I wanna start this one on a high note, because you're about to sink into depression related to lack of scoring (haha, that's called innuendo!). So this is just a reminder that Bob Miller made a really great joke about Paul Bissonnette's twitter usage. I love you, Bob Miller.
Eric has the recap here.
- 1st line (King - Kopitar - Williams), C-. The Kings' top line saw the Shane Doan line a majority of the night and... Meh. While they did manage to limit scoring chances for the most part, they didn't create a lot on their own and ended up slightly below water in possession. In score-close situations, the Kings registered just 47.4% of all shot attempts with Kopitar on the ice, making him the only King below 50%. It's a small sample of a small sample, but it really wasn't a very good night for him in Phoenix. It is worth noting, however, that the top line got just 2 offensive zone starts. They spent the vast majority of the night beginning their shifts in the defensive or neutral zones.
- 2nd line (Richards - Carter - Frattin), C. Against similar competition, but with slightly easier zone starts, the Richards line fared slightly better than the Kopitar line. All three players came out ahead in possession, while only Richards fell to even in scoring chances. Although he was criticized by a certain #puckstopper enthusiast, Matt Frattin ended up +2 in scoring chances at even strength. To my eye, things are much more under control with him on the ice now than they were early in the season when he was on his off-wing. I'm not sure what benefit there is to moving him out of the top six, especially when you consider potential replacements on the current roster.
- 3rd line (Carcillo - Stoll - Brown), B+. As expected, Jarret Stoll was one of the best possession players on the Kings in Phoenix. The Kings' comeback attempt was led by the 3rd line, which registered 4 chances as a unit. Even before the score got away from the Kings, Stoll was pretty solid. He did take 2 penalties, but his possession game was stronger than it had been all season. All three were +3 in even strength chances, a figure which led Kings' forwards. Brown himself logged 2 chances and set up 3 others. He also had 4 hits, if you're into that sort of thing.
- 4th line (Clifford - Lewis - Nolan), B-. Although it's somewhat expected in the first of a back-to-back situation, it was nice to see a 4th line capable of being rolled out with regularity. Added benefit: I didn't have to tense every muscle in my body while they were out there. 4th line center might be the role Trevor Lewis was born to play. He can be sent out there regularly, offense isn't counted on and you can deploy him against more-than-awful competition while expecting reasonable success. Reasonable success is what the Kings found last night. Clifford, Lewis, and Nolan all were able to hold their own, even with Sutter throwing the former two out in the defensive zone from time to time. Nolan also applied some of the offensive prowess we saw in the first 5-7 games of the season by logging a pair of scoring chances.
- 1st pairing (Regehr - Doughty), C+. For the first time this season, Sutter regularly split the Regehr/Doughty pairing. It came in the 3rd with the Kings pressing (with the added pressure of the Sharks awaiting them in LA), but it still happened. And it was kinda great. As a pairing, Mitchell and Doughty went +4 in chances (+2 at evens). Now I'm not actually in the mood to blast Regehr as I didn't have any real issues with his game last night. However, it was nice to see Mitchell up there. Regehr actually came out slightly ahead in possession in spite of some pretty tough minutes.
- 2nd pairing (Mitchell- Voynov), A. Regehr and Voynov were on the ice for the only scoring chance that Phoenix put together in the 3rd period and were quiet otherwise. On the other hand, Willie Mitchell was kinda awesome all night. While he was the beneficiary of some good timing, it's worth noting that he wound up +8/-1 in EV chances. That is both an elite offensive and defensive night, especially given his top-tier competition. He had a Kopitar-esque night, except from the back end. He also logged a scoring chance, which I believe was his first of the season.
- 3rd pairing (Muzzin - Greene), B-. Sutter did a lot of shuffling on the back-end throughout the game tonight, and this pairing was no exception. With the Kings pressing late in the game, Muzzin also saw some time with Doughty, although they did little worth noting. In fact, in spite of all that pair-shuffling in the 3rd, Muzzin wound up on the ice for just 1 scoring chance. Greene registered that chance, his first of the season. Even though Greene and Muzzin received reversed zone starts (Greene got tough ones, Muzzin easy ones), Greene fared much better in both possession and chances. Combine that with Muzzin's penalty (another penalty that could've been avoided if Muzzin just moves his feet) and it being the second of a back-to-back and I expect Martinez to be in the lineup tonight. We shall see.
- Power Play, D. They were kinda shitty. While they did get a goal after the game moved out of reach, the first 2 power plays of the game could be described as "atrocious," "hilarious," "disastruous," and "a complete failure." The Kings struggled to enter the zone with any speed or control, often resorting to dumps or chips to gain the blue line (which would sometimes be taken care of by Mike Smith himself). They did score and generate a dash of offense late in the game, but at critical junctures early on, they came up short.
- Penalty Kill, C. I actually thought the penalty kill was alright in spite of the goal they allowed. During the Great Special Teams War of the First Period, the Kings withstood a lot of heat from Phoenix, including some typically-lethal 4v3 and 5v3 time. However, when they needed to come up big, they failed, and it put the Kings firmly on their heels to begin the 3rd period. It's been a steady backwards slide for the Kings PK over the past 5 games, and they failed to stunt that slide in Phoenix.
Ben Scrivens, A-.
- I'm giving him a minus because 3 goals against in a loss is a tough sell, but he was really good. He had a .912 SV% on scoring chances directed on net and generally was really, really solid. He kept the Kings in it a bit longer than they really deserved to be. While the offense was dangerous pretty consistently, the game itself was a track meet at times and the Kings gave up far more chances than they should've. Scrivens bailed them out as long as he could've. None of the goals were really his fault. They were all the results of bad bounces or very skilled plays by Phoenix.
Overall Team Performance, C+
- I know some of you might wonder what's so different about this game as opposed to the last. For one, they took a lot of really bad penalties early in a game that they were dominating. That just can't happen. When you're controlling the puck and taking penalties, it's because you're making bad decisions. Muzzin's trip and both of Stoll's penalties stand out here. The Kings were victims of their own bad timing. They failed on power plays early when they had a chance to put their boots on the necks of the Coyotes; they failed on the PK late in the 2nd to put the Kings firmly in chase mode. On top of that, the Kings didn't use their offensive control to stifle their opponent as they did against Edmonton. Phoenix came right back down the ice and (with the aid of their power play) logged a bunch of chances of their own. While they were again victim to some bad luck, a lot of the Kings' undoing in Phoenix came at their own hands.
- While it was another night that saw the Kings log a bunch of shots and no goals, I liked the offensive game in Phoenix much more than I did against Edmonton. The chances were of higher quality, seemed closer to the net and required much more skill to stop. However, with both of those games coming back-to-back, I understand the frustration.
- Extra Skater.
- 10,542, the announced attendance in Glendale.
- Scoring chance and Corsi tables below.