Predators @ Kings: Grades and Analysis

Matt Greene moments before he eats this puck - Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images

The Kings are playing an exciting new game that makes you figure out which healthy scratch is the most depressing. Saturday belonged to Linden Vey.

For the umpteenth time this season, the Kings heavily tilted the ice toward the opposing goal, only to lose in depressing fashion.

  • John's recap
  • View from On the Forecheck.
  • Just gonna get this out of the way: this game was rather score effected. The Kings chased the game and the numbers bear it out. However, they still controlled 58.2% of shot attempts in score-close situations.

Forward Lines

  • 1st line (King - Kopitar - Williams), A-. Unless I tell you otherwise (and I will, twice), every unit the Kings' sent out thoroughly controlled possession. It wasn't close. The Kings generated 29 shot attempts with Kopitar on the ice. TWENTY-FREAKIN'-NINE. Kopitar's line ultimately went +19 in shot attempts in the game. They didn't see any particular match-up a lot, but it's tough to tell much difference in skill between Nashville's top 3 lines anyway. On the negative side, Kopitar's line was on the ice for a pair of chances against. That ties for the worst figure among Kings' forwards. Dustin Brown saw time with his old linemates in the 3rd period as well. 23/11/14 generated 1 chance (the goal they scored was not a chance, so there's that too) as a unit and was on the ice for 1 chance against.
  • Tyler Toffoli was the best forward by a country mile on Saturday night
  • 2nd line (Carcillo - Richards - Toffoli), A-. Tyler Toffoli was the best forward by a country mile on Saturday night, and that's not designed to take anything away from anyone else. He was a force while he was out there. At 5v5 play he was +6/-1 in chances and was also on the ice for all 3 6v5 chances the Kings registered. Carcillo had his most positive game in a while, going +3/0 in chances while drawing more penalties than he took. Richards was directly involved with 5 scoring chances and went +4 at evens. Sutter limited Carcillo's ice-time as the game went on and eventually moved King to the left side of this line. 74/10/73 was extremely effective in the 3rd, although they did get victimized for Nashville's goal.
  • 3rd line (Brown - Stoll - Lewis), C. This is more just the Lewis/Brown grade, as Stoll left the game shortly after the 2nd period began. Relative to the rest of the team, this line was pretty bad. However, they did dominate possession and they didn't honestly do... anything, really. Lewis logged a chance, but Brown was completely silent. He did not register a chance or set-up in the game. He did have 5 hits, if you're into that sort of thing. As the game wore on, Frattin also saw time with Lewis. Lewis's line primarily matched up with Nashville's Legwand-led line; Lewis won the match-up handily.
  • 4th line (Clifford - Fraser - Frattin), F. It's almost unfair to give Fraser or Clifford a grade, as Sutter hardly used them. Frattin played well enough to get significant time elsewhere. Clifford also saw a small bit of time elsewhere. However, Fraser did not. With Linden Vey now on the roster, it's difficult to imagine Fraser playing on Thursday against Buffalo. Fraser was one of just two players to end up underwater in shot attempts. Granted, he didn't get much chance at redemption, but he went just +2/-6 in shot attempts during the game. I did like Frattin's game though. Hopefully Sutter agrees with me this time.

Defensive Pairings

  • 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), B+. I'm curious if Sutter will keep these two together after this game. While they absolutely obliterated their opposition in shot attempts, they were on the ice for all 4 Nashville scoring chances at even strength. I'm hopeful that he keeps them together, I think he should keep them together, but it's the first bump in the road that they've faced as a pairing. I don't know if the chances were their fault, I don't know what Sutter thinks, but them's the facts. I personally thought they were mostly excellent and instrumental in the Kings' dominant territorial performance. Sutter once again deferred to his puck-movers to take defensive zone starts. Doughty was on the ice for 8 of the 15 defensive zone draws for the Kings in the game; Muzzin was on for 7.
  • Voynov went+5/0 in EV chances while Regehr went +4/0. They were territorially dominant, controlling nearly three-quarters of the shot attempts that they were on the ice for.
  • 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), A. This is the type of game I expect from this pairing should it stick together. They received moderately soft minutes and were excellent. Voynov went+5/0 in EV chances while Regehr went +4/0. They were territorially dominant, controlling nearly three-quarters of the shot attempts that they were on the ice for. One odd factoid: of the 5 chances that Voynov was on the ice for, 4 missed the net.
  • 3rd pairing (Mitchell - Greene), C. Purely at 5v5, they weren't bad. While they did get out-shot slightly, they didn't give up any scoring chances against. As I mentioned in my last post, we would find out more about Sutter's intention for this pairing when the opposing team figured out away to filter the puck into the Kings' zone. In spite of getting rolled over possession-wise, Nashville managed to force a small handful of faceoffs in the Kings' end.. Mitchell and Greene often started in the defensive end when Sutter chose to use them. Unfortunately (and obviously, I guess), they didn't create much offense. They were on the ice for just 1 chance at 5v5 play.

Special Teams

  • Power Play, C. Timing is everything in life. The Kings' power play in the 1st period of this game was pitiful at best. You don't see teams fail to enter the zone that often at 5v5 play, let alone on a power play. However, they regrouped in the last 2 periods. Richards was able to pot the game-tying goal in the 3rd after Toffoli skated into the middle of the ice and ripped a shot through Nashville's defense. They've had success in spite of some ugliness lately. Hopefully they can get it together soon or I imagine the poor process will catch up to them.

  • Penalty Kill, F. No way around it. While Nashville only mustered (that sounds like their uniforms) 2 chances with the man advantage, both of those went in the net. Considering that Nashville's first 2 power plays lasted a grand total of 82 seconds, I won't fault them for not racking up scoring chances. Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene were chastised by Sutter for their poor play on the penalty kill.

Jonathan Quick, F

    Quick managed a .200 SV% on scoring chances in the game
  • Again, no way around it. The success rate was too low in this game. While fault can be debated, his numbers were not good enough. 4 goals on 17 shots is not a NHL performance. One thing that was a knock on Jonathan Bernier when he first entered the league was his lack of ability to fight through traffic. Well, it appears to have spread to Quick, as he has fought screens hard this year and found little success. Quick managed a .200 SV% on scoring chances in the game, stopping just 1 of the 5 that found its way to him. I do find him at least partly at fault for the last goal. Rebounds do happen, but they shouldn't settle just a few feet from the crease if it can be avoided. Quick's got enough skill and experience to know better. No, he wasn't as bad as the numbers indicate, but he wasn't good.

Overall Team Performance, B+

  • JT Dutch, Robert and John nailed it in the comments of this post. The Kings win a game played like this the vast majority of the time. Now, we've been saying this a lot lately, but a different problem presented itself on Saturday night, and it's one that concerns me far more than goal-scoring. Jonathan Quick being a below-average goalie would probably not prevent the Kings from making the playoffs, but it would severely damage their hopes to win another Stanley Cup. Whether Quick really is a below-average goalie or not is a question for another day, but the absolute truth is that he has been so far this season and he definitely was one against the Predators. The Kings dominated in every measurable way except goaltending and they lost the game. Life sucks and then you die.

The Numbers

  • Extra Skater
  • Tables below! Look at how darn good Toffoli was.

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