As we wrote in the game recap, Game 1 was a close, physical battle that saw the Kings steal home ice away from the #2 seeded Blues.
In our series preview, we highlighted that Backes and Kopitar were going to see a lot of each other and the result of that battle would go a long way in determining the victor. We also highlighted that the Kings bottom 6 would need to maintain the momentum they gained in Games 4 & 5 of the Vancouver series in order for the team to be successful against the Blues. How did that all shake out in Game 1?
Here are the charts:
- The Blues need less players with long last names.
- We can see that each team's top 5 were hard matched against each other as expected. The Kings top 5 had a tougher job though, as Hitchcock gave his top guys the lion's share of the team's offensive zone starts. Even with that they all ended up in the red in every shot differential metric (shots, fenwick, corsi). Their numbers get even worse when adjusted for zone starts as you can see from the chart above, 35%. Advantage: Kopitar, Doughty, et al. in Game 1.
- We saw almost the diametrical opposite when looking at the teams' 2nd units. Richards as a result saw a lot favorable zone starts against Berglund, Russell, et al., yet they failed to be effective. It was a saving grace for the Kings though that they were not dominated to the level that the Blues top unit was. This is an area where the Blues can make headway should their top unit continue to be unsuccessful. Keep your eye on this.
- Another thing we touched on in the preview was that Stoll needed to be consistent and carry his line's momentum from Game 5 in Vancouver to St. Louis. With a 77% ZA Corsi rate, they were able to do that and then some. This is a huge win for the Kings, as forward depth was supposed to be one of the Blues greatest strengths. The Kings showed in game 1 that their forward depth might be underrated.
- The Blues most effective line was their 4th. A fact that Hitchcock himself recognized, calling them "the best line on the team". It will be interesting to see if their role is increased tonight.
Even Strength Line Combinations:
- L1 = Brown-Kopitar-Williams
- L2 = Penner-Richards-Carter
- L3 = King-Stoll-Lewis
- L4 = Richardson-Fraser-Nolan
- D1 = Scuderi-Doughty
- D2 = Mitchell-Voynov
- D3 = Martinez-Greene
- L1 = Perron-Backes-Oshie
- L2 = Steen-Beglund-McDonald
- L3 = Sobotka-Arnott-Stewart
- L4 = Langenbrunner-Nichol-Crombeen
- D1 = Colaiacovo-Pietrangelo
- D2 = Russell-Polak
- D3 = Jackman-Shattenkirk