LA played a lot of perimeter hockey and had a near complete failure to create real chances against the Minnesota Wild. Then they won the game. Hockey is the best.
Eric has the game recap here.
- 1st line (King/Brown - Kopitar - Williams), Grade: C. At even strength, this line played exactly how you'd expect a Dwight King line to play. They didn't generate anything and they didn't allow anything. King, Kopitar, and Williams all came out dead even in scoring chances at evens. Brown was a negative, but that came with Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis. In spite of the lackluster offense team wide, Kopitar and Williams came out in the black in shot attempts. Solid defense but completely non-existent offense gives us a completely average line.
- 2nd line (Frattin - Richards - Carter), Grade: B-. If you were looking to the Kings for offense, this was the only unit that helped you out. They secured the only goal for LA at even strength, a late game-tying goal from Jeff Carter. Matt Frattin picked up his first assist as a King on the goal with a deft redirection that Backstrom kicked directly to Carter, who found the empty net. The Kings only logged five chances in the game (just three at even strength) and this line was on the ice for four of them. On the flip-side, they gave up more scoring chances than they created, and they didn't really create that much at even strength any way. Definitely the most effective offensive unit the Kings threw out tonight, but not great overall.
- 3rd line (Brown/King - Stoll - Lewis), Grade: F. Rough game for the checking line, no matter who played left wing. Below average defense and even worse offense combined to give Stoll and Lewis team worsts in shot attempt and scoring chance differentials. About the only positive thing that anyone of this fearsome foursome did all night was draw a penalty. Dustin Brown drew one in the first period. That's literally it. They didn't log a scoring chance. They lost the shot battle badly. Nothing good here. Well, I guess Trevor Lewis did save the game and all. Fine. F+.
- 4th line (Clifford - Fraser - Nolan), Grade: D+. This line was a little screwy tonight. They actually came out ahead of their opposition in shots. They logged one of the team's three even strength scoring chances while not allowing anything against. However, they took three absolutely brutal offensive-zone penalties. Clifford and Fraser took turns boarding Minnesota defensemen. Fraser then added a pointless tripping penalty for good measure (although the refs incorrectly grabbed Kyle Clifford to serve it). As much as those penalties absolutely killed momentum, they played pretty well otherwise.
- 1st pairing (Regehr - Doughty), Grade: C-. Doughty and Regehr really struggled to drive play tonight. Regehr once again looked slow with the puck, a problem I'm sure isn't about to go away. Doughty wasn't spectacular either. Aside from his power play goal, he wasn't involved very much offensively. Although they failed to generate offense (hey, this is a familiar theme!), they didn't get brutalized defensively. Could even argue in favor of their actual defensive zone play, since they were the worst two defensemen on the team at driving possession and it isn't really bared out in the chance numbers. They split their assignments between the top two lines for Minnesota.
- 2nd pairing (Mitchell - Voynov), Grade: F. Not an easy return to the lineup for Willie Mitchell. Sutter gave him plenty of trust though, and that's an encouraging sign. Nothing else was. Mitchell lagged in the shot attempt battle and the pairing was the worst of the three at preventing chances. Mitchell was on the ice for five chances against at even strength and nine overall, each number a team low. He also took a penalty late in the game to give Minnesota one last shot at earning the win. Like the top pairing, these two split their assignments between the top two lines. Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter in particular made this pairing (and the Kings in general) look pretty bad.
- 3rd pairing (Muzzin - Greene), Grade: B-. Muzzin and Greene were the only pairing of the three to come out ahead in shot attempts as a unit. They also managed to come out even in scoring chances, no small feat given the pedestrian offense of the Kings. Greene did take a very ill-advised penalty late in the game while the Kings were trying to tie the game. Other than that, a pretty decent performance for the much-discussed bottom pairing. No surprise then that it appears that Sutter isn't making any changes to his lineup tonight in Winnipeg.
- Power Play, B-. The first power play of the night was excellent. Carter and Frattin logged chances in quick succession shortly before Doughty blasted the early equalizer past Backstrom. After that, the word dreadful comes to mind. In fact, the only scoring chance registered in the last two power plays came at the hands of Ryan Suter, who joined the rush to force a 3-on-2 against the Kings. Not a great night on the whole for the power play, though a 33% success rate sounds really neat.
- Penalty Kill, C+. Jonathan Quick was absolutely stellar on the PK as the Kings weathered the storm. He made 9 saves on 10 shots (league average for SV% on the PK was around 86% last year). Once again, not much else was very good for the Kings. Minnesota logged 8 scoring chances on their power play and notched a goal. Quick saved the Kings' bacon in pretty much every situation last night.
Jonathan Quick, Grade: A.
- This game was very reminiscent of Terry Murray hockey at its best. The Kings directed shots at the net from the perimeter and relied on their goalie to keep them in it long enough to find a crack in the defense. The first goal against him was not on a scoring chance; it was a fluky redirection in front of the net that was borderline illegal. Hard to fault him for that. Other than that, Minnesota registered 17 scoring chances and scored on just 1 of them. The Kings needed Quick to be great and he rose to the occasion, stealing a win for LA.
Overall Team Grade: C+
- LA got worked over pretty hard by Minnesota last night, shot attempts notwithstanding. Kings forwards seemed to struggle handling the puck, tentative in the offensive zone and generally sluggish all over the ice. The defense did an okay job given that they were swimming against the stream all game. At the same time, quicker decision-making with the puck is needed from basically every single skater on the team going forward. The Kings did, somehow, win the shot attempt battle at even strength. That said, Minnesota was the much better team. If you want to be a worrier, this continues a bad trend that started toward the end of last season and continued throughout the playoffs. Fortunately, it's game 1 of 82 so I'm not going to look too much into it.
(NOTE: Normally the attempt numbers below are entirely at even strength, but because some popular #fancystat scripts are down, I don't have access to everything Robert has previously used for these posts just yet. I'll provide some numbers anyway)
|Player||Attempts For||Attempts Against||ES Chances For||ES Chances Against|
Some final notes: Jeff Carter had three of the Kings five scoring chances. Matt Frattin had one. The Man, The Myth, The Legend Jordan Nolan had the fifth. Drew Doughty's goal was not a scoring chance, as the shot came from too far out. Mike Richards set up Carter's first scoring chance. None of the other Kings' scoring chances were on direct set-ups.
Jonathan Quick owns.