With 24 goals for (GF) through their first eight games, the burgeoning Los Angeles Kings (4-4-0) are on pace to score 246 goals over 82 games, sparking optimism that this young team is on the verge of breaking into the league's upper level. While a sign of this sort is a harbinger for success, the turnaround required to bring the Kings into contention would be steep.
Simply put, let's hold off on the coronation just yet.
The Kings don't realistically have the kind of offensive firepower to sustain this start. If they stayed on pace from their first seven games, they would be comparable to the offense of the 2008-09 Boston Bruins. It is a matter of time until they come down to earth, at least a little bit. Even in their past four games, the Kings haven't scored more than two goals a game.
Still, signs of progress are there, particularly given that the scoring outburst is a far cry from what Kings' fans were conditioned to seeing last season: an anemic 207 GF (third worst in the NHL). Compared to their output in the 2007-08 season, the Kings suffered a drop of 35 relative goals for (RGF). RGF measures a team's goal total against the NHL average during a season. That lens keeps goal totals in perspective over the course of the league's numerous rule changes.
The Kings would need to see an increase of 35 relative goals for this season just to get back to the league average in offense. In the past 10 seasons, from 1998-99 to 2008-09, only 16.2 percent of teams with a negative mark in RGF improved by 35 or more the following season. In line with those odds, Puck Prospectus' VUKOTA projections, which are based on performances of past NHL teams, pegged the fledgling Kings with a modest increase in goals scored, from 207 GF to 223 GF, wary about the prospects of their relatively untested youngsters. Such a history suggests that a rapid ascent is not likely, but it is possible, particularly given the Kings' talented young core.
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