While it's still just December, it's pretty easy to point to this as a fairly important game given what faces the Kings in about 24 hours. The Blackhawks will welcome the Kings to Chicago, and even with... well, whoever they wind up starting in goal, they're a dominant hockey team. The Kings got on the board early and, eventually, often to beat the Senators 5-2.
Eric will have the recap for you shortly.
- 1st line (King - Kopitar - Carter), A-. Efficiency, that's what we'll call it. Dwight King threw the first shot of the game past Craig Anderson and the Kings never really looked back. Well, maybe for a few minutes, but that's it. King, Carter, and Kopitar all notched a goal and two assists (and perhaps deserved a little more) in the game and did a lot of it at 5v5 play. Their possession numbers weren't excellent, but the game was only close (in the "official" sense) for 4.3 minutes. Everyone's possession numbers should've taken a beating, and most did. In spite of those middling-at-best possession numbers, each member of the top line came out a positive in scoring chances. Jeff Carter notched 4 scoring chances on his own while both King and Kopitar factored into 2 of their own. They did that with moderately difficult zone starts, though MacLean didn't hard-match anyone against them.
- 2nd line (Brown - Stoll - Williams), A. The second tier of the Kings' top six also excelled in Ottawa, with -- probably -- a better performance than the top line. Unfortunately, they didn't get their just deserts. Well, except Stoll, but he can thank Doughty's herculean effort for that one. At any rate, this line dominated. They blew away the top six of the Senators in a score effected game, and did so without the benefit of easy zone starts. Williams, Stoll, and Brown went 1-2-3 in possession on the team and made up 75% of the players that bested the 50% Corsi For mark.
- 3rd line (Clifford - Richards - Toffoli), F. ...Then there's the bottom six. Reversing the performance of the second line, the third line controlled less than 20% of shot attempts, which is probably a season-worst for any line that the Kings have thrown out there. Their minutes weren't easy, but not too difficult to overcome since there wasn't much hard-matching going on. Mike Richards' half breakaway made up the only scoring chance that any player in the bottom six (or defense core, for that matter) even factored in to at even strength. All three forwards were +1/-4 in chances. Basically, they struggled all over the ice.
4th line (Carcillo - Lewis - Nolan), F. In case you forgot, Trevor Lewised lines don't do a whole lot. Nothing changed while he sat on injured reserve, and the Kings got outplayed pretty thoroughly with him on the ice on Saturday afternoon. He went -5 in scoring chances at evens and got badly out-shot in spite of being eased back into things to an extent. Both his competition and zone starts were neutral and the Kings still controlled just 21.1% of shot attempts with him on the ice. Carcillo and Nolan fared a bit better, albeit in slightly fewer minutes.
- 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), A. Again, the skilled players of the Kings really shined in Ottawa. Doughty and Muzzin were the only pairing to come out above water in both scoring chances and shot attempts in the game. Doughty set up Jarret Stoll's insurance goal with an enthralling rush up the ice that only got stunted well enough to allow Stoll to tap a loose puck into the net. Muzzin had himself a pretty steady game defensively to go with that. They received rather harsh minutes, so their already-decent numbers look even more encouraging. Very strong game.
- 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), C-. Voynov's run of arduous minutes finally came to an end, though it isn't bared out in his performance numbers. His zone starts and competition were both fairly neutral, but his pairing got hemmed in its own zone a bit too often. Regehr fared slightly better than Voynov in shot attempts and chances, but neither had a night to write home about. Not going to be too harsh on them because of score effects, but it wasn't a grand game for them.
- 3rd pairing (Mitchell - Martinez), F. Not a good night for this pairing, and it all looks worse when you realize Mitchell left the game with an upper-body injury. Nothing was very positive even before he left, though, as the Kings got worked over with both players on the ice. Each was a decided minus in scoring chances and an even more decided minus in possession. Their minutes were pretty neutral too. Again, score effects, whatever. They weren't very good.
- Power Play, C. Third straight game with a power play goal. Things must be looking up, right? Eh. They were bound for some good fortune, and that's all this looks like right now. They're still struggling to enter the zone and they didn't create many shot attempts in this game. They still have quite a bit of work to do to get to a point where I'd consider them a true threat, but I'll take some positive results in the mean time.
- Penalty Kill, A. Another very strong effort from the PK. They allowed just 6 shot attempts in 6 minutes of 5-on-4 play and the power play near the end of the game was meaningless. Good stuff.
Martin Jones, B.
- He was pretty good. The numbers look alright, for sure, as he had both a .929 SV% on scoring chances and a .935 SV% at 5v5 play. That said, the second goal was a stinker that shouldn't beat a NHL goalie. If this was Toronto, about 30 articles would already have been written decrying a poor glove-hand. Thankfully it isn't, and we can just move on with a W and another strong goaltending performance.
Overall Team Performance, A
- Repeating a refrain I've uttered before: if you win by a large margin, you've done something right more often than not. Saturday in Ottawa wasn't any different. The Fenwick chart (available on Extra Skater, link below) shows score effects clearly taking the game over after the 3rd Los Angeles goal. Even after Ottawa took the game over, the Kings weren't bad defensively. Though Ottawa occasionally got in the scoring area to take some shots, the Kings very rarely broke down or blew coverage to leave men wide open in a dangerous spot. They did well to soften the blow against Martin Jones, who wasn't forced to do anything spectacular to hold them in the game.
- Player Power Rankings VI: Ups, Downs, and a New Number One
- Discussion: Would You Have Started Martin Jones Yesterday?
- Kings @ Maple Leafs Recap: Jones Shines, Kings Come Through Late for 3-1 Win
- History Lesson: Wayne Gretzky high-sticks Doug Gilmour on the path to victory.
- Game Day #33: Kings @ Senators Preview