Some have been resting part of the blame of the Kings' two game skid at the feet of Simon Gagne being in the line-up over Brad Richardson. Since he has been in the line-up, the fourth line's numbers have improved both in possession and scoring chances.
In the first two games of the final, Brad Richardson was -3 in shot attempts and -3 in scoring chances. In Gagne's 3 games he has been +10 in attempts and +6 in scoring chances. In addition Gagne's ice time has increased in each game and he even saw 3 minutes of ice time with the top line in Game 5. This would be a sign that the staff feels like he's in pretty good game shape.
Simon Gagne being currently in the line-up is making the Kings a better team.
Now, let's take a closer look at the numbers for Game 5:
- The Kopitar line had a dominant game matched mainly against the Henrique line and the Fayne/Greene pairing.
- The only line that graded out positive for the Devils was their top line. All other NJD lines were woeful in the possession battle.
- The Kings' 3rd line had a great game and spent most of their time matched against the Devils top 6 (note: I'm considering the Henrique line "top 6" over the Elias line due to more ice time and harder matchups).
- Every defensive pairing graded out positive. The most positive of which was the Martinez/ Greene pair. Alec Martinez is +13 in scoring chances for the Stanley Cup Final.
- Overall the Kings won the possession battle by a wide margin even when the numbers are adjusted for their copious amounts of offensive zone faceoffs. A good sign that they aren't petering out or resting on their laurels. They are still the same team that has won 15 games this post-season (maybe even better with the addition of Simon Gagne). I vote for even more limos, more "porn stars" (or how about even one real one?) behind the bench, and more shifts for Gagne in Game 6.
- The Kings have only scored 1 goal in each of the last two losses. Martin Brodeur has played very well, the Devils' defensive depth has improved with the addition of Henrik Tallinder. So give the Devils credit for that. That being said the odds are stacked heavily against them being able to win four games in row while being consistently out-possessed and out-chanced. The Kings have out-chanced the Devils 87-67 thus far in the Stanley Cup Final.
- The Richards line had a pretty awful game. They saw most of their time against a the Tallinder/Zidlicky pairing which looked like the best game any Devils' defensive pairing has had yet in the series.
- Despite the obvious bad luck of a couple goals going in off Slava Voynov in the series, the Mitchell/Voynov pair has been the only unit which has been consistently out-chanced (Voynov -14, Mitchell -9). Most of that has been from Games 2 and 3. They have looked better over the last 2 games (Voynov +9 Shot Attempts). They are going to need to continue that trend into tonight in order to help the Kings end it.
Even Strength Line Combinations:
- L1 = Brown-Kopitar-Williams
- L2 = Penner-Richards-Carter
- L3 = King-Stoll-Lewis
- L4 = Gagne-Fraser-Nolan
- D1 = Scuderi-Doughty
- D2 = Mitchell-Voynov
- D3 = Martinez-Greene
- L1 = Parise-Zajac-Kovalchuk
- L2 = Clarkson-Henrique-Ponikarovsky
- L3 = Zubrus-Eilas-Sykora
- L4 = Carter-Gionta-Bernier
- D1 = Tallinder-Zidlicky
- D2 = Volchenkov-Salvador
- D3 = Greene-Fayne