Monday, November 10, 2008
Monday stats pack: Kings' numbers (not Wings) impressing me
You just never know what you're going to find when you take a few minutes to look through the league's massive stats package. Here are three things that kind of surprised me (the numbers didn't include Sunday's games):
• The Kings are allowing the fewest shots per game. Let me repeat that: The Kings are allowing the fewest shots per game. So far, through 13 games, the Kings have kept opponents to an average of just 24.2 shots. By contrast, last season, they surrendered the third most shots (32.0). I know it's early, but that's a significant turnaround. New coach Terry Murray and his staff seem to be connecting with their young group.
Los Angeles is better in two other important areas. The Kings have pushed the goals-against down to a very respectable 2.69 per game (14th in the league). Last season, they allowed 3.21 goals per game (28th). Also, the club's penalty kill is much better, ranking sixth with an 87.9 success rate. Their penalty killers were the worst in the league (78.0) in 2007-08. The Kings still have a long way to go, but under Murray, they seem to be making some progress.
• The Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks haven't been as stingy in the early going. Last season, the Western rivals (and the last two Cup winners) finished 1-2 in goals against. The Wings surrendered just 2.18 goals, while the Ducks allowed 2.24 per game. This season, however, both teams find themselves in the bottom half in that vital category. Through Saturday's games, Detroit ranked 19th (3.08) and Anaheim 20th (3.12). I'm pretty sure coaches Mike Babcock and Randy Carlyle aren't thrilled with those numbers.
• Tim Thomas' .944 save percentage is crazy good. The 34-year-old Michigan native with the battling style (that's a kind way of saying he doesn't really seem to have a style, which is fine when you're stopping the puck, right?) just seems to get better every year. Now, I figure that number has to come down a bit. Then again, I never thought it would be that good in the first place. If he can stay in one piece between now and next winter, Thomas just might find himself among the American goalies at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.