It shouldn't come as a surprise to fans of the Los Angeles Kings that their team sits ninth in the Western Conference. It's becoming a trend. The Kings struggle in the regular season at times but make the playoffs, and from there they dominate.
This season seems like it will be no different.
The Kings are on a bit of a hot streak as of late, winning five of their past seven games. They are without Jeff Carter, who remains on injured reserve with a foot injury, but captain Dustin Brown has stepped up after getting off to a slow start to the 2013-14 season.
With that in mind, there are a number of good teams and individual player stats out of L.A.
Here are the Kings' five most impressive stats thus far this season.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
The Kings' power play has been solid this season and was operating at 21.5 percent (ranked eighth) before failing to score on five chances against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
Why is that so impressive? Because in the past couple of seasons, the Kings have failed to top the 20 percent mark and have had major problems generating chances on the man advantage in the playoffs.
Seven different Kings have registered a power-play goal this season, with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams leading the way with three each.
If they can continue to have success on the man advantage, it could make a big difference down the stretch as they fight for playoff positioning. Not to mention the impact it could have in the postseason, where it has been the only major fault during L.A.'s last two playoff runs.
The Kings are one of the NHL's best teams after 60 minutes. Their first loss in extra time came Tuesday against the Sabres. The Kings are now 6-1 in games tied after regulation, winning two in overtime and going 4-1 in shootouts.
Three players are directly responsible for those six L.A. victories. Jeff Carter is 2-of-4 in the shootout and has an overtime winner. Anze Kopitar is 2-of-3 in the shootout and has the Kings' other overtime winner, while Mike Richards is 1-of-3 in the shootout.
It goes without saying that Jonathan Quick has provided near-perfect goaltending after 60 minutes.
All of that said, the Kings need to start winning more in regulation, especially against Western Conference opponents, if they hope to earn a decent playoff seed.
The Kings have generated a league-low 70 takeaways this season. To put that in perspective, the Carolina Hurricanes are first with 192, while the 29th-ranked Pittsburgh Penguins still have a big edge on the Kings, with 83 takeaways.
On paper, this looks bad, especially when you consider the Kings have the fifth-most giveaways. But, perhaps this indicates something positive, that the Kings possess the puck the majority of the time.
The Kings have a number of dynamic, two-way forwards and a mix of skilled and shutdown defensemen, which Darryl Sutter uses to his advantage. They play smart with the puck to generate a ton of shots, and without it, they play sound team defense.
L.A. has been on the bad end of the NHL's takeaway and giveaway rankings for a couple of years, just as they have been in blocked shots. Those stats, combined with their shots for and against, suggest they are a dominant puck-possession team.
Dustin Brown's slow start to the 2013-14 season was well documented. The L.A. captain was still dealing with knee and hamstring problems entering the year, which was likely at least part of the reason for his struggles early on.
While he still isn't lighting the lamp as frequently as he's capable of, Brown is now starting to play like the pesky power forward Kings fans have come to love.
Most importantly, he's hitting again. Brown now sits 11th in the league with 55 hits and should continue to climb that list in the coming weeks. More than half (30) of his hits have come in his past six games.
With Brown clearly healthy and playing with a physical edge, the Kings should benefit. His hitting will take a toll on the opposition and make the Kings' forecheck more effective. It will also serve as motivation for his teammates, as the captain leads by example.
Having won 55.2 percent of their draws, the Kings are tied with the Nashville Predators for the best faceoff percentage in the NHL.
Since trading for Mike Richards, the Kings have been among the league's deepest teams at center. Anze Kopitar centers the top line and has won 54.4 percent of his draws. Unlikely as it may seem, that's the worst percentage among L.A. players who have taken at least 100 draws this season.
Richards has won 57.0 percent, while longtime third-line center Jarret Stoll has been successful on 55.7 percent of his draws. Jeff Carter has won a remarkable 62.1 percent of the faceoffs he's taken.
This gives the Kings an edge in key game situations, particularly on shorthanded defensive-zone faceoffs and late in close games.