In the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Colin Fraser was selected in the 3rd round by the Philadelphia Flyers. Soon after, his rights were shipped over to the Blackhawks as a throw-in for Alexei Zhamnov. Over the next four years, he toiled in the minors, where he totaled eleven times as many penalty minutes as he did goals.
In the 2010 season, he played seventy games for the Blackhawks, but only three in the playoffs, and zero past the first round. He watched his teammates lift the Cup and very soon after he found himself in Edmonton. A hapless season later he was shipped over to the Kings, a pawn in Ryan Smyth-gate. When he required surgery to repair an unhealed ankle fracture, an unhappy Dean Lombardi filed a grievance. It was widely assumed that they would waive him the first chance they got.
Instead, they decided to keep him around: a borderline depth player who'd never seen better than fourth line minutes. He worked his way in as a line-up regular and has been so in the playoffs as well, only missing two games to attend to a family issue in Alberta during the Conference Final. (Fortunately, his 19 month old son is safe and healthy now. One can only assume that it was something rather serious in order for him to have to sit out to begin with.)
Last night, ten minutes into the first period, left uncovered, Fraser beat future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur from the slot with a one-timer. In addition to recording his first career playoff goal, Fraser and his linemates neutralized their opponents, only allowing 2 shot attempts of the Devils' total of 34. It's safe to say the team is happy to have him.
Now for the stats:
Head-to-Head Scoring Chances:
- Often times seemingly solid performances from a team's depth line in a Stanley Cup Final can be the anxiously awaited chance for blowhards across the hockey landscape to use words like "gritty". Just about every time you hear this kind of stuff there should be smoke wafting out of the back of your bullshit detector. Last night, was the exception. There are not enough T's in gritty to describe it. They won the shot attempts battle with a game high 78% rating.
- The Kopitar line spent 43.5% of its minutes against Devils' top line. Their performance was not as dominant as we've been accustomed to seeing from a possession standpoint through the playoffs. I guess we can forgive them that though in the face of the most beautiful goal in Kings' history:
- The Richards line saw their minutes evenly spread across the top nine and outbattled their opponents with some ferocious back-checking. They were shaky at times with some poor neutral zone passing but they were able to over come it with solid defensive zone coverage
- The Devils' top six had a real rough go of it. Kovalchuk was ineffective at driving the play along with linemates Adam Henrique and Alexei Ponikarovsky. Zajac and Parise didn't fare much better. Look for Peter DeBoer to mix up lines for Game 2.
- Drew Doughty is a machine. That long, purple bar reading "72%" over "D1" on the chart above is a big middle finger to those complaining about his contract and alleged subpar performance all regular season long.
- The only line that finished with a positive rating for the Devil's was the Gionta line. They had a similarly gritty performance that went largely unnoticed. They spent a lot of their time against the Kings' top line as well as the bottom 6.
- Salvador/ Zidlicky had a horrible breakdown on the game losing goal to go along with some pretty bad numbers. They led all Devils' defensive pairings in even strength ice time and drew the shutdown role against the Kopitar line. Let's see if DeBoer eases back Salvador/Zidlicky's minutes against them and hands some more time over to Greene/Fayne who were slightly more effective.
- We wondered what the possession results would be after uncovering that both teams were pretty even in that regard through the first three rounds of the payoffs. The Kings drew first blood, winning the battle last night 58% to 42%.
- If you missed it, check out our comprehensive Stanley Cup Final Preview: Part 1 (Player Usage), Part 2 (NJ Line Matching Strategies), Part 3 (LA Kings Line Matching Strategies), and Part 4 (Puck Possession Comparison).
- The Kings won the scoring chance battle 14-10 and 13-9 at even strength. Click here for a more in depth breadown of scoring chances.
- As the article points out, of those 13 ES chances, Drew Doughty was on the ice for 9.
- The biggest worries from the Kings following game one would have to be the play of their 3 line and 2nd pairing.
- It appeared to be a strategy by the Devils' to heavily pressure Voynov and Mitchell with their aggressive forecheck. The Kings suffered in both scoring chances and puck possession when they were on the ice. Keep an eye on how they fare in Game 2.
- The Stoll line had a miserable game from a possession standpoint but didn't allow many scoring chances as a result. They've been a bit streaky over the course of the playoffs. We'll see if they can bounce back.
- Even though the Kopitar line had a just OK (well for them anyhow) they managed to accumulate a lot of chances. If I were the Devils' I would really try to get Fayne/ Greene out against them instead of Salvador/Zidlicky.
- It doesn't look like DeBoer is going to mix up his lines for Game 2. That seems like a mistake to me, but we'll see what happens.
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 = Parise-Zajac-Zubrus
- L2 = Kovalchuk-Henrique-Ponikarovsky
- L3 = Clarkson-Josefson-Elias
- L4 = Carter-Gionta-Bernier
- D1 = Salvador-Zidlicky
- D2 = Greene-Fayne
- D3 = Volchenkov-Harrold
*Note: there was slight error in the line matching chart in the original post. We updated it and made a couple edits. Everything is all better now.