The Kings took it on the nose last night. They had an awful first two periods, but just as they turned it around, a blunder cost them the game.
The gif of Jonathan Quick’s flub has been seared into all of our minds by now, but what were some other factors that contributed to game one’s subpar performance?
For more check out Eric's recap.
- 1st line (Clifford-Kopitar-Carter), Grade: F. Kyle Clifford got the most time on this line at LW, but Sutter also rotated in every other LW on the roster in the third. Clifford only saw 3 shifts in the period and wasn’t aboard the line in OT. So it looks like his brief stint on the 1st line has come to an end. And rightly so as the line was really kept at bay with him on the off wing. The Kings had a hard time gaining the zone with possession when he was on board, that is rarely a problem when Brown is there and this, as opposed to Williams, hasn’t been one of Carter’s strengths this season. As a result of their neutral zone problems, they were heavily out-chanced and spent a lot of time caged in their own zone. Matched against Backes and Pietrangelo, the team only managed one scoring chance with Kopitar on ice at even strength. Also, they had a very hard time against the 4th line in limited minutes (-6 shot attempts)-- which is a depressing thing to note. Sorry. Here watch this instead to wash that out.
- 2nd Line (Brown-Richards-Williams), Grade: C. This line was the team’s most effective offensive threat and that was largely due to Justin Williams who was one of the few forwards who played a solid game. Williams had a goal and 4 shots at evens (well, the goal was 6v5). He was the Kings best player in the neutral zone and gained the zone with possession more than any other skater. Brown, as usual, was also very strong in this regard. Sutter realized that this had been their best offensive unit and gave them the final shift wherein they scored the game tying goal.
They were matched evenly across the top 9 and even though they were able to stay afloat in the possession game (especially against the 2nd line), they had a hard time generating very many quality opportunities and were also heavily out chanced. Credit Roman Polak (who surprisingly led all Blues defensemen in even strength ice time) and Barret Jackman for keeping them at bay.
- 3rd Line (King/Penner-Stoll-Lewis), Grade: B. They were hard-matched against the Sobotka line and actually did quite well. Hitchcock did some interesting stuff with his third line of Sobotka-McDonald-Stewart. In offensive zone faceoffs, he had McDonald taking the draws. When the Blues were starting in the defensive end, Sobotka was charged with this responsibility. The reason for this is that Sobotka is a strong faceoff man and regarded as an adept defensive zone player. So Hitchcock wanted utilize that in the d-zone. He’s also bigger than McDonald so he wanted to have him on wing in the o-zone because he is presumably better in the corners and in puck retrieval. That being said, even with this strategy the Kings 3rd line had probably the best overall game among forward units and mainly when Penner was added to the mix. They were able to tally copious amounts zone time against the Sobotka line and the Polak pair. Penner lead the forward corps in the possession battle and pitched in with 3 shots. Maybe Penner’s strongest game of the season. It’ll be interesting to see if Sutter agrees and where he’ll put him in game 2.
- 4th Line (Penner-Richarsdon-Nolan/Carter), Grade: F. The Kings only rolled 3 lines in the third period. Jordan Nolan (like Dwight King and Clifford) barely saw any time in the third. As a result, Richardson’s possession numbers got a boost as he saw time on the 1st line. Nolan’s numbers are more indicative of how the line played. And those numbers are woeful (see charts below). I think we might see Fraser in for Nolan in game 2. I’d prefer to see Tyler Toffoli get the nod but that seems like a longshot.
- Regehr/Muzzin-Doughty, Grade: C. Their time was spread pretty evenly across the top 9 and managed to make some heavy inroads against the 3rd line. Still, that didn’t help them in the scoring chance battle. When Doughty and Regehr were together the Kings were out-chanced 0-6. With Muzzin and Doughty, chance differential was much better at 1-2 (they were also in the black in zone time numbers). Regehr had an awful giveaway in the defensive zone that directly lead to 3 scoring chances. Then he broke his nose and Muzzin got more time with Doughty. Also, Sutter likes to move Muzzin up with Doughty when the Kings are trailing and put Regehr down on the third pair. I wish Sutter did this all the time instead of just when they were trailing. But if I were being granted wishes, I would first wish that the Kings never traded for Regehr in the first place and also for Willie Mitchell to have the healthiest knees in the world.
- Scuderi-Voynov, Grade: F. Not so hot. Out-possessed and out-chanced. Relative to ice time they allowed more attempts and chances than all other defensemen. .
- Muzzin/Regehr-Ellerby, Grade D. Ellerby saw most of his time against the 1st and 4th lines. The Blues 1st line racked up a lot of zone time with him on the ice and out-chanced him 3-0. So poor effort against the first line but better against softer competition..
- Grade: B. 2 shots and scoring chances in 2:41 of power play time. Also, that Jonathan Quick brain-cramp that shall not be mentioned. The power play was not the problem in this one..
- Grade: D. 8 shots and 5 scoring chances against in 8:18 minutes of penalty kill time (!). The penalty kill wasn't at their best. The bigger issue was all the penalties.
- Grade: A. Jonathan Quick stopped 16 of 18 scoring chance shots and 40 of 42 overall. His mistake in overtime lead to the game winning goal, but he was more than solid before that.
- The Kings had a bad first period and what should have been a catastrophic second period but finished the game strong. Their overall chance plus minus of -15 was one their worst marks of the season. The optimist in me says, “well, one of their worst games of the year and they only lost 2-1. Plus, they were on the verge of winning if not for a fluke.” The pessimist in me is wondering why they played one of their worst games of the season in the first game of the playoffs. I’m giving them an F, but the way they played in the latter part of the 3rd and in OT is encouraging.
If you're unfamiliar with shot attempts and scoring chances, check out these links to see why they are important: Corsi -Scoring Chances.
(Players in parenthesis selected as proxies to represent their units. The way to read it is: The Kings 1st line spent X% of their time against the opponents first line, etc. Red = more time against. Green = less time.)
Even Strength - Player Stats
|Name||Attempts For||Attempts Against||Attempt +/-||Chances For||Chances Against||Chance +/-|
Even Strength - Team Stats
*scoring chances at all strengths.
SCORING CHANCE +/-
Even Strength - Team Stats
|PERIOD||ATTEMPTS FOR||ATTEMPTS AGAINST||ATTEMPT +/-||CHANCES FOR||CHANCES AGAINST||SCORING CHANCE +/-|
|Total||54||59||-5||7 (10)*||19 (25)*||-12 (-15)*|