What’s the Secret to the Kings’ Sudden Scoring Success in 2014 NHL Playoffs?

Of the 16 teams to qualify for the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, none were more offensively inept in the regular season than the Los Angeles Kings. L.A. averaged 2.42 goals per game over the course of the year, good for 26th in the NHL and one spot back of the incessantly ineffectual Edmonton Oilers.

So to have Los Angeles—a team that has scored 15 goals in its last three games—lead the NHL postseason with 3.39 goals per game is a major shock.

It represents a 40 percent increase in offence, and has occurred against a trio of formidable opponents: San Jose, Anaheim and now Chicago.

What has happened?

From one perspective, the offensive outburst is evenly distributed between even strength and the man advantage, with the Kings’ goal output increasing by about 0.38 goals per game in both situations.

Of course, every team spends a lot more time at five-on-five than on the power play, so the reality is that the lion’s share of the jump is coming on special teams:

Let’s start with the situation that takes up the bulk of minutes in every NHL game: even strength.

The first point to determine is what is driving the increase in goals. There are two ways a team can improve its goal totals—either by taking more shots or scoring on more of the shots that it takes. Which is the case in L.A.?

The Kings’ shot totals have actually declined in the playoffs, which makes sense—they’re consistently playing better opponents than they faced during the regular season.

Thus far in the postseason, they've attempted fewer shots in an average hour (Corsi/60) and gotten a smaller percentage of the shots they do attempt on net (Shots/60). That hasn’t hurt Los Angeles, though, because the Kings have seen a big spike in shooting percentage, from 6.7 percent up to 8.7 percent.

Is that ...

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