Five team stats about the Stanley Cup-winning Kings

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23.5% — The Kings’ power-play percentage in the postseason, ending a string of three consecutive Cup winners who struggled with the man advantage. (Chicago converted at just 11.4 percent last year; Los Angeles was at 12.8 percent the year before; and Boston was at 11.4 percent they year before that.) The 2014 Kings were particularly dangerous with the man advantage against Chicago in the Western Conference Final, when they went 6-for-19 against the ‘Hawks.

3.38 — Goals per game for the Kings, the most of any team in the playoffs. San Jose finished second, at 3.14; Chicago third, at 3.05. Which is notable, given the Kings, the NHL’s best defensive team during the regular season, played both those teams, allowing a good number of goals to the Sharks (22) and ‘Hawks (23) in their respective seven-game series.

83.3% — The Kings’ penalty kill in the 2014 postseason was decent, but not as effective as it was in 2012 (92.1%). They shut down the Rangers’ PP though, allowing just two goals on 22 New York tries.

1.29 — The Kings’ five-on-five scoring ratio. The highest of any playoff team this year, but lower than the 1.52 mark they put up in 2012, when, as previously noted, they didn’t have the power play going. L.A.’s five-on-five scoring ratio was the lowest for a champion since Chicago’s 1.22 mark in 2010.

In fact, the postseason team stats of the 2014 Kings and 2010 ‘Hawks were remarkably similar:

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+14 — The Kings’ third-period goal differential in the postseason. Scored 30, only allowed 16, making it by far their best period. In a related story, L.A. won four games — a quarter of its 16 postseason victories — that it trailed after two periods, including two against the Rangers. The last team to win four playoff games that it trailed after two was the 1999 Dallas Stars.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.