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Coyotes vs. Kings WCF Game 4 Possession and Deployment Breakdown (or Are We There Yet?)

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Game 4 seemed like a flight delay before a long awaited vacation. You had the feeling this was going to happen eventually. Mike Smith was going to have a game where the idea of scoring a goal would seem futile. After the first goal, this one had "Coyote Ugly" written all over it.

This wasn't for a lack of effort on the Kings part. They had their most dominant puck possession performance since Game 1 (although to be fair some of that was to due with the Coyotes jumping out to a lead and the Kings having to play catch up).

Let's see how the numbers brokedown:

    Line Matching Heat Map

  • The Hanzal line saw limited time due to injury (and probably as well as ineffectiveness). Tippett confirmed in his post game presser that Hanzal missed a stretch due to injury, although his wingers didn't end up seeing very much more time in his absence. As a consequence, they saw 3rd line minutes and are represented as L3 above. The line had their most woeful game of the series (15.1% ZSAC*) and were rolled pretty evenly against the entire Kings line-up.
  • The Stoll line had their first "off" game in a while. They were matched almost exactly evenly across all 4 lines while seeing a lot of Klesla-Aucoin (50.5% ITA**).
  • Probably the most interesting takeaway from the charts is the fact that the Fraser line was hard matched against the Vermette line (L1) and they performed extremely well (71.9% ZSAC). This bodes well for the Kings going forward as, with the Hanzal line struggling with injuries and performance, their are seemingly not any matchups for the Coyotes to exploit.
  • The Oliver Ekman-Larsson pairing had their best performance of the series (56.8% ZSAC). They were matched mainly against Kopitar and both came out with positive ratings. It is reasonable to surmise from this that Ekman-Larsson was very dominant when not matched against Kopitar.
  • Contrary to what some local beat writers may have written post game, the Kings were absolutely good enough to win this one. The Kings out shot-attempted the Coyotes 51-38 at even strength and of those 51 only 5 were blocked. 83% of their 36 total shots on goal came from below the perimeter. Give the Coyotes credit, they played a gutsy game under very difficult circumstances, but they cannot continue to play like this and expect to reverse sweep the Kings.

Even Strength Line Combinations:

Kings Forwards:

  • L1 = Brown-Kopitar-Williams
  • L2 = Penner-Richards-Carter
  • L3 = King-Stoll-Lewis
  • L4 = Clifford-Richardson-Nolan

Kings Defense:

  • D1 = Scuderi-Doughty
  • D2 = Mitchell-Voynov
  • D3 = Martinez-Greene

Coyotes Forwards:

  • L1 = Boedker-Vermette-Doan
  • L2 = Korpikoski-Langkow-Pyatt
  • L3 = Whitney-Hanzal-Vrbata
  • L4 = Pouliot-Gordon-Chipchura

Coyotes Defense:

  • D1 = Yandle-Morris
  • D2 = Rozival-Ekman-Larsson
  • D3 = Klesla-Aucoin
* - Shots attempted and even strength adusted for zone starts.
**- Even strength ice time against.

Others in the series: Preview, Game 1, Game 2, and Game 3.

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