|Jarret Stoll and the Kings find themselves congratulating Jonathan Quick often. (Getty Images)|
The Los Angeles Kings are starting to make a bit of a push in the Western Conference, having earned at least a point in 14 of their past 16 games.
Almost all of that success has been the result of their defensive play, and perhaps even more importantly, the play of goalie Jonathan Quick, who is putting together a season as good as any player in the league at his position.
Entering this week, the Kings find themselves seventh in the Western Conference, and have compiled 5-1-4 record over their past 10 games, earning 14 of a possible 20 points in the standings over that stretch. That's the good news. The bad news is they are currently the lowest scoring team in the league, averaging only 2.15 goals per game. To put that in some context, the two teams just ahead of them are Minnesota (2.22) and Columbus (2.34).
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Only once since 2005-06 has a team finished a full season averaging fewer than 2.20 goals per game -- last year's New Jersey Devils, who averaged only 2.09.
Don't think that matters? Well, consider that since the NHL went to its current conference alignment and 1 vs. 8 playoff format, the worst offensive team in the league at the end of the season has never qualified for the playoffs. The closest any team came was during the 2009-10 season when the Boston Bruins were the second-worst goal-scoring team and managed to sneak in thanks to goalie Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas.
To find the last time the lowest scoring team did make the playoffs you have to go all the way back to the 1988-89 Vancouver Canucks, when the NHL was still divided up by the Patrick, Adams, Norris and Smythe Divisions. That season the Canucks finished with a 33-39-8 record and would go on to lose in the first round of the divisional playoffs, in seven games, to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Calgary Flames.
Needless to say, the Kings are going to have to find offense in the lineup (or even outside their current lineup) because it's awfully difficult to keep winning games 1-0 and 2-1.
I think they can (or should be able to) do that. For one, it's not like the Kings lack skill on their lines, especially at center with Anze Kopitar and a now-healthy Mike Richards. With the way the Kings are playing defensively, and with the type of goaltending they're getting from Quick, they don't need to be the best offensive team in the league, they just need to avoid being the absolute worst.