Defensive miscues allowed Tampa Bay to skate past the Kings. Eric has the game recap here.
- 1st line (Brown - Kopitar - Williams), Grade: F. For one of the few times that I can remember, the Anze Kopitar line did not see the top line of the other team. Almost literally. Kopitar drew the Stamkos/St. Louis/Malone line just 5% of the time and it worked out to the huge benefit of Tampa Bay. First off, it freed up TB's top line to run amok on LA's other three lines. Secondly, the line that Lightning head coach Jon Cooper DID match with Kopitar's turned in a respectable performance, keeping Kopitar's line at bay. The top line of the Kings saw Richard Panik/Alex Killorn/Valtteri Filppula a majority of the time and didn't dominate as you would expect them to. Williams and Brown came up slight positives in shot attempts, while Kopitar (in a game that should have and did end up tilting toward LA due to score effects) ended up underwater. Unfortunately, even if we operate under the assumption that the Killorn line is some elite, defensive, play-driving machine, the Kopitar line didn't do anything away from them either.
- 2nd line (King - Richards - Carter), Grade D. Here's the line that got the Stamkos treatment. On the bright side, they came out even against Stamkos in shot attempts. Unfortunately, that's about the extent of the positives for this line. After having some much quieter defensive nights the previous three games, this line struggled to contain the Stamkos line or anyone else. The only mitigating factor for this line is that the Kings' defensemen had weak nights almost across the board. Still, not a great night.
- 3rd line (Clifford - Lewis/Stoll - Frattin), Grade: B. Probably the best game this line has played recently. Before getting into that, two notes: First, Sutter actually used this line much more like a 4th line than he had prior to tonight. Clifford and Frattin (and eventually Stoll) saw team lows in 5v5 ice-time and were matched up mainly with the Tampa's 4th line. Sutter also (as noted in the line combos) swapped out Lewis for Stoll late in the second period. More on that momentarily. Lewis also ended up even in shot attempts in the game, while Frattin and Clifford were positives. Ultimately it was another quiet night for this line, but it was a much more effective quiet night; Frattin was rewarded with an assist on Voynov's goal.
- 4th line (Carcillo - Stoll/Lewis - Nolan), Grade: F. Here's where Jon Cooper staying away from the Stamkos/Kopitar matchup paid off. This line saw the Stamkos line more than it saw any other and obviously didn't handle it well. I believe that this shows the true intentions of Sutter's line shuffle. He put his more capable defensive forward with Nolan and Carcillo in hopes of slowing some of the bleeding. It worked out about as well as you could have hoped, which was... still not great. Lewis allowed just 1 more chance to Stamkos for the rest of the game, but this line was also on the ice for the late goal by Ondrej Palat (and the other chance that immediately preceded that goal). Even though this line received its soft zone starts, it failed to win the possession battle. The Carcillo/Stoll/Nolan line was on the ice for both of the early breakaways for the Stamkos line. It's a smart tactical move by Cooper since it worked out. However, had the Kings' top line been able to play the strong game that it normally does, this move probably doesn't look so hot (nor does Cooper go to it so often). Also worth noting that Carcillo took a penalty and also was a team-worst -4 in EV chance differential.
- 1st pairing (Regehr - Doughty), Grade: F. I'm not sure I've ever seen a pairing play so poorly that conspiracy theories were spawned as a result. I think that's about all that needs to be noted. Here's some more anyway: Doughty again looked more involved offensively (even early, before the game got out of hand), but obviously the pairing -- Doughty more noticeably what with the early turnover and all -- was a mess in its own end tonight. Doughty leaked scoring chances all night long.
- 2nd pairing (Mitchell - Voynov), Grade: B-. In spite of some early shakiness, this pairing was on the ice for more Kings' possession than any other. Voynov logged a team-high (by far) in ice-time and was the best Kings' defenseman corsi-wise. Still, Voynov was cleanly beaten by Teddy Purcell in the first period and still just isn't quite all there. He's making progress, but it is just that -- progress. He has a way to go still. Mitchell does too. As Sutter's strategy evolved later in the game, Voynov saw more time away from Mitchell, which explains why Voynov's chance differential ended up being a team-high +2. Voynov did recoup his losses by scoring a goal in the third, but it was far too little, far too late for the Kings.
- 3rd pairing (Martinez - Greene), Grade: C. In all honesty, one could use a lot of what I just said about the 2nd pairing again about the 3rd. Martinez and Greene were apart from each other more often as the game wore on in an attempt to create offense, which explains the discrepancy in their possession and chance differentials. However, Mitchell experienced moderate success against similar competition while Greene got beaten. It would appear that Cooper's strategy to attack the depth of the Kings extended to defensemen, as Greene saw Stamkos just as often as he saw Nate Thompson.
- Power Play, Grade: B. While the power play didn't score a goal over their many chances while the game was in the balance, I'm going to give a ton of credit to Ben Bishop here. The Kings registered 7 chances in 5 power plays, which is pretty good. A far sight better than the poor showings from the previous two games. They also didn't allow any chances, which is expected but has been a slight nagging problem in recent games.
- Penalty Kill, Grade: A. No goals allowed against a pretty deadly group that Tampa can throw out there. Just 2 chances allowed in 3 TB PP opportunities. Good game, though it was hard to notice as it happened.
- Jonathan Quick, Grade: C+. Quick wasn't bad, but you're rarely going to sell me on a guy that allows 3 goals on 17 shots. Only 1 of those goals could reasonably be deemed his fault, and he did stop 2 breakaways. Still. 3 goals on 17 shots.
- Ben Scrivens, Grade: C/INC. He faced just 7 shots, but allowed his first 2 goals against of the season. Once again, hard to fault him on them, but it's 5 goals on 7 shots. Oddly, every single shot that he faced was a scoring chance. Well, not oddly. There's actually been a lot of discussion on shot quality in score effected games lately. Thanks Toronto. At any rate, it's not really surprising that the team pushing the play with more risky offensive zone behavior gave up a ton of high quality chances relative to the amount of shots that the other team took. Still. Talk about being thrown into the frying pan.
Overall Team Grade: F
Most of the time, teams don't lose games 5-1 by sheer bad luck. The Kings were an extremely poor defensive team tonight. Every single defenseman can look at a play or three or five in this game and say, "I probably should've have done just about anything else here." That coupled with Jon Cooper's genius-by-results line-deployment strategy provides a pretty large meltdown for LA. If teams choose to copy Cooper's strategy, it's going to be up to the Kopitar line to take advantage of their softer matchup. There's no excuse for Val Filppula, Alex Killorn and Richard Panik to keep Kopitar's line as well in check as they did. Kopitar's line has to make the opposing coach look bad or that coach can just use his most skilled players to run over LA's mediocre depth. I'm not sure what more Sutter can do when this happens. His adjustment to put Lewis on the Nolan line worked out as well as you could have expected. This one's on the players. Kopitar has to come through.
- Extra Skater (if you ever wanted to see what score effects really look like, take note as the Kings' fenwick total takes off after the 2nd TB goal)
- Scoring chances and matchup corsi below. Click to enlarge.