Week Seven Breakdown- L.A. Kings

Credit: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The Kings cruised through Week Seven with three wins in three games. In those three games, they outscored their opponents 13-3. They broke a franchise record for road wins to start the year with nine and a chance in Week Nine to tie and break the NHL record with 11 possible road victories. They now sit at a very pretty 13-3-3. The Kings of 2022-23, through the same number of games, were 11-7-1. While a six-point difference may not look imposing, their plus-minus differential, five-on-five play, and starting goaltender have been enormously imposing. Their plus-minus goal differential is a staggering +29 through Sunday. This trails only the Vancouver Canucks at +32, who put up a ten spot on the San Jose Sharks earlier in the year. Their expected goals against is a league-low 31.62 while also boasting the highest 5 on 5 goals for, at 51. They have dominated both ends of the ice and have received the goaltending no one expected that they would get.

Arizona, Anaheim, and Montreal. Each of these three teams had much to say regarding the LA Kings. The head coaches reiterate much of the same jargon regarding the Kings. “Suffocating, heavyweight, elite, that’s where we are trying to be.” Pleasant words are undoubtedly lovely when they aren’t facetious or overly flattering, yes, but they certainly are accurate and resonate with what this team is doing to start the year. Todd McLellan has this team working their system play to a tee. Their goaltending has overperformed any expectations whatsoever, and their third defensive pair has some of the best performing expected for analytics in the entire league. What about their special teams? Their powerplay is somewhat middle of the pack, mediocre.

The powerplay was something that hummed all last year and was weaponized to propel that team towards threatening a Pacific Division title much of the year and a successful playoff berth. However, who needs a top-five powerplay when your even-strength play is absurdly dominant, and your penalty kill leads the entire league? Quite the flip side of last year, indeed. The Kings have worked extensively on their special teams, and it shows. Elite five on five? Check. Elite penalty kill? Check. These are major qualities and traits that a true Stanley Cup contender needs. Checking the boxes thus far. What is the one thing to keep an eye on? PDO, or rather the stat for puck luck. Shooting percentage combined with save percentage. The Kings are second in the league in all situations PDO, which is a sign of possible regression. Other teams in the top five? Vancouver (leads the league), New York Rangers, Boston, and Vegas. That rounds off your top five teams in the league standings, by the way.

Copley is Back

Copley is back on track. Copley played two out of the three games, against Arizona, and Montreal. Copley allowed a combined one goal in the two games. Copley had undoubtedly a rough start to the year, with the disastrous Carolina loss, getting pulled against Arizona, and allowing two wraparound goals in the overtime loss to Pittsburg, which included the winning goal. Copley responded in a big way against Arizona and robbed some Coyotes of high-danger looks, some of which you saw Drew Doughty come over and give loud stick taps to Copley’s pads. He followed that up with a shutout over Montreal, his first of the year and third of his career. If Copley starts to retake the form he had last year, it only adds another element to this cultivated juggernaut. The biggest and only weakness heading into the season was goaltending. Well, Cam Talbot looks elite, and Copley is rounding into form. Yes, Greg Cronin, “they are a handful.”

Tonka

One of the hardest workers on the team is Grundstrom. We have seen him play in various lines over the past few seasons, including his second-line stint to replace Viktor Arvidsson during the 21-22 playoffs, in which he found magic with Trevor Moore and Phil Danault. The current injury to Blake Lizotte has seen the void on the penalty kill, rather, than the league’s top penalty kill, get filled in by Carl ‘Tonka’ Grundstrom. That’s a huge sign of respect and trust from Todd McLellan to Grundy. He’s getting rewarded and playing some minutes with Pierre Luc Dubois, a high-end center who recently found Carl for a slapshot goal ripper.

It’s nice to see him get rewarded and start to take the next step in his overall play; it’s a boon for the Kings to have prospects like Quinton Byfield take the next step in their development, but what about Carl? He’s only 25 years old, currently, the most prolific hitter on the roster, reliable, can play in all situations, and has a boomstick of a shot. He might just have the most unique skill set on the roster. He’s got seven goals in 19 games, pace that over 82 games, and you have a 30-goal scorer. Though he’s not likely to whiff that, it should be noted that you have a unique and exceptional player in your bottom six that the rest of the league wishes they had.

Up Next

Week Eight is a significant rest week for the Kings, who will likely tinker at practice and await the return of Blake Lizotte. They will host Washington on Wednesday and then Colorado on Sunday.

Do they go to Copley and then Talbot? Or Talbot in both games since the time between games is abundant. Copley deserves another start following a shutout. Only time will tell.

Required Reading

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

Week Six

Connor Doyle

US Navy Veteran and UCLA Class of 2024. Background in International Development Studies. Los Angeles born and raised. Following hockey for over a decade.

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