If your team is outattempted by 197 shots over nine games (37.4% EV Corsi), how many games would you expect to win?
Coming into Tuesday evening's tilt with the Los Angeles Kings, the suddenly not so lowly Buffalo Sabres had won six of those nine (including #neverforget beating the San Jose Sharks on November 18th). How is this even possible?
It's a trap! pic.twitter.com/3kvrJzem7o— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) December 10, 2014
Enroth fighting hard for sightlines. Notice shooter hand and where he places shot in mass of humanity. https://t.co/DmAAtyVVCb— The Goalie Guild (@TheGoalieGuild) December 10, 2014
And so the night went for the Kings.
The Sabres actually came out with some jump, as the most popular hockey player in the world shanked it from the slot after a sloppy Drew Doughty turnover four minutes in. From that point on, however, LA poured—wait, that's not the word—trickled it on with a few grade-B scoring chances, the best probably being a Tanner Pearson shot off a Jeff Carter rebound that you probably already forgot about. We're sure Tyler Toffoli forgot:
In the second, Buffalo continued to execute their "bend-don't-break" defense and actually came out with the frame's only excellent scoring chance (this after another punchless LA power play). The most popular hockey player in the world almost finished off a 3-on-2 by blowing past a still-behind game speed Marian Gaborik:
The lightly-tested Jonathan Quick, however, was equal to the task. Buffalo then wrapped up the period by flubbing yet another man advantage opportunity:
@lakingsinsider plus allowed 3 SHG so they're an amazing +2 in 76 PP opportunities— Andrew Leafman (@andrewleafman) December 10, 2014
This is what's called foreshadowing.
So in summary, after two:
Second-period running copy: First-period running copy:— lisa dillman (@reallisa) December 10, 2014
Going into the third, Los Angeles held 39-16 EV Corsi and 8-2 EV scoring chances advantages. How could they lose? Cue the "That's So Kings" theme music!
After a Robyn Regehr roughing penalty to kick off the period, Mike Richards abandoned the front, leaving Tyler Ennis by himself to slam it home. Don't do it, Mike!!!
Darryl Sutter wasn't pleased:
"It’s a bad play by Mike Richards. You can’t drop off. It’s a set play for us. You can’t drop off in the corner unless we have full control. You’ve got to cover the middle of the ice." (LA Kings Insider)
Despite another power play and tons of possession, LA barely threatened, finally recording their first EV scoring chance with four minutes left in the game. But by then, it was too late. 34 saves later, Jhonas Enroth was not impressed with the defending champs:
Enroth: That was one of the easier ones, actually. Team played well, minimized their chances. Felt sharp. #LAKvsBUF— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) December 10, 2014
So while there are some positives to take from this game (including a 57-18 final EV Corsi advantage & Alec Martinez recording a +25 EV Corsi with Regehr as his main partner), the Kings' power play and a lack of serious scoring chances disappointed.
Shot attempts in last two games: Kings 139, Flyers/Sabres 52. One goal. Two regulation losses.— Rich Hammond (@Rich_Hammond) December 10, 2014
It's onward to Ottawa on Thursday! Hopefully, the Kings start to show better this weekend when an entire nation will be watching.