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Sharks @ Kings: Grades and Analysis

I'm actually very pro-Niemi.

What you gonna do when King comes for you?
What you gonna do when King comes for you?
Victor Decolongon

The Kings and Sharks combined for five goals and the home team won. Color me surprised. Eric has your game recap here.

Forward Lines

  • 1st line (King - Kopitar - Williams), A. Kopitar went toe-to-toe with Logan Couture on Thursday night. While he didn't win the shot attempt battle against Couture, we can grant him some slack given the score. Though the Kings have seemed to reject the concept of score effects lately, they still exist. Kopitar's line owned over 60% of shot attempts even though they lost their main matchup by a slim margin. Also, Dwight King. What the hell was that?

  • 2nd line (Brown - Stoll - Williams), C. Tough sledding, that's the best way to put it. Hard to have high expectations for them after Brown went down. They received soft zone starts, but squared off with Joe Thornton for most of their night. Thornton worked them over pretty hard. In fact, Thornton's line was the only to give the Kings much trouble at all, as the Kings rolled over the rest of the Sharks pretty thoroughly. Though they had some of the worst possession numbers on the team, they were still above water (well, Brown wasn't, but he left early).

  • 3rd line (Lewis - Richards - Toffoli), B. Tyler Toffoli is turning into a possession monster. Though he had a rough three game stretch on the road trip, some of that can be attributed to score effects and some of that belongs to fatigue. The Kings have controlled more than 60% of shot attempts with him on the ice in six of his past nine games. Thursday's numbers are especially impressive considering that he easily beat his primary linemates. Lewis and Richards played closer to even in shot attempts while the Kings controlled a staggering 71.4% of shot attempts with Toffoli on the ice. His zone starts and competition were not sheltered, although he did receive extra minutes with other players in an effort to get Richards some rest after some extended special teams time. Among players with at least 19 games played, Toffoli is 10th in the league in CF% in all 5v5 situations. He's had some luck so far (107.8 PDO, t-2nd in the league), but his possession numbers make him a force anyway.

  • 4th line (Clifford - Fraser - Nolan), B. The fourth line played its role to perfection, taking advantage of soft minutes to dominate possession. Unfortunately, they didn't create much offense, but they were extremely effective anyway. The Kings controlled around 75% of all shot attempts with this trio on the ice.

Defensive Pairings

  • 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), C-. For a second consecutive game, Jake Muzzin received ever-so-slightly less sheltered zone starts than Doughty; both saw average zone starts, though. Considering that, it doesn't make me too happy to see that they had real trouble containing the Thornton line. Thornton put a significant ding in their possession numbers, although the Kings still came out well ahead with the top pairing on the ice. Where Thornton's line really excelled was offensively, though. Muzzin went a team-worst -5 in scoring chances at evens, while Doughty was slightly better at -3. Not their strongest performance. They've struggled a little bit in their own zone of late

  • 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), A. Robyn Regehr, superstar. Well, at least for a game. On top of his pair of assists, the Kings controlled over 60% of shot attempts with Regehr on the ice. He also boasted a team-leading +2 rating in scoring chances at evens. Voynov came in at even. This pairing saw neutral zone starts and mostly faced off with Logan Couture. The second pairing won that matchup and came out ahead in shot attempts overall. Very strong night.

  • 3rd pairing (Martinez - Greene), A. Basically, you can take the write-up for the fourth line and paste it here. The depth players of the Kings took big advantage of soft minutes. In fact, the fourth line and third pairing line up one through five on the team in shot attempts for the game. Martinez and Greene each went +1 in scoring chances. Their competition wasn't completely soft, either, as they saw a lot of Joe Pavelski's. However, they destroyed Pavelski and most of their competition on their way to an extremely strong night.

Special Teams

  • Power Play, F. They were out-attempted on their own power play. For realsies.

  • Penalty Kill, B. The Kings had one really strong kill and it was all that they needed. They were excellent in killing off the last three minutes of Dustin Brown's major penalty. The Sharks were extremely effective throughout the rest of the night, though, creating 8 scoring chances on the man advantage. If not for their strong power play, this wasn't a very close game. It really didn't turn out to be a close game anyway, but you get the idea.

Martin Jones, A.

  • What is there to even say about this kid any more? San Jose directed 20 scoring chances his way (15 hit the net) and he turned all but one away. Another stellar performance.

Overall Team Performance, A.

  • Absolute statement performance against an elite team. The Kings shook off score effects like really loose pants and pretty much dominated the game at 5v5 from start to finish. They got strong efforts from nearly top to bottom, and even the weakest links in the chain were too strong to break. If there's a flaw in this diamond, it was visible during the PK. Chalk some of that up to facing the best power play in the league, but it needs to be better against Colorado and Dallas.

The Numbers