By the law of small sample sizes,* only old head coaches can succeed with new teams this season.
The Los Angeles Kings topped the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 via a shootout today to win Darryl Sutter’s debut. Fellow veteran bench boss Ken Hitchock was the only other replacement coach to win his first game, putting the old dogs at 2-0. Contrast that with the goose eggs from first-timers Kirk Muller and Randy Cunneyworth alongside second-time coach Bruce Boudreau and you might have an obnoxious pseudo-trend on your hands.
The Kings didn’t look like an offensive juggernaut in their first game under Sutter, but that’s not what GM Dean Lombardi was expecting with the coaching change.
Lombardi wanted to see more effort from the Kings and more production from should-be star Drew Doughty, and there were promising signs in both areas. Doughty earned assists on both of the Kings’ goals while Los Angeles out-shot Anaheim in every period aside from a 2-1 OT difference. (The Kings generated a 34-22 shot advantage.)
In other good news, Mike Richards scored in his first game back from a concussion.
One December game only means so much – and it was against the lowly Ducks – but it never hurts to get off to a good start. The Kings might not ever be the sexy, dominant team many of us were hoping to see in 2011-12, but this squad could grind their way to a deep run if they play more games like Sutter’s debut.
* Note: I’m fairly certain there isn’t a theory of small sample sizes, let alone a law.