The Kings haven’t scored a power-play goal since defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 19. They finished that game by misfiring on three man-advantage chances and then followed it up by going ofer for the next eight games. Overall, they are on an 0-for-33 slide. They are 17 for 112 this season (15.2 percent), which ranked them 23rd in a 30-team league. So, what’s wrong?
For starters, the Kings appear to have fallen in love with a perimeter-based power play. In other words, they’re setting up and keeping the puck too far from the prime scoring areas. To be sure, the current game plan around the league is to move the puck to either point and fire shots on net, with traffic in front. A tipped shot or a rebound is far more likely to beat an opposing goalie, so the ploy makes tremendous sense in that regard.
What the Kings aren’t doing is getting their forwards to the front of the net. Lately, center Anze Kopitar spends too much time at the half-wall (that narrow spot between the faceoff circle and the boards) looking to make a play from their. The Kings are otherwise stationed well, with their defensemen at the points and one forward in front of the net. The trouble is, they need more traffic and more players near the net. You can’t have three forwards in front, but two works better than one.
The Kings simply don’t have enough bodies creating havoc in front of the goalie. So, when defenseman Drew Doughty fires the puck on goal from the point, there’s only one player screening the goalie or in position to chase a rebound. The other two forwards have taken themselves out of the play by standing on the perimeter. What’s more, the Kings can’t exploit their man-advantage by creating a two-on-one or three-on-two advantage down low. That’s how effective power plays click, by taking full advantage of the manpower advantage.
There’s no question that special teams play often runs hot and cold, but the Kings are doomed to stay frigid if they don’t get more of the so-called garbage goals created by deflections or by smacking home rebounds that goalies can’t cover. The Kings are renowned as a big, strong team that outmuscles opponents. They can and should do more of that while on the power play.