Avalanche @ Kings: Grades and Analysis

Cool thing about Ben's helmet: pipes in his current audiobook of choice - (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ben Scrivens buoyed the Kings to a point.

The Kings fell flat in the 3rd period against the Avs on Saturday night. Eric has the recap here.

Forward Lines

  • 1st line (King - Kopitar - Williams), C. After several strong games in a row, Sutter opted to split one of the best lines in the league by subbing in Dwight King for Dustin Brown. The results weren't very good. Amid tough zone starts (something you'll find was a theme during this game) and competition, the top line of the Kings slightly lost possession while splitting scoring chances. Kopi's line generated just 1 scoring chance, and that came on an individual effort from Kopitar himself. Williams and King were entirely silent.

  • 2nd line (Pearson - Richards - Toffoli), D. In spite of a poor overall performance by the line, Tyler Toffoli had the best statistical night of any King. He went +4/-1 in EV chances and was one of just two Kings to keep his head above water in shot attempts. However, this line was also the only line to get any kind of sheltering. The Kings had some serious trouble moving the puck out of their end of the ice on Saturday. As a result, they had 19 defensive zone faceoffs and 18 faceoffs throughout the rest of the ice. These three were the only three to even break even in o/d-zone starts. On top of that, they received fairly weak competition, seeing a lot of the Avs' third line (feat. Cody McLeod) and struggled. Richards was +4/-4 in ev chances and lost possession. I like the idea of Pearson taking Dwight King's spot on this line given the net-front presence Pearsons displayed since being recalled, but it may be an idea better suited to a line with a better play-driver on his opposite wing. Then again, this line had some success with Dwight King. Was that success an illusion or can Pearson do more to make this line better?

  • 3rd line (Clifford - Stoll - Brown), C-. Sutter once again utilized Stoll in the defensive stopper role, giving them just 2 offensive zone starts (out of 12 total) and stiff competition. Under those circumstances, their performance was either about expected or maybe slightly below expected. They lost possession by a fairly significant margin and went +1/-3 in EV chances. On the surface, it seems like a particularly poor use of Dustin Brown given his propensity for creating offense. Burying him with ridiculous zone starts and players that aren't elite play-drivers is a good way to kill an offense that's already pretty rough around the edges. Sutter's in a rough spot, though, until Carter gets healthy. There simply aren't enough healthy bodies on the right side to keep Brown away from this spot. Brown is probably a better option than Toffoli, Williams is attached to Kopitar at the hip and Colin Fraser barely belongs in the lineup. Those were Sutter's options; Brown was probably the best one.

  • 4th line (Carcillo - Vey - Fraser), C+. Another notch in favor of Vey being a pretty decent defensive player. With very unfavorable zone starts and surprisingly difficult competition (Landeskog, O'Reilly and MacKinnon are near the top of his match-up list), Vey's -1 in EV shot attempts looks pretty okay. On top of that, he allowed just 1 chance against and was even at evens. Carcillo had some more rough moments with the puck in his own end and in the neutral zone, so he may be the first back out of the lineup as more bodies become available.

Defensive Pairings

  • 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), D. One of their worst nights as a pairing. Muzzin was a tangible drag on Doughty, an event that's been a rarity in their time together dating back to last season. While Doughty saw just 2 more minutes of EV TOI than Muzzin, he managed to create 2 more chances in that time. Though Doughty's shot attempt figures are acceptable under the difficult ice time he received, Muzzin's were substantially worse. In fact, Muzzin had the worst Corsi on the Kings on Saturday night (+5/-11). ON TOP OF THAT (Muzzin's struggles have some layers), he and Jarret Stoll communicated poorly on the play that led to the overtime goal that Colorado scored. While it was a fluky goal, one has to wonder if better positioning prevents the initial chance from happening or at least leaves Stoll's shoulder away from the bouncing puck.

  • 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), F. Though they still received more d-zone starts than o-zone starts, they got by far the most opportunity to succeed by starting in Colorado's end 5 times. Unfortunately, it didn't matter much. The Avs took the play to this pairing, creating more chances against Voynov than any other King. The pairing did face tough competition and their forwards didn't give them much help, but it's been a pretty common refrain that we need to expect more out of Slava Voynov's pairing.

  • 3rd pairing (Mitchell - Martinez), C. Sutter continued (perhaps by force, this time) to use this pair in the defensive zone, and they responded with moderate success. Martinez was the other King (besides Toffoli) to get his head above water in shot attempts and was one of just three Kings to do that in EV scoring chances (Toffoli, Doughty). However, this pairing's competition was weak, so some of their success (which was moderate to begin with) has to be taken with a grain of salt. Just a decent outing for the third pair.

Special Teams

  • Power Play, F. They generated just 2 chances in 4 opportunities. On a night when the 5v5 offense was limited from the get-go by injuries, the power play had to step up. They did not.

  • Penalty Kill, A. They allowed just 3 chances on the night, all of which came in a 9-second span. Ben Scrivens was a factor, but the penalty kill did a pretty solid job for about 97% of their time out there.

Ben Scrivens, A.

  • Excellent night for the Kings' backstop. He made several excellent saves to keep the Kings alive, and was only undone by an extremely unfortunate bounce. He made saves on all 10 chances the Avs directed on net. Great rebound from a so-so game against New Jersey. Scrivens was the difference between 0 and 1 points in this one, and it's a real shame that the Kings couldn't do more for him. It was the 4th time this season that he's turned in a 1.000 SV% in 5v5 situations, matching Quick's total in 5 fewer games played. He's due for some regression, but it's awful nice that he's keeping the Kings in games while they struggle to find the back of the net.

Overall Team Performance, F.

  • It was the second worst possession-performance of the season, made worse by the fact that the entire game was played in a tied situation and just the fourth time this season that the Kings have lost the 5v5 Corsi battle. Now, a lot of the Kings' undoing in this regard was done in the third period, but that doesn't make me feel a whole lot better. The Kings were able to control the first period to a decent extent, but the Avs turned the ice the other way after that. Los Angeles looked like a team that received devastating news during the first intermission and spent the rest of the night going through the motions (save for Ben Scrivens). I expect a much more focused effort in Vancouver.

The Numbers

  • Extra Skater
  • Tables and cool charts below. At the bottom, I'll attach the Kings' 5v5 FF% in score-close situations so you can see just how brutal they were against Colorado. It's a bar graph. It's available at Extra Skater. Go look at Extra Skater. That site rules.

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