Unlike the game on Sunday against Detroit where the Kings dominated, but were unable to take home a win-- they got what they deserved in this one. They outplayed St. Louis on both ends of the ice as they were able to manuever their way out of St. Louis' aggressive forecheck and push play in the right direction.
Consistency among their depth forwards has been a problem. Richards and Stoll had tough outings against Detroit. Let's take a look at how they and the rest of the Kings' units fared last night.
- 1st line (Gagne - Kopitar - Brown), Grade: C Coming off a dominant performance in Detroit, this unit had a tougher time in St. Louis. They had a difficult time gaining the zone and creating quality opportunities. Gagne in fact was on ice for 0 scoring chances for. On the other side of the ice, they were fortunately able to limit the Blues from generating much offense themselves. They were very active in their own zone and were heavily relied on to manage the puck out into the neutral zone. Overall, they were matched mainly against the Backes line and were played to a draw.
- 2nd Line(Clifford-Carter-Williams), Grade: A+ Another stellar effort for this line. They were matched primarily against the Blues’ 1st and 4th lines. Jeff Carter dominated the middle of the ice and scored 2 goals out of 5 shot attempts. Kyle Clifford was very active in the neutral zone and on the back-check. It should also be noted that Clifford stayed out of the box in a very chippy affair. He’s definitely modified his game in that area and has been one of the Kings’ best forwards this season at not causing the team to have to play shorthanded .
- 3rd Line (King-Richards-Nolan), Grade: A A huge improvement over last game. They denied St. Louis virtually any quality scoring opportunities. Jordan Nolan was the Kings most active forward in the defensive zone, beating Blues to the puck on several occasions and getting the puck out into transition. Dwight King was responsible for registering two scoring chances. Mike Richards seemed a lot more decisive with the puck than he has been of late.
- 4th Line (Penner-Stoll-Lewis), Grade: D This was the Kings weak spot among their forward corps. Hitchcock saw the potential to exploit a matchup and hard-matched the Steen line against them. As a result they were beaten badly in the possession game. The Kings only attempted four shots with Jarret Stoll on the ice and allowed ten. Dustin Penner was MIA in the defensive zone, only registering a single touch. Stoll had a difficult time getting the puck out, including one poor turnover. Their saving grace was that they (along with a lot of help from the back-end) were able to limit St. Louis from recording very many dangerous attempts at the net.
- Ellerby-Doughty, Grade: B+. Ellerby displayed great puck moving abilities on Jeff Carter’s second goal. He made a decisive read, carried the puck out of the d-zone, sped through the neutral zone and delivered a spot on pass to Carter for the goal. The pair wasn’t able to consistently drive play though, as St. Louis' rugged forecheck made getting the puck out of the defensive zone difficult at times. Ellerby was the Kings most efficient defenseman early but faded late. Doughty had an opposite effect. Early in the game he had few touches in the defensive zone that lead to moving the play forward. He improved late though and ended up being the Kings best defenseman at getting pucks out.
- Scuderi-Voynov, Grade: B+. Watching Slava Voynov play hockey is becoming mesmerizing. In addition to his sensational play on the Carter goal, he was on ice for 7 of the Kings scoring chances. More than any other King. It wasn’t all good for Voynov, as he did have two defensive zone turnovers and an icing. Scuderi also had a tough time with the Blues forecheck. The pair's struggles in getting the puck out of the zone were reflected in their possession numbers, but Voynov’s talent on the offensive end of the ice more than made up for it.
- Martinez-Drewiske, Grade D. Martinez was injured a minute into the game. As a result Drewiske saw a lot of time being partnered by Doughty, Ellerby and Scuderi. Drewiske lost the possession battle but also helped limit scoring chances. Overall not a good performance as he was the Kings’ least active defenseman in handling and moving the puck out of the defensive zone.
- Grade: C. 5:47 of PP time. 1 goal, 3 shots, 2 scoring chances. Both scoring chances were registered by Davis Drewiske. Although the Kings did manage to score, they again had a tough time generating a lot of quality chances. The Blues were also able to record a short-handed chance.
- Grade: D. St. Louis was on the PP for 5:30. The Kings PK units allowed 1 goal on 5 shots and 2 scoring chances. An already thinned out PK corps was further thinned out by the loss of Alec Martinez.
- Grade: B. Jonathan Bernier only needed to make 6 difficult saves but got all of them. The goal he did allow came from outside the scoring chance area. A solid performance but credit the Kings defense for making his job easier.
Overall Team Grade: A.
- The Kings finally got decent goaltending and they are able to take home a much needed win. The defense deserves a lot of credit for sustaining yet another injury and putting up another good performance in limiting chances and getting the puck out of the defensive end efficiently. Also Jeff Carter has probably seen his last game as a winger for a long while after a dominant performance in the middle.
Tables are sortable.
If you're unfamiliar with shot attempts and scoring chances, check out these links to see why they are important: Corsi - Scoring Chances.
Los Angeles Kings - Even Strength
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Los Angeles Kings - Even Strength - Team Totals
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