The L.A. Kings have done many things right this postseason, but perhaps nothing better than kill penalties.
Through seven games, the Kings have killed penalties at a 96.2 percent clip with more shorthanded goals for (four) than power play goals allowed (three).
The reason for this success is twofold. One is Jonathan Quick and his .939 save percentage while shorthanded.
Reason two? L.A. approaches the PK in a unique way — its top offensive players routinely kill penalties. Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Jarret Stoll all get a spin, something head coach Darryl Sutter sees as a real strength.
“It sounds like you have [PK] specialists, and you always do, but I think a lot of teams would prefer if their top guys could kill penalties,” he told LA Kings Insider. “Some guys are disciplined enough to do that, play both ways and be strong enough and have those assets, in your own zone, that they can kill.
“If your top offensive guys can do it, it makes a huge difference. Mike Richards is always a guy with a lot of shorthanded goals. Kopi and Brownie have obviously shown that in these playoffs. We use Carter some, and Jarret is a guy with good speed and good offensive instincts.”
L.A.’s ability to score shorthanded has proven to be a real momentum swinger. In Game 2 against Vancouver, Brown’s second period SHG deflated a Canucks team on the verge of breaking out (Jannik Hansen scored 17 seconds into the period and the Canucks out-shot L.A. 15-6.)
Then, in Game 1 against St. Louis, Matt Greene’s shortie ended up being the game-winning goal.
Sutter recognizes his team’s aggression on the PK can dictate how the opponent plays.
“It does impact how they play on the power play,” he said, “when you know [penalty killers] are going for it.’’