Wednesday, May 02, 2012

L.A. Kings Dominating Their NHL Playoff Series

The big surprise of the National Hockey League playoffs thus far is the largely dominant play of the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings qualified for the playoffs as the eighth (and final) seed in the Western Conference, but easily dispatched No. 1 seed Vancouver in the first round, four games to one, and are currently leading No. 2 seed St. Louis two games to none in the second round. Other than during a possible letdown after winning the first three games against the Canucks, the Kings have hardly been challenged.

I created the chart below to illustrate how many minutes, cumulatively, the Kings (in purple) and their opponents (in light blue) have held the lead in the two series (you may click on the graphic to enlarge it). Links to box scores of all the Kings' games are available here. To walk through an example, in Game 1 vs. Vancouver, the Canucks scored first 4 minutes and 17 seconds into the contest, thus coloring the chart blue. The Kings then scored 13:31 into the game, tying things up and returning the tracker to white. L.A. scored the next goal, 16:33 into the second period, bringing purple coloration. And so forth.

As circled in red, Vancouver led for only 9 minutes and 14 seconds total in the first three games (180 minutes) of the Kings-Canucks series. Now, two games into the Kings-Blues series -- both played at the home of the Gateway Arch   -- St. Louis has led during only 7:42 of the 120 minutes played.

The Kings and Blues resume their series tomorrow night in Los Angeles. Fortunes can change in a hurry in hockey, especially with the seemingly random bounces of the puck. For now, though, the Kings seem to have the right formula.

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