The Los Angeles Kings may have started the 2015-2016 season with three consecutive losses, but they’ve been able to turn the ship around and have been blowing through a seven game winning streak on their way to the top of the Pacific Division.
Los Angeles may well pick up their eighth straight win tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks and momentum could sweep them through several more victories. With the Blackhawks looking to avoid losing their third straight, the Kings could take advantage.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence,” defenceman Drew Doughty said. “Obviously, we can’t let it get too far up into our heads, because when we’re playing confident like this and at the same time still trying to do all the right things, we’re winning games, and we need to continue winning.”
Tyler Toffoli is a big reason for the Kings’ success thus far. He’s tallied nine goals in 10 games, with three of those markers coming on the power play. Two of his goals were game-winners and he’s playing to an efficient 34.6 shooting percentage. In his last game on October 31, Toffoli had two goals against the Nashville Predators and stacked up 19:27 of ice time over 23 shifts.
Jeff Carter also has 10 points in 10 games, including four goals. He had a four-point game on October 22 against the San Jose Sharks, scoring twice with four shots on goal.
And goalie Jonathan Quick has been on fire, with a save percentage of .925 and a goals against average of 2.09. He’s posted a shutout against the Carolina Hurricanes, turning aside 40 shots. While the Predators scored three goals on him on October 31, he’s been sturdy throughout the last six games and hasn’t allowed many even strength goals.
There’s also the matter of Anze Kopitar, who has three goals in 10 games and is locked in contract talks. The Kings say that the contract is “too close to not get it done” and that’s good news for the team’s top centre. He’s in the seventh and final year of his current $47.6 million deal and should see a significant upgrade in term, with a long-term extension capping out at eight years.
There are other variables behind the Kings’ success too, like their play in overtime. They’ve pulled off two wins in the three-on-three during their win streak, which may seem to mark a reversal of fortune for a team that’s been historically awful in the extra frame.
And those into advanced statistics will find the Kings near the top of the heap in the Corsi and Fenwick categories, which chart possession and determine the efficacy of said possession.
The Kings have turned things around after a wobbly start and seem to be hitting their stride, playing a strong team game with Quick and Toffoli firing on all cylinders. Once they put the Kopitar contract situation to bed, they should have even more pieces locked in for years of great Los Angeles hockey. That’s good news for fans and bad news for everyone else in the tough Western Conference.