Man. That game was frustrating. Almost as frustrating as these:
Or maybe not. It's important to remember that the Kings are 6-0-2 in their last 8 games. They played well Thursday night. It seems as if they were once again bested by a good goalie. I can't tell you why it is happening to the Kings a lot right now, but it's worth noting that they've also seen some weak performances by opposing goalies in recent memory. Basically, it balances out. Not for any rhyme or reason. In fact, "balances" isn't the right word. The ledger will never be totally even, but the Kings will see some clunkers by the opposing goalie several times before the season is up.
- 1st line (Brown - Kopitar - Williams), A. What do you even say about these three any more? They're rolling. While they had slightly-better-than neutral zone starts, Sutter tasked them with toughest competition on the team and they completely dominated again. Kopitar and Williams were +3 in chances at evens while Brown found himself on the ice for a pair of additional chances. The Kings controlled 68% of the shot attempts with the top line out there. They got the only goal. Kopitar is amazing. I want to be best friends with Justin Williams.
- 2nd line (King - Richards - Toffoli), B-. It's difficult to be critical of a line that controlled a heavy majority of the shot attempts. However, while the rest of the team was shining and creating offense, this line was eerily silent. Toffoli also saw severely limited time at 5v5 play with just over 9 minutes. He saw more minutes than the fourth line and that's it. They received fairly neutral zone starts and slightly above average competition, so their strong possession night can't be overlooked. However, the trio created just 1 scoring chance on the night. The Kings had 13 at even strength.
- 3rd line (Carcillo - Stoll - Frattin), C+. Under difficult circumstances, it was an acceptable night. However, they've had much tougher zone starts and competition in previous games and performed better. Still, Sutter continued to use them as something of a defensive stopper unit and they responded by not allowing a scoring chance against. At the same time, they gave up more possession than they generated and Matt Frattin was the only one of the three that was really buzzing. In fact, Matt Frattin was excellent. He was the fast, physical forward I thought we were going to have from day one. He's improved pretty steadily recently and Thursday night was certainly his best display to date.
4th line (Pearson - Vey - Lewis), B. It was a much better night for this line than than it was for the prior meeting between these two teams, though not as solid as it was against the Lightning. Tanner Pearson put together probably his best game as a King. Though Pearson generated 5 scoring chances (he may have had the strongest "net-front" night of any King this season) on his own, 3 of those were on the power play. At even strength, this line was a mixed bag. They created more offense than any Kings' 4th line has this season, but they allowed 3 of New Jersey's 4 even strength chances in the process. The possession game from these three was pretty strong, though, and that fact can't be cast aside.
- 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), A. Another extraordinary night for the top pairing. Although they received pretty easy zone starts, their competition was top-shelf and Doughty dominated again. Doughty tied for a team-high rating by going +5 in chances at evens. Muzzin set up a scoring chance and went +4 himself.
- 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), A. The second pair was extremely solid once again as they put together maybe their best performance since Sutter shuffled the deck. With neutral zone starts and fairly strong competition -- they saw a lot of New Jersey's second line -- they dominated possession and went +3/-1 in scoring chances. Voynov had a large hand in both of the Kings' chances in overtime, although I suppose that's to be expected as the Kings only had 3 players on the ice at the time. Someone has to carry the puck.
- 3rd pairing (Mitchell - Martinez), C+. Sutter opted not to shelter their zone starts, but their competition was rather weak. Though the Kings did win possession with them on the ice, it was by a slight margin. The same could be said about their scoring chance numbers. Certainly not a bad night. It's also nice to see Sutter put some more faith in Martinez. Certainly doesn't have his full trust yet, but I'll take any progress that I can get here.
Power Play, B. They just couldn't find the back of the net. I'm not sure what more they could've done to make it happen, either. The Kings logged 17 shot attempts, 13 of which were unblocked, 10 of which found Cory Scheider and 6 of which counted as scoring chances. They were as dominant as they've been this season and have zilch to show for it. The theme of the season is "keep it up and good things will happen" and it may not be any more apparent than it was with the power play Thursday night. If there's a knock against them, they weren't very strong during their lone power play in the third.
Penalty Kill, A. To put it in perspective, the Kings generated over 2 shot attempts per minute during their power plays while New Jersey managed a shot attempt a minute on theirs. The Kings actually went just -1 in shot attempts while on the penalty kill. If not for Trevor Lewis's offensive ineptitude, they may have even generated a proper scoring chance during a 2-on-1 break in the first period. Very strong game.
Ben Scrivens, F
- I just want to utilize this area to say that The Professor gets a failing grade. Thank you. Moving on.
Overall Team Performance, A
- They did almost everything right. In fact, I can't point to an aspect of their game that was bad. Ben Scrivens wasn't tested much and you could easily pin the blame on other people for the goals against (Willie Mitchell, Dustin Brown). Regardless of who you blame for those, I don't think the Kings lost the game nearly as much as Cory Schneider won it. If there's any solace in that, it's that Schneider really did win this game. It wasn't as it was against Ryan Miller, where the Kings lobbed shots from harmless distances. The Kings generated 20 scoring chances in the game, which may be the highest total they've registered this year. They re-directed shots, they crashed the net and they went to the scoring area repeatedly; they did everything right. Cory Schneider is just an asshole that hates fun and wants to eat your soul.
- Extra Skater
- There's a tiny disconnect between the "EV" total at the top of the team report and the totals if you add them up period by period and include OT. I have it set to count 4v4 as EV in the period totals, but not the totals for the game. Not important, just letting you know!!!
- That was the first goal the Kings have allowed at 4v4 this season. They're now +3/-1 in goals during 4v4 play.
- Tables below.