penalty kill ranked 22nd (76.7%) during the regular season; Edmonton’s ranked 17th (79.4%).
Essentially, the series boiled down to whether the Kings’ penalty kill could stop the Oilers’ power-play.
Through the first three games of the series, Edmonton converted on 5-of-11 opportunities before the Kings killed off all three penalties in Game 4.
The Oilers converted on 2-of-3 in LA’s Game 5 overtime win, and the Kings killed off each penalty in the final two games. Overall, Todd McLellan’s group killed off just 12-of-17 (70.6%) penalties.
Connor McDavid is looking to become just the third player in NHL history to win three Hart Trophies before the age of 26. He finished the regular season with 44 goals and 79 assists, pacing all NHL skaters with 123 points.
If the Kings’ 5-1 regular-season win in Edmonton were any indication, keeping McDavid (and Leon Draisaitl) off the scoresheet would be critical.
Unfortunately, the Kings only kept the 25-year-old off the scoresheet just once in the series (Game 4). McDavid added the Kings to his highlight reel, skating through five defenders in Game 1 and beating Jonathan Quick.
He tallied four goals and ten assists for 14 points in the seven-game series, including two three-point games in Games 5 and 6.
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It became evident that the Kings missed Viktor Arvidsson and Drew Doughty‘s presence in the lineup. Los Angeles was outscored 17-27 and outmuscled for the majority of the series.
Arvidsson has three game-winning goals in the postseason under his belt. The Kings needed more offense against the Oilers, especially in Game 7 when they were shutout for the second time in the series.
“We liked where we were at, but we wanted to create more offense. We didn’t generate enough, I don’t think,” Danault said on Saturday.
Likewise, Doughty’s season-ending wrist injury ended all speculation that he would return for the postseason. The Kings’ defensive corps missed the former Norris Trophy along the blueline, allowing a combined 14 goals between Games 2 and 3.
I found myself fixated on Dustin Brown whenever he was on the ice in this series. The former LA Kings captain announced his retirement before the end of the regular season.
Brown was a big-time producer during the Kings’ two Stanley Cup runs in 2012 and 2014. However, he had just two assists in the seven-game series.
With Jeff Carter moving on last year and now Brown this year, Los Angeles will have just three members left from those championship runs in Anze Kopitar, Quick, and Doughty. The Kings are losing a big leadership presence in the locker room.
They will need one of their secondary core players to step up in that capacity next year.
“I’m going to miss him a lot,” a visibly emotional Kopitar said on Saturday evening.
— dustin brown (@DustinBrown23) May 15, 2022