The Kings did a lot of things right, but ultimately let undisciplined play and mistakes cost them in a 3-2 loss against the Predators on Saturday night. Eric has your game recap.
- 1st line (King - Kopitar - Carter), A. They dominated from start to finish. At times, this trio would team up with Drew Doughty's pairing to create a pretty lethal 5-on-5 force. Anze Kopitar was his standard, stellar play-drivin' self. He gained the line with control 6 times to lead the team. The top line went 1-2-3 in scoring chances at even strength and that lines up pretty squarely with some excellent possession numbers. Beastly performance.
- 2nd line (Brown - Stoll - Williams), C+. The Kings owned this game territorially at 5v5 play, so no one received very difficult zone starts. That said, this line's were the toughest, as they were the only forwards to see their O/D Zone Start Percentage dip below 50. They also lined up against Patric Hornqvist, who owns the Kings for some reason. Given their zone starts and competition, their possession numbers look about right. All three were within 1 scoring chance of even. Justin Williams ranked second on the Kings with 5 controlled zone entries, as well.
- 3rd line (Lewis - Richards - Toffoli), D+. Tyler Toffoli turned in another excellent night possession-wise, but did so with average-at-worst minutes. Still, it was the third time in five games that his CF% at 5v5 play eclipsed 70. That's pretty good no matter what the minutes look like. However, his line reverted to an offense-less state, and Tyler himself was actually the only King not on the ice for a scoring chance at 5v5. It's tough to be super positive about this game, but one good thing we can take away is Toffoli's improved play-driving skills. More and more in the past 10 games he's carried the puck into the zone in lieu of dumping it. Tonight he carried in 3 times, which made up 50% of his entry total. Lewis was also better in this regard. Richards' blown coverage on the game winning goal drag the overall grade down a bit.
- 4th line (Clifford - ____ - Nolan), F. The scoring chance numbers weren't pitiful, but Clifford and Nolan got run over in a small sampling of minutes. Both received zero d-zone starts and soft minutes but struggled badly, registering just 2 shot attempts for in more than 7 minutes of ice-time together. Sutter used them sparingly, but they never gave him much reason to play them more. Fresh off an extended break, it was a good night to rely on the top end of the Kings.
- Drew Doughty (A) - Doughty split his time pretty evenly between Jake Muzzin and Willie Mitchell. Didn't much matter who he played with, as he was excellent in this one. Doughty led Kings' defensemen in scoring chances at evens by going +3. He saw difficult zone starts and competition on his way to a near-60% Corsi For rating.
- Alec Martinez (A) - Marty saw both limited and sheltered minutes, but he excelled. He was the only King that didn't allow a single scoring chance against during the game. The only concerning thing about Martinez's game is his usage: Sutter gave him a defense-low 9.3 minutes of even strength time on ice. Not encouraging stuff considering that he's starred in his role as a possession-wizard. Yes, he gets sheltered minutes, but he's succeeding with them.
- Willie Mitchell (A) - Willie's return to the lineup was a mostly successful one. He received arguably the toughest minutes on the team but performed admirably. He wound up ahead in scoring chances and shot attempts by a wide margin.
- Matt Greene (C+) - Not a bad night for the gritty depth defender. The Kings controlled possession with him out there, although I'm not sure how much he had to do with it. He was the only King that didn't register a single zone entry. Even Robyn Regehr had 2. His penalty was misfortune as much as anything - although one has to wonder why anyone even tries over-the-top stickchecks any more. His minutes were limited but he did his job.
- Robyn Regehr (C+) - Pretty much just an average game for Robyn. He didn't make a boneheaded mistake and he didn't get punched square in the noggin. In fact, basically all I thought about Robyn Regehr tonight was how happy I was to not be thinking about Robyn Regehr.
- Jake Muzzin (C-) - In spite of rather sheltered zone starts and competition, Muzzin came out even in scoring chances. His awful habit of taking penalties while other teams try to skate around him continued, as well, after he let his elbow fly in the face of Seth Jones' progress. The best part about this play is that it did nothing to deter the Preds from threatening to score. World class stuff from Muzzin. Thxbud has the succinct summary here.
- Slava Voynov (D) - Similar to Muzzin, Slava Voynov struggled defensively even though he received extremely soft zone starts and competition. In a particularly rough sequence, Voynov turned the puck over in his own zone twice in successio, eventually leading to a Nashville power play. He ended up on the ice for a team-high 6 scoring chances against. He still hasn't completely recovered from a slow start, and most of his issues are still in his own zone. Before tonight, you could chalk up some of his d-zone struggles to tough minutes. However, this is a troubling game and overall trend for a player the Kings have been able to rely on to slog tough minutes in the past.
- Power Play, B. Mild success. The first power play was clinical. The second wasn't. They generated 2 chances in 2.8 minutes of power play time, which is acceptable.
- Penalty Kill, C. The biggest problem for the penalty kill continues to be the frequency with which we see it. Los Angeles currently boasts the second-worst penalty time differential in the league. They have the third-most shorthanded minutes in the league. I honestly wonder if some of their struggles at suppressing shots are merely a result of repeated use. It's just a guess, but I'd guess that their peripheral numbers (shots, scoring chances) would look prettier if we were seeing them less. While they've experienced success, far too much of it has been the result of unsustainable play by Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones. They've been a merely average team at suppressing shots. We've seen the PK look excellent in enough bursts for me to think that they'd be able to string more success together if they weren't being abused.
Ben Scrivens, F
- I'd have to guess that this was his worst performance as a King. Both of the last two goals were must-haves; he even got two cracks at the game winner. This basically struck me like 2013 Jon Quick performance. The team dominates territorially and watches their goalie fail to come up with the big save. Though each was goal was counted as a chance, Scrivens has to come up with the puck. That makes two straight shaky performances for Scrivens, although both were under less than ideal circumstances.
Overall Team Performance, C.
- The way I see it, this game travels two roads. The Kings did most things well. They dominated the neutral zone and owned the puck. They saw some success on the power play. They were pretty good at 5v5 play. They did enough to earn a win. However, they made enough mistakes (penalties, breakdowns, breakdowns after taking penalties, goaltending) to make losing seem like a pretty just result, too. Nashville didn't have a whole lot in the tank, but they made their strongest push in the 3rd period and the Kings buckled.
- Extra Skater
- NEW: zone entry numbers. I should be able to get these up with most games from now on. We'll probably do another season recap during the Olympic break. Until then, feel free to ask questions either in the comments or on twitter or whatever. Whatever floats your boat, ya'll.
- I can't remember if Robert can get the matchup Corsi for this game or not. SUSPENSE!!!!