After starting their four-game road trip with a frustrating shootout loss, the Kings won their next three. On Sunday, Tyler Toffoli provided the lone Kings goal while Ben Scrivens and another excellent defensive performance made it stand.
Eric has the game recap here.
1st line (Brown - Kopitar - Williams), A+. The Kings' top line continued its run of strong play with their best game of the season. Sutter gave them fairly easy zone starts and they feasted. Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault rolled Derick Brassard's line against Kopitar's most often, although, bizarrely, Brassard individually saw about 4 more minutes against Kopitar than any other Rangers forward. He also tried to get Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi out there as often as possible. The top line responded by controlling 70+% of the shot attempts while on the ice. Kopitar led the team by going +8/0 in scoring chances. Dustin Brown individually registered 5 scoring chances. Thoroughly impressive night.
- 2nd line (King - Richards - Toffoli), A. The second line completed a strong night for the Kings' top-six. While they didn't dominate offensively in the fashion that the top line did, they were excellent defensively. Vigneault went after them with his top line a fair portion of the night and this line didn't allow a scoring chance against. Sutter chose to shelter Toffoli a bit, starting him in the defensive zone just twice (compared to 5 d-zone starts for Richards).
- 3rd line (Carcillo - Stoll - Frattin), A. In spite of being utterly buried under tough zone starts, this line excelled in possession and scoring chances. Stoll was on an upswing before he got injured, and he's continued his improved play in his two games since returning. This line saw a lot of New York's top-six as well, making their healthy shot attempt (Stoll had the line's "poorest" performance at +14/-8) and scoring chance (+5/-2) totals even more impressive.
- 4th line (Pearson - Vey - Lewis), F. I softened the blow against them a little in my analysis of the New Jersey game because it was a back to back and the Devils are a sneaky good possession team (53.2% fenwick close). The Rangers are a merely average possession team, however, and they (more specifically Tanner Pearson) had a chance to gather their bearings between games. Didn't help. Vey and Pearson both received zero defensive zone starts and middling competition, and they both got run over. The three of them were the only players on the team to control under 50% of shot attempts and scoring chances while they were on the ice, and it wasn't even close. Vey had the best performance at...28.6%. They generated zero offense on the shot attempts they actually registered as well (0/-3 EV chances). Not a good night for the kids.
- 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), B. Sutter gave the top pairing the toughest d-zone starts on the team, a shift in direction after giving those zone starts to Voynov and Regehr in previous games. While they received a fair share of o-zone starts as well, they succeeded for the most part. Sutter didn't protect Muzzin as intensely as he has on this road trip, and the pairing responded by going +6/-4 in chances and controlling a slight majority of shot attempts. While the 4 chances against is quite a bit (especially considering that the Rangers only had 5 chances at evens), they mitigated that by not preventing their forwards from creating offense. This pairing also got the most minutes with the kid line on the defense.
- 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), A. As mentioned above, Sutter gave this pairing significantly easier zone starts than they had been receiving. They responded by winning possession (58%) and badly outchancing their opposition (+5/-1). Vigneault chose not to attack this pairing with his top-six as much as other coaches had been. Regehr has appeared better to the eye lately, and while he still made a play or two that made me cringe, his improvement was beared out in the numbers against New York.
- 3rd pairing (Mitchell - Martinez), A. Though Sutter gave them minutes so tender that they just fall off the bone, they so completely controlled possession and scoring chances that 'A' is the only grade they could possibly get. Both players were +5/0 in scoring chances and Martinez led the team by controlling 80% of the shot attempts while he was out there. Martinez also registered 2 scoring chances of his own.
- Power Play, F/INC. They both generated and allowed a chance in their lone opportunity. Annoyingly, the Kings never got the power play opportunity they seemed to be owed after a whiffed delay of game call on Trevor Lewis. New York played a disciplined game that didn't really require a call against, though.
- Penalty Kill, A-. Though New York had a dominant power play in the first period, they failed to do much with a bevy of opportunities in the second period and it cost them the game. The Kings withstood a long sequence of penalty killing, allowing just 3 chances against in that stretch. An impressive feat given that a portion of it was at 5v3 and it's hard to hold up with that much time under the gun. Though the underlying numbers weren't amazing, the results were excellent and I think the process was mostly worthy of praise.
Ben Scrivens, A.
- He was everything the Kings needed. Though he was rarely stressed to an extreme extent, he withstood all of the pressure he faced and didn't cost the Kings the game.
Overall Team Performance, A.
- No question about this one. At times the Kings have exerted pressure on their opponents without generating much in the way of a threatening offensive attack. That was not the case against Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers. The Kings penetrated the scoring area, attacked the crease and generated lots of should-have-been goals that were instead replaced by great saves or unfortunate luck. The Kings outchanced the Rangers 16-5 at even strength. Almost certainly their most dominant performance of the season in that regard.
- Extra Skater
- As I mentioned previously, we should have a complete scoring chance and zone entry season review (through this game) up in the next couple of days.
- Tables below.