Los Angeles Kings’ Strength Down the Middle Fueling Playoff Success

Though “That 70s Line” has garnered much of the recognition for the Los Angeles Kings’ 3-1 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, the team has reached this stage on the strength of a quality that extends far beyond one forward unit.

It’s a familiar one, too, as it constituted the driving force behind L.A.’s Stanley Cup run in 2012—only now, it’s even better.

With unrivaled depth at center, the Kings control the middle of the ice like no other squad in the NHL, continually driving play toward the opposition’s net and forcing it to work that much harder to earn its scoring opportunities.

Thus far in the postseason, three of their four centers own a five-on-five Corsi percentage of 50 or higher, and all four top the 50 percent mark in five-on-five Fenwick percentage.

Granted, some games have been plagued by poor puck management, but when the team has thrived, it has done so with its centers impelling it forward in all three zones.

The opposition's inability to compete with L.A.'s four-headed monster down the middle has been exposed in every series to this point.

Here’s how each of the Kings’ pivots have tipped the scales in their team’s favor during the playoffs.


Anze Kopitar

Finally receiving the plaudits he deserves this season with a Selke Trophy nomination, Anze Kopitar has been a tremendous two-way force for the past half-decade.

Sure, he currently leads the league in postseason points with 22, but it’s his puck possession and even-strength defense that are truly elite.

His 53.1 five-on-five Corsi percentage is stellar, and he utilizes his size (6’3”, 225 lbs) and skill to dictate the flow of the game when he’s on the ice. Few can knock him off the puck in the corners, and he’s unparalle...

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