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Avalanche @ Kings: Grades and Analysis

Fuck Varlamov forever.

You suck.
You suck.
Stephen Dunn

After jumping out to an early lead, the Kings were forced to use the shootout to earn two points. Eric has the recap here.

Forward Lines

  • 1st line (King - Kopitar - Carter), B. When the top line gets going, they're pretty tough to contain. They seem to move the puck better every game, and right now they're posing a huge threat to the other team. The trio probably still has some kinks to work out, but I think any failings in their game were experienced team-wide on Saturday. Not many Kings had a good afternoon catching or receiving passes. Jeff Carter notched a huge goal to put the Kings up late in the first period while Anze Kopitar led the team in Corsi and scoring chances. On the flip-side, Carter and Dwight King were on the ice for 6 scoring chances against. They bled a bit, but matched pretty much any defensive lapse with an offensive opportunity of their own. Solid game overall.

  • 2nd line (Brown - Stoll - Williams), B. With tough-to-middling zone starts and similar competition, the Kings' second line came out ahead in shot attempts and near even in scoring chances. Their game was reflective of the overall team effort: leakier defensively than you'd like, but a pretty even-keeled performance that certainly didn't hurt the team. Williams drew from the Dodgers' playbook in scoring the Kings' second goal. On the whole, it was an awfully similar game to the top line.

  • 3rd line (Lewis - Richards - Toffoli), C-. Trevor Lewis up to his old tricks, I see. While they were fairly effective defensively (2 scoring chances against), they got nothing going in the offensive zone at 5v5. That said, they had pretty tough zone starts and their competition certainly wasn't easy. Although it wasn't their main matchup, they saw plenty of time against Matt Duchene and friends. Though they weren't scored on and controlled possession by a small margin, literally zero offensive production drags their game down a bit. Maybe it's time to return Lewis to his real home on the 4th line, but I feel like I've said that a lot this season.

  • 4th line (Clifford - Fraser - Nolan), C. Jordan Nolan was one of just two Kings below 50% in shot attempts. Still, it wasn't a bad afternoon for the 4th line. As a unit, they were even in scoring chances at 5v5 play, and they did so with fairly tough zone starts and competition. Though it was a low event game for the fourth line, Clifford and Fraser marginally beat their opposition in shot attempts.

Defensive Pairings

  • 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), C. Same problem that's plagued them recently reared its head against Colorado. They gave up way too much offense to the Avs. They did have tough competition and a lot of d-zone starts, but gave up entirely too many scoring chances considering that they controlled possession. Colorado mustered 8 scoring chances against both Doughty and Muzzin. Still, the Kings also generated quite a bit of offense through this pairing to balance out some of those lapses. Doughty was as active offensively as he's been all season, logging 2 chances and setting up another at 5v5 play.

  • 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), B. Again, reflective of the team effort. With average zone starts and tough competition, this pairing controlled shot attempts by a slim margin but lagged in scoring chances by a similar margin. With the competition and ice-time they faced, I'm pretty happy with their defensive night. Would like to have seen more offense out of them, but they spent too much of their night with the hapless third line. Not a lot they could do about that.

  • 3rd pairing (Martinez - Greene), B. To the surprise of many, Darryl Sutter opted to keep both defenders in the lineup in spite of Willie Mitchell apparently being available. They weren't bad. The third pairing faced fairly soft competition, but difficult zone starts. With their zone starts, their numbers look just about right. They came out right around even in both shot attempts and chances. Again, I'd like to see more offense, but they also saw plenty of time with Lewis on the ice.

Special Teams

  • Power Play, C. It's nice to actually have something to write about. The Kings' power play looked...better. Not good, to be clear, but better. They had much less trouble gaining the zone, though still suffered the occasional hiccup. They didn't generate a ton of offense (3 chances but they all came from Mike Richards in a 25-second span), but the possession time was there for the first time in awhile. Hopefully this is a sign of actual life and not just the step forward that comes before two steps back.

  • Penalty Kill, F. Sometimes, things just don't work out as they seem like they should. Colorado has not had a strong power play this season. They don't shoot the puck much or for a high percentage, but they executed pretty well on Saturday. They only generated 2 scoring chances, but both were of a quality that earned the goal they resulted in. The PK was considerably worse process-wise against San Jose, but it held the Sharks off the board. Unfortunately, regression bit them against the Avs. They've been a bit too reliant on strong goaltending in their recent run of penalty killing success and that just does not hold up in the long run. Wouldn't be surprised if some more rough nights come in the near future.

Martin Jones, B.

  • Both goals against were certainly high quality scoring chances. Still, he looked pretty lost on the second goal. The Kings let Ryan O'Reilly waltz right through the box toward the net. O'Reilly put on a slick little stickhandling display that froze Jones and was able to beat him pretty cleanly. Again, not Jones' fault -- O'Reilly had far too much time and space -- but I think you'd like him to come up with one of the two goals against and the second is the more likely candidate. Though the first goal was a backdoor play, Jones had actually worked himself into great position to make the save. He just couldn't come up with it. All that said, it was another perfect night at even strength play for him, his fifth such performance of the season (and the Kings' thirteenth). That number leads the Kings' goalie-Cerberus.

Overall Team Performance, B.

  • Sloppy success would be the best way to describe this game. The Kings made a bundle of mistakes but made even more good plays to tip the balance in their favor. The kinds of mistakes they made -- botched passes and poor puck management -- often seem to come as a result of fatigue. After all, it was their second game in less than 48 hours and their schedule has been ridiculous lately. They have one game left before a well-earned break, but they'll probably need a better effort to take out the Stars. Dallas has been a considerably stronger possession team than their Conference III counterparts from Colorado. In the Kings' last game of similar circumstances (possibly tired team facing the end of a tough stretch), they turned in the third most dominant possession performance of the season. Here's to hoping for a similar effort.

The Numbers

  • Extra Skater.
  • Still haven't seen the matchup Corsi from Robert, so hopefully he pops in with that soon!