Welcome to Part 2 of our series preview. Now we're going to take a close look at how these teams stacked up in the possession battle.
First, it should be noted that all of these games were close. All but one ended up as one-goal games, and the lone exception was a 2-0 win for LA. Thus, score effects didn't play a huge role in these numbers. Also, the Kings scored first in all but one game.
If you're unfamiliar with possession and why it matters, read this great primer by our very own Niesy here.
Let's get into the charts:
- The Kings edged Phoenix in the overall battle 55%-45%.
- The Kings' line construction was fairly consistent over these games, while Phoenix's were in a state of flux. Some of this was due to injuries, but another factor was not starting the season with players with clearly defined roles.
- The sole positive for Phoenix was their first line. This consisted of a mix of lines centered by Langkow and Hanzal. It was actually the games that the L1 was centered by Langkow that Phoenix was able to score a positive rating, not Hanzal. Langkow's line mates in those games were Doan, Whitney and Boedker. Phoenix's first line was mainly matched against the Kings first line (previous post on deployment).
- The Kings' most dominant line was their 3rd. They weren't held in check by the Coyotes defensive-minded 3rd line, and were the difference in the season series.
- Both Martinez and Yandle are used similarly. They play soft competition and receive a lot of favorable zone starts. In the season series Martinez was able to help the team along while being put in primarily offensive roles, while Yandle was unable to have the same effect.
- The biggest worry for Phoenix has got to be the play of their bottom 6. They definitely now have since received a boost from the acquisition of Vermette. This has freed up Langkow to get soft minutes in the bottom 6 and he has been very effective in driving the play as well as generating offense. This is one big key to the series. If the Kings can hold Phoenix's bottom 6 in check as they did in the regular season they should be able to advance. If Langkow, on the other hand, is able to boost their depth lines and continues to generate offense, then the Kings could be in trouble (given Mike Smith's ability to keep games close).
Next let's see how players matched up head-to-head:
(Green=dominating possession battle relative to teammates, Yellow=in between, Red=losing)
- I chose the Coyotes above as representatives of their expected lines in the upcoming series. Doan is being centered by Vermette on the 2nd line, Korpikorski (when healthy) is being centered by Gordon on the 3rd. Gordon missed some games against the Kings due to injury so there is limited data on him. Korpikorski and Doan played in all Kings games and have the most data among the representatives of their current lines.
- Hanzal only saw significant time against Kopitar, Doughty and Mitchell (he missed some time due injury). In those minutes the Kings were able to come out ahead. Doughty recorded a glowing 58.8%, a great sign for the Kings.
- Doan was their best forward against LA this season. He was mainly centered by Langkow but is now centered by Vermette. His FACorsi% with Langkow was 53% and since being centered by Vermette it has stayed at a consistent 54%. It will be really interesting to see what matchup this line draws and how they fair. Another huge key to the series.
- Another interesting takeaway is how poorly Ekman-Larsson fared. Kopitar drove play at a dominant 60%, while Matt Greene and Alec Martinez were even more dominant on the back-end.
- The only advantage Phoenix was able to exploit was Yandle and Klesla versus Richards. the Kings now have Carter to boost that line. Will that change things?
Finally, let's take a look at how players have been used along with their Corsi results in one neat package:
- The big red dots mean a player is doing great (+Corsi relative to teammates), the big white dots means he is sucking (-Corsi relative to teammates). The more they're on the left, the more they've been put in defensive situations and on the right, offensive situations. The further North, the harder the competition they've faced, and softer competetion to the South.
- These come with an assist from Rob Vollman and Eric T. Check out the great usage spreadsheet Rob created here. It also contains more in depth explanations should you need it.
- Versions of these for the regular season as well: Kings Coyotes
- Both teams 4th lines have been given sheltered minutes and have had success. What will happen should they face each other?
- Korpikorski, Gordon have done the heavily lifting for PHX and have struggled. For LA the heavily lifting has been done by Penner-Richards-Carter. While they've found success on the score sheet, they have been consistently successful in driving play given their difficult assignments.
- The difference between how Ekman-Larsson and Yandle are used if well illustrated here (as well as on the regular season chart).
- The Kings are sheltering Martinez and he continues to excel in that role.