Oilers @ Kings: Grades and Analysis

A wild Dwight King stalks his next meal - Harry How

Deck the Hall with blows to the body.

Maybe it wasn't as cathartic as I would have liked (three or four more goals next time, please), but the Kings took it to the Oilers for most of Tuesday night's affair. Eric has the game recap here.

Forward Lines

  • 1st line (King - Kopitar - Carter), B+. We may not be completely sold on Dwight King, but his performance has remained steady. King added another goal to his season total, his ninth of the season. Some noise has been made of his lofty shooting percentage (which now stands at 16.3% if you take out his ENG), it has drifted down a bit in recent days and he's continued to be effective. Quite frankly, even if he slows down and picks up just 10-15 points for the rest of the season, I'd be pretty thrilled. I also suspect that if he plays such a prominent role that he won't pick up such a paltry amount of points. He's no playmaker, but his ability to pick up garbage around the net is an asset to a pair of players that are already good play-drivers. I want Williams back on Kopitar's wing, but I have no issue with King there for the time being. If his play noticeably slips then there's an army of replacements behind him. As for the line itself, they had a strong night. They received rather tough minutes, starting most of their shifts in the defensive zone and seeing Taylor Hall's line a majority of the game. They gave up a few too many chances, but they were awfully effective offensively.

  • 2nd line (Brown - Stoll - Williams), B. Contrary to the top line, this line got rather easy zone starts. However, their competition was stiff as they faced Ales Hemsky's line. Hemsky & co. had a pretty strong night, so the fact that all three players were positives in shot attempts and scoring chances is nice. This line has some trouble throwing together a "complete" game though. Some nights they control possession, but don't generate much offense. Other nights they create a bunch of offense without dominating possession. Last night falls more into the latter category. All three were on the ice for at least 4 scoring chances. Williams and Stoll led all forwards by going +2 in chances at evens, while Brown pulled in at +1. Dustin Brown created a pair of chances (not counting EN) to lead the trio.

  • 3rd line (Lewis - Richards - Toffoli), A-. While they received the softest zone starts on the team, they were forced to square off with the Perron/Gagner/Yakupov line for most of their night. Facing any David Perron line is always going to be a challenge, and this year is no exception. He's been the best possession player on the Oilers. However, Tuesday belonged to the Kings, and that extends all the way down to the 3rd line. Considering the ice-time totals, the results are pretty staggering. The line controlled basically 75% of all shot attempts. Toffoli and Lewis generated close to 2 shot attempts per minute for the Kings. In turn, they allowed next to nothing against. They tilted the ice toward Ilya Bryzgalov and never really let their collective foot off the gas. Unfortunately, they didn't turn all of that possession into tangible offense. The trio created just a pair of chances and didn't get a goal. Still a very strong night.

  • 4th line (Nolan - Vey - Frattin), C. Early on, I noted that Matt Frattin seemed to have a purpose to his game. He was on the puck, winning footraces and board battles and generally making himself a presence on the ice. Unfortunately, much like his last return to the lineup, that dissipated throughout the rest of the game. While neither him or Linden Vey were active detriments to the team, they probably need to be more actively involved if Sutter is going to continue to give them minutes. As impressed as I have been with Linden Vey's ability to gain the zone with control, he hasn't been exhibiting that skill nearly as often in his most recent games. It started before he initially left the lineup, too, so I'm pretty sure that's what Sutter sees. With all of that said, this line controlled shot attempts against the Oilers in rather soft minutes. Though Mark Arcobello has been something of a revelation for the Oilers possession-wise, Ryan Jones and Luke Gazdic have not. That was the most common matchup for Vey's line, and Linden came out on top by a small margin. Nolan was the only of the trio to break even in scoring chances.

Defensive Pairings

  • 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), B+. In a bizarre role reversal, Jake Muzzin received less sheltered zone starts than his more talented comrade. Both of them, however, received very tough minutes. They started most of their shifts in the defensive zone and spent most of their time trying to defend Taylor Hall. In spite of that, the Kings were able to dominate possession with the top pairing on the ice. Drew Doughty was very active offensively and set up the game winning goal with a series of flashy plays in the first period. They gave up a few too many scoring chances, but it was a strong game overall.

  • 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), C. Perhaps realizing that he's basically been torturing Slava Voynov for about two weeks, Sutter gave the second pairing significantly softer minutes than they were receiving on the road trip. In spite of that, they scuffled a bit. They were out-chanced and came out closer to even in shot attempts than they should've been. They weren't bad at all though, and I wonder if they're feeling more fatigue than the rest of the team. Still, it's hard not to be a little disappointed when you view this game in a vacuum.

  • 3rd pairing (Martinez - Greene), A. Since Sutter softened the second pairing's minutes, those tougher minutes found a new home with the third pairing. Receiving neutral zone starts and difficult competition, they had considerable success. The pairing led Kings' d-men in scoring chance +/- and controlled 58.8% of shot attempts (both were +20/-14). Strong night, especially considering the circumstances.

Special Teams: Do I really need to spell this out for you

  • Probably not. The PP kinda sucked and the PK was strong. Fortunately, perhaps in both regards, most of the game was played at 5v5. The PP generated a few more shot attempts than they have been, but they weren't of any particular danger. The PK surrendered strong pressure to the Oilers, but did an absolutely excellent job of clogging lanes and preventing shots from getting through. The Oilers also seemed to pass up a few prime shooting opportunities, giving the Kings more help than they really needed.

Martin Jones, A.

  • No question that he earned this one. The Kings may have dominated on the whole, but they had some sketchy moments. Jones has been able to withstand those moments, though. Much like the first period in Montreal, Jones held up through a barrage from the Oilers to begin the second period. The Oilers notched 5 chances in the first eight minutes of the period and an additional 3 in the final six minutes, but there was Jones. He made every save that you'd expect and maybe a couple that you wouldn't.

Overall Team Performance, A-.

  • So ends a rather hellish stretch for the Kings. Starting with their back-to-back in Montreal and Toronto last Tuesday and Wednesday, the Kings capped off their fifth game in eight nights in style, earning 8 of 10 points. No, the competition wasn't of the top shelf variety, but any time a stretch of condensed hockey (made worse by ridiculous travel) is met with such success, the team has earned some praise. Not much rest for the wicked, though, as they get just a single day off before taking on the Sharks. In fact, they'll continue alternating games with days off until the Christmas break. Only then will they get to enjoy some well-earned rest.

The Numbers

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