Los Angeles Kings Masking Porous Defense with Potent Offense

Over the past few games, Los Angeles’ defense hasn’t been as stout as the numbers suggest. Sloppy coverage, an inept breakout and missing players have conspired to throw a wrench in the Kings’ typically stingy brand of hockey.

In a strange turn, however, Darryl Sutter’s tight-checking squad has stayed afloat with a surge of quick-strike offense.

It’s scored 14 goals in the past four outings (3.5 goals per game) and amassed six of a possible eight points in that span. According to Hockey-Reference.com, L.A. had only scored 28 times (2.33 GPG) in the previous 12 contests.

Through a mix of good fortune and long-overdue lineup decisions, the Kings have found a way to outscore their serious defensive problems.


Kopitar-Gaborik Chemistry Rekindled

Marian Gaborik didn’t look right at the start of the campaign. He sure does now.

After recovering from his latest injury, the sniper has registered three points and a plus-three rating in his last two games. He’s skating more fluidly and appearing more creative on attack.

This is of particular benefit to two-way stalwart Anze Kopitar, who had been weighed down by ill-fitting wingers earlier in the season. Just like it did following the 2013-14 trade deadline, the presence of a fleet-footed—and healthy—shooter has unlocked the big man’s offense:

The hulking Slovenian is visibly more confident with Gaborik flying to his left. He enters the dirty areas more frequently and plays at a quicker tempo, tilting the ice so heavily in L.A.’s favor that opponents can barely keep their footing.

The top line has found its groove, thriving in the puck-possession game and generating numerous chances per game.

When Gaborik and Kopitar play together for an extended stretch, their rapport becomes evident. The...

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