It’s been almost a month since the Los Angeles Kings surrendered a six-goal in the third period in Buffalo, as a 0-0 game quickly turned into a 6-0 rout. The team has repeatedly signaled this point in the season where things began to change, as the Kings came from two goals down to beat the NHL-leading Boston Bruins next time around and got away from there.
Since that game in Western New York, the Kings have posted a record of 10-3-1 in their next 14 games, good for a winning percentage of . 750 that trails only the Bruins. They generally committed themselves to playing a certain style of hockey and a lot of that coincided with doing things that the player doesn’t necessarily enjoy, but things that help win hockey games.
Perhaps the easiest area to spot that statistic comes from is the blocked shots.
From the Boston game onwards, the Kings averaged 17.9 blocked shots per/60 on all power points, the highest total in the NHL in that period. The Kings had been one of the leaders in the NHL up to that point, ranking eighth in the league, but had averaged over two more shots per game in that span, part of a commitment to a certain approach to winning hockey games.
“For teams to succeed and win, you have to do some things that you really don’t want to do, and blocking shots is one of those things,” said Todd McClellan. “The more committed the group is to doing things that they probably don’t want to do, on a regular basis, nobody wants to do that, but you have to do those things to win.”
A big focus for McClellan and his staff is the acknowledgment aspect of these things.
As he was quick to admit, it’s far from the most engaging part of playing the game. A shot blocked by your foot doesn’t show up on too many shader reels or too many stat totals… though it might show up on your foot the next day. It does help make the winning column, though, as the Kings have watched and shown firsthand with six one-goal wins from their last 14 games played, the second-highest total in the league in that span.
When players do these things the right way, the staff is sure to notice and express their appreciation for it. After all, if coaches tell players to do something, they’d better acknowledge it when they do.
“We have to be the first to recognize it,” said McClellan, “because we’re asking them to do it.” “When all the guys are up and jumping in, because Gabe Velarde just jumped in front of the shot the other day, we also let the emotion out there, they need to know we relate to it, especially since we’re asking it. In the post-event review, when we notice them doing it that way And good things happen, we make sure they see that.”
Now, saying it is one thing, but doing it is another.
The coach can say something all day, but the players are the ones who really stand on the ice and do the execution. Whether it’s Sean Dorsey, who leads the Kings with 32 blocked shots over a 14-game span, or, as Jarrett Anderson-Dolan says, who had a big win in the last 30 seconds of a win over San Jose, everyone is obliging and everyone is getting involved. It’s not just blocked shots either. Forward Alex Ivalo could have hit the ground running to stint in Vegas or even Philippe Danaault standing in for Edmonton. They all pile on and it’s been prevalent around this group over their successful victories.
“I think we’ve got a lot of high-profile characters, it’s something we always have,” said defender Micky Anderson. “Over the last few games, we’ve played some really good teams and we’ve documented that we need to do it a certain way and we’ve proven that it works. Generally, you see a guy who makes a punch to make a play, block a big shot, get the whole bench up and create energy. All in all, it brings us together. together and it’s something we have to keep doing to be successful.”
As Anderson notes, the team is quick to show the player what his sacrifice means to the group.
After a play of this nature, you will often see the entire bench standing up, kicking or tapping the boards in the backing. Maybe it doesn’t make your foot or leg feel better, but it shows that the 19 guys you play for appreciate what you do and that when they’re in the same position after two shifts, they’ll go try to do the same.
“He’s huge, that’s very important and maybe a little understated,” striker Kevin Fiala said. “Stopping shots, battling and sacrificing the body for the team to win the game, it’s huge for us. We always get pumped for the guy who did it, let him know he did a great job and when you’re there, you’ll try and do the same, do whatever it takes to win.” match.”
Perhaps the best part of it is the infectious element.
That word, used by Anderson Dolan, was infectious. When one man does it, it becomes contagious throughout the entire group. Starting at the top, too—Philippe Danault and Anze Kopitar have been first and second on the team in blocks among forwards since Buffalo. Hearing from Blake Lizotte forward, he believes blocked shots are the product of an overall commitment to order and structure. When you stick this way, good things happen.
“I think there is a lot of support from the guys right now,” he said. “Over the last 10 to 15 games guys have started to have a belief system that actually works and a willingness to do things like cross shots and stick to defending against attacking sometimes. It’s been there and it’s starting to grow for our group, with more players willing to do things they don’t want to do. “.
The results of the commitment were five wins over teams currently in the playoff positions, with the assurance that when the Kings play a certain way, and stick to that approach, they can play with anyone in the NHL.
The Kings do these things at the moment as much as any team in the NHL and it shows up in the standings.
“There are good teams that never go anywhere because they don’t get everyone willing to do the things they don’t want to do and sometimes mediocre teams get a little ahead because they get players to do things they don’t,” said McClellan. “It could be giving up ice time, or it could be shot blocking, scrapping, taking care of a teammate, sacrificing offense to check at certain times, running the game. All those things you throw in the bucket and take for granted… ..[doing those things] It can at least point you in the right direction.”
The Kings essentially have a seven-game trip coming up to close out the pre-All-Star break schedule, and the first stop is Los Angeles. Starting Thursday against Dallas, the Kings will play seven games in seven cities over 13 days, including a pair of straight games. On the flip side, there will be less than 30 games left on the regular season slate, so we’ll have a good idea of what’s going to be required from the stretch when we get to the break on February 1. Sticking to this style of hockey will go a long way towards being where they need to be at that point.
Back on the ice tomorrow, Insiders, as they’ll practice for the Kings on Tuesday and Wednesday before the Dallas game. Full coverage to follow both shoes!