by PuckStopsHere on 10/27/08 at 04:31 PM ET
It is still very early in the NHL season. Some results of teams and players which are surprising at this point are not likely to last all season long. The statistic that surprises me the most at this point which has the least chance of lasting the season is the Los Angeles kings leading the NHL in shots against. The Kings have allowed only 24.3 shots per game. This is a small lead over the San Jose Sharks.
The Kings solid defence so far this season is surprise because the 32.0 shots per game they allowed was third worst in the NHL. That team subtracted both Lubomir Visnovsky and Rob Blake in the off season without adding any significant veterans. If they have improved, how have they improved?
It isn’t likely that Los Angeles has improved their defence by any significant margin. It is most likely that they are nowhere near as good as their early start would indicate.
Their top players in terms of total ice time are 18 year old rookie Drew Doughty and former Anaheim spare part Sean O’Donnell. You cannot have a top defence when players like that leading your ice time. That is strong evidence that this is a bit of a fluke.
Probably the biggest reason for defensive improvement is a better coaching system under Terry Murray than under Marc Crawford (who coached the team last year). He has the team checking better.
As a result of the solid defensive play by Los Angeles so far, the Kings have not been a bad team. They haven’t been particularly good either, but they have been tough to play against. They have won three of their seven games so far. They have scored more goals than they have scored (22 to 19).
I expect by the time the season is over, nobody will be claiming Los Angeles has a good defence, but so far this season their team has played some surprisingly good d.
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