The Kings generated much more offense against Winnipeg than they did in the win against Minnesota. Then they lost. Hockey sucks.
Eric has the game story here.
- 1st line (Brown - Kopitar - Williams), Grade: B. The Kings' top line did some pretty serious lifting against the Jets' typically solid Ladd-Little-Wheeler unit. They almost completely eliminated that line's effectiveness and did a pretty good job of turning the puck back up ice for some offense of their own. They dominated the corsi battle and came out even in chances at even strength. Kopitar logged 2 chances and set up another, Williams reversed that, and Brown had 3 chances of his own. Unfortunately, a lot of that came on special teams. This threesome can be more dangerous at even strength, especially when they carry possession as completely as they did in this game. At any rate, it's a huge improvement over the game against Minnesota.
- 2nd line (Frattin - Richards - Carter), Grade: C-. It was a tale of two games for this group. Initially, they did a solid job of creating offense and controlling the play. However, right around the halfway point of the game they hit the wall. The 3rd-period meltdown occurred largely with some grouping of these 3 on the ice, if not all 3 at once. In a particularly poor 7-minute stretch to being the 3rd, Jeff Carter ended up on the ice for 6 chances against, Richards was on the ice for 5 and Frattin for 4. Both goals were scored against some portion of this line, although 1 came while the Kings were shorthanded. That makes back to back weak defensive games for this group. However, they did have a strong start to the game, and ultimately the good just about equals the bad. They fared decently against 2nd and 3rd tier opposition and didn't get eaten alive by the Evander Kane line. They came out just about even in both possession and scoring chances at even strength.
- 3rd line (King - Stoll - Lewis), Grade: F. Yikes. That's back-to-back nightmare games for a line that had at least managed to generate possession in the past. Last season, the 3rd line could usually cobble together a low-key dump-and-chase-based possession game. Now they can't do much of anything. No one expects them to light up the scoreboard but their first two performances of the season aren't even of the quality you would expect from a bottom-feeding team, let alone a cup contender. They saw a lot of time against the 2nd and 3rd line and got killed. Evander Kane was a force to be reckoned with last night, and a lot of his dominance came while matched against this line. Unfortunately, they weren't able to stop the bleeding against the 3rd line, and wound up losing the battle there as well.
- 4th line (Clifford - Fraser - Nolan), Grade: B. This is the kind of performance the 4th line provided during the cup run; it was also something that was also sorely lacking a season ago. Pretty much the only time the Kings contained Evander Kane last night was when Colin Fraser baited him into a fight and got him to sit in the penalty box for 5 minutes. There was another moment late in the game -- after the Kings had pulled within a goal -- when Fraser crashed the crease with enough restraint to avoid taking a penalty, but also with enough menace to force the Jets to respond. It didn't turn into a power play, but it struck me as a solid veteran play by a player who has deservedly taken a lot of heat. The 4th line isn't going to create much offense, but they can draw penalties and they were pretty effective at that last night. On top of Fraser goading Kane, Clifford drew a penalty of his own. They were pretty much hard-matched against the 4th line of the Jets and received soft zone starts, but they did turn in a solid shot attempt performance. In an ideal world, their control of the puck would have translated to more real scoring opportunities. It did not. Life isn't fair.
- 1st pairing (Regehr - Doughty), C-. Another rather ho hum night for the Kings' top pairing. They did a solid job possession-wise while being given very tough zone starts, but had trouble sorting things out in their own zone. They each ended up on the ice for more chances against than any other player on the team by a fair margin. Doughty can be excused for some of that, as he had the most ice-time on the team. However, Regehr did not, and he fared worse than Doughty. On top of that, Regehr's completely worthless penalty late in the game put a straitjacket on the Kings' comeback attempt.
- 2nd pairing (Mitchell - Voynov), C+. The 2nd pairing wound up being an inverse of the 1st. They lost the possession battle with easier zone starts (I suspect that they drew the Kane line a lot, but I didn't keep track of that and don't have a place to find that info at the moment), but managed to come out even in the scoring chance battle. Each player had a direct hand in creating a scoring chance. A little note on Willie Mitchell: he's already seeing more time on the penalty kill than any other King. Obviously we're all still worried about his knee, but Sutter appears comfortable giving him a lot of responsibility right away. For comparison's sake, he was not as ready to put a ton of faith in Matt Greene immediately when Greene returned last year. After Greene returned last season, Sutter never gave him as much ice-time as he did in the season prior. So, there's some early encouragement with regards to Willie Mitchell.
- 3rd pairing (Muzzin - Greene), C-. As is usual, the third pairing experienced moderate success with very soft minutes. Muzzin never received a defensive zone start, and Greene saw just 1. They easily won the possession battle (as they should). Unfortunately, unlike the game against Minnesota, they each came out a minus with regards to scoring chances. Greene also took 2 minor penalties in less than 10 minutes of elapsed game time right as the game started to slip from the Kings
- Power Play, A. Can't argue against this one. They picked up 2 goals in 5 opportunities. The power play was almost solely responsible for the Kings climbing back into the game late. Good start to the season for the power play.
- Penalty Kill, B. The PK gave up 5 scoring chances over 6 power plays and 1 of them happened to go in the net. Mixed bag in the third as they gave up a goal at a bad time but then came up with a huge kill at a bigger time to keep the Kings in it. Dustin Brown also generated an excellent chance that nearly tied the game late while shorthanded. Not a perfect night, but a pretty decent one. The biggest problem with the penalty kill right now is that we're seeing too much of it. The Kings need to ease up on the minor penalties, especially the ones coming from depth players. Against Minnesota, it was the 4th line. Against Winnipeg, it was the 3rd pairing.
- Jonathan Quick, C-. I hesitate to give him a truly bad grade as he managed to make several game-maintaining saves. However, the first goal by Kane was inexcusable and 4 goals on 27 shots isn't a good effort no matter how you slice it. It's hard to absolutely fault him on the last 3 goals, but you should expect more from your workhorse. However, Sutter shouldn't have started him and hopefully that's an early lesson for him. There are very, very few circumstances that require starting your goalie on back to back nights, and the first two road games of the season is not one of them. Sutter gets a failing grade for goalie management. Unfortunately, he has a long history of riding goalies into the ground.
- Ben Scrivens, C+. He stopped all 5 shots he faced and made saves on 2 scoring chances. Good, quick start to his Kings' career. If Sutter is going to have any inclination to not burn Quick before the playoffs roll around, it will be important for Scrivens to get off to a good start to secure some of Sutter's trust.
Overall Team Grade: B-
The effort was largely better tonight, especially early. However, the speed of the Jets' -- their second line in particular -- really wore down the Kings as the game went on. After owning the play in the first 30, the Kings completely slipped in the last 30. Through the first half of the game, I had the scoring chances at 10-2 LA. It went 14-7 Winnipeg after that, and the Kings only climbed back into the game on the wings of the power play along with the aid of some pretty serious score effects. However, they did play a solid first half and had a strong finish. If not for some shaky goaltending and some very ill-timed penalties, the Kings probably get at least a point out of this one. The Kings could also use some improvement in d-zone play. They're sluggish at clearing the puck and allowing too much penetration into the middle of the ice.
All of the numbers will be at 5v5 from now on. If you haven't bookmarked Extra Skater by now, you really should take the time to do so. They have loads of information for both individual games and the entire season.. It's still a new site, but it's excellent if you like numbers.
|Player||Attempts For||Attempts Against|
Notes: Dustin Brown led the team with 3 scoring chances. Richards, Kopitar, Frattin, Stoll and Carter all had 2. Williams, Fraser, and Voynov all had 1. Justin Williams set up 2 chances to lead the team. Muzzin, Doughty, Richards, Kopitar, Mitchell and King all set up 1 of their own. Goaltending was pretty shaky for both teams. The Kings led the Jets at 5v5, 5v5 close, and 5v5 tied corsi. That lines up with my eyes, entirely unlike the Wild game which LOOKED like a complete mess but ended up not really being one according to the numbers.