The Bruins close out a two-game trip to the West Coast with a stop in Los Angeles on Monday. Boston is coming off a convincing 6-2 win in Colorado, and even though the Kings have won just three of their last 13 games, they don't make it easy to score on them.
The Kings have allowed the fewest shots on goal in the league with 1,314 in 48 games, an average of just 27.4 a game. By comparison, Boston has allowed 1,631 shots in the same number of games, an average of 34.0 a contest, which is 28th in the NHL.
"They're a young team, but they've got a lot of talent," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of the Kings. "They haven't allowed that many shots. We're going to have to work to get some shots on net, and that's what we worked on [Sunday in practice], puck possession and being able to be strong on [the puck] and find ways to take it to the net. Those are things you have to do against the L.A. Kings."
Not too many have been successful at it. The Kings have given up 40 or more shots just three times this season. They've kept opponents under 20 shots twice as many times, and held teams under 30 in 34 of their 48 games. Only once in the last 12 games has an opposing team topped 30 shots against L.A.
But Boston is adept at getting pucks through even the stingiest of defenses. The Bruins are second in league with 1,633 shots on goal (34.0 a game). They've been held under 20 just once all season, with 11 games with 40 or more and 36 with more than 30.
And the Bruins won't necessarily be too bothered even if the Kings are able to limit Boston's shots. The Bruins have actually been more successful the less they've short this year, going 8-2-2 when they've had under 30 shots in a game and just 3-5-3 when they've had 40 or more. That includes a 4-3 shootout loss to the Kings when Boston outshot L.A. 41-26 on Nov. 20. The Bruins are also 14-6-3 when they have been outshot in a game, compared to 13-8-4 when outshooting the opponent.
Getting quality chances is more important than quantity, and that is more important than ever now that the Bruins are once again shorthanded up front with Marc Savard sidelined with another head injury after being hit into the glass in Colorado.
The Bruins will have to work to beat a solid Kings defense that features a combination of talented youngsters like Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson and savvy veterans like Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi and Matt Greene. That blue-line corps has helped limit the shots on goal, with Johnson leading the team with 90 blocked shots, Scuderi adding 64 and Doughty 63.
Behind them is goalie Jonathan Quick, a Milford, Conn., native and UMass-Amherst product who set a franchise record with 39 wins last season. This year, he's 20-14-1 with a .917 save percentage and the fifth-best goals-against average in the league at 2.22.
Of course, the Bruins still have a slight edge in Quick's fellow 2010 U.S. Olympian, as Tim Thomas remains atop the NHL with a 1.83 GAA, .945 save percentage and seven shutouts to go with a 23-4-6 record.
Thomas has faced a lot more shots while putting up those numbers, but his workload would be even larger if not for Boston's defense. The Bruins have been even more effective at blocking shots than the Kings, with Dennis Seidenberg leading the way with 107, Zdeno Chara adding 72 and Adam McQuaid 62 in just 34 games. Even up front, Greg Campbell (34), Patrice Bergeron (33) and Blake Wheeler 933) each have more blocks than any forward on the Kings' roster, where Jarret Stoll leads with 28.
The Kings will have their own work cut out for them in getting anything in the Bruins' net, as Boston owns the league's lowest team GAA at 2.17. The Bruins are also fifth in the league in scoring, averaging 3.10 goals a game. So if they can get some pucks on the L.A. net, there's a good chance they'll get enough in the net to close out this West Coast trip in style.