A lot of plot-lines led up to Game 2 of the Kings-Blues Conference Semifinal.
Hitchcock tinkered (an understatement) with his lines, Sutter told his team "shh" and admonished them to stay composed, Dwight King was not suspended, Alex Pietrangelo appeared ready to play but then didn't at the last minute. How did this all shake out in Game 2?
Here are the charts:
- The Blues made wholesale changes for Game 2. Backes was winged by McDonald and a two-headed D'Agostini/ Steen monster. Nichol-Crombeen were bumped up from 4th to 2nd line status and paired with Sobotka. Berglund was deployed with Oshie/ Perron and saw limited minutes in a decreased role. Arnott saw little time with Langenbrunner and Steen. On defense, Coloaiacovo experienced the most dramatic change as he saw much fewer minutes sans Pietrangelo along with much easier competition. Roman Polak was given the shut down role along with a mix of partners.
- In our final bullet point of the Game 1 breakdown, we wondered whether Nichol's performance would earn him an increased role in Game 2. Well it did, as he saw 9 ES minutes (2nd only to Backes amongst STL centermen). They were mainly matched against the Richards line and struggled to keep to their Game 2 pace.
- The Richards line on the other hand bounced back from a mediocre Game 1 and were dominant in this one. Even more impressive was the fact that they took more Defensive Zone faceoffs than any other Kings' line.
- Fraser saw a lot of time against Backes and that didn't appear to go well. Fraser's rating was a putrid 18.2%. It's probably safe to say we won't see that matchup in LA very often.
- The story for the Kings though was the play of the Kopitar line. They were unstoppable. Can they possibly keep playing at this high of a level?
- The lone bright spot for the Blues was Coloaiacovo-Cole. They were deployed with their bottom 6 against the Kings' bottom 6. When Coloaiacovo was on the ice the Kings only managed one shot attempt. Look for him to see more time in Game 3.
- It'll be interesting to see what happens with the matchups as the series shifts to LA. It's hard to imagine Sutter going away from Kopitar-Backes at this point. But who will Backes' linemates even be? Blues forwards are a bit of a mess right now, but look for Hitchcock to figure it out before Game 3. It'll be really interesting to see what his lines look like and how Sutter reacts.
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 = McDonald-Backes-D'Agostini/ Steen
- L2 = Sobotka-Nichol-Crombeen
- L3 = Perron-Berglund-Oshie
- L4 = Langenbrunner-Arnott-Steen
- D1 = Russell/ Jackman-Polak
- D2 = Jackman/ Russell-Shattenkirk
- D3 = Colaiacovo-Cole