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Sheng's Suggestions for Sutter

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Which King has outscored Sidney Crosby this season? Also, see which center LA should have waived.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

"The lines aren't really changing, the goaltender's not changing. Darryl Sutter is making a stand right now. He's going with the guys that got them there."

~Jim Fox, 2/7/15

Well, that would be more reassuring if the Los Angeles Kings hadn't just gone 4-6-4 to fall three points out of a playoff spot.

Despite Fox's statement, I don't believe that Sutter will just go down with the ship. Like Dean Lombardi, he may own some misplaced loyalties. However, he has to rearrange the deck a little.

Here are some (realistic) suggestions to help the Kings sail into the postseason. You're welcome, Coach!

Ride Toffoli

So far this year, Tyler Toffoli (2.65) has outscored Sidney Crosby (2.47), Evgeni Malkin (2.4), Patrick Kane (2.37), and Steven Stamkos (2.24) at 5v5 Points/60. He's 10th (500+ 5v5 mins) in the NHL!

The closest King to Toffoli? Jeff Carter's 2.15. Keep in mind our general cheat baseline for 5v5 Points/60 (2.0=1st liner, 1.75=2nd liner, 1.5=3rd liner, 1.00=4th liner).

In fact, Toffoli is LA's top 5v5 producer (forwards, 700+ 5v5 mins) from last year on:


5v5 Points/60
Tyler Toffoli 2.3
Marian Gaborik 2.2
Jeff Carter 2
Anze Kopitar 1.8
Justin Williams 1.6
Tanner Pearson 1.6
Dwight King 1.3
Mike Richards 1.3
Dustin Brown 1.2
Jarret Stoll 1
Trevor Lewis 1
Kyle Clifford 0.8
Jordan Nolan 0.8

He's also second in 5v5 Shots/60 and third in Corsi For % Relative to Team:

5v5 Shots/60
Jeff Carter 10.1
Tyler Toffoli 9.9
Dustin Brown 9.7
Justin Williams 9.5
Trevor Lewis 8.3
Marian Gaborik 8.0
Kyle Clifford 7.2
Tanner Pearson 7.2
Anze Kopitar 6.4
Mike Richards 6.3
Dwight King 6.0
Jordan Nolan 5.7
Jarret Stoll 5.2
Corsi For % Rel
Anze Kopitar 5.4
Justin Williams 4.3
Tyler Toffoli 3.4
Marian Gaborik 2.7
Jeff Carter 0.8
Dwight King 0.4
Dustin Brown 0.3
Tanner Pearson 0.3
Kyle Clifford -1.8
Trevor Lewis -2.1
Jarret Stoll -2.5
Mike Richards -2.9
Jordan Nolan -5.1

Does this mean that the kid is better than Crosby? Carter? Of course not.

But it's time the Kings recognize that Toffoli is an elite producer, in league with Carter, Marian Gaborik, and Anze Kopitar. That means no more late-game benchings because of a first period neutral zone turnover. That means double shifts and power play time. That means being on the ice more than Jarret freaking Stoll:

10/8/14-1/8/15 5v5 TOI/gm TOI/gm
Justin Williams 14 Anze Kopitar 19.1
Dustin Brown 13.5 Jeff Carter 18.4
Anze Kopitar 13 Dustin Brown 17.1
Jarret Stoll 12.9 Marian Gaborik 16.9
Marian Gaborik 12.8 Jarret Stoll 16.6
Jeff Carter 12.7 Justin Williams 16.3
Dwight King 12.5 Tyler Toffoli 14.4
Trevor Lewis 11.7 Dwight King 14.2
Tanner Pearson 11.4 Mike Richards 14.1
Mike Richards 11.4 Trevor Lewis 13.9
Tyler Toffoli 11.3 Tanner Pearson 13.7
Kyle Clifford 10.8 Kyle Clifford 11
Jordan Nolan 9.8 Jordan Nolan 9.9

I know it's only Toffoli's second full season. I know the occasional seat may have taught the 22-year-old a useful lesson or two. I know he might slump. But LA's backs are against the wall and unleashing the young sniper will more likely bring good than bad.

Since Toffoli's triumphant return from mono, his 5v5 playing time has increased some (11.3 to 13.1). More encouragingly, he did not lose icetime after his defensive gaffe in Florida led to a game loser.

Demote Stoll

Through the many pointless penalties and nights, I've been JftC's most ardent Stoll supporter.

Over the summer, I even penned a spirited defense of his offensive decline. I placed a lot of blame for Stoll's lack of production on weak regular linemates (Dwight King, Trevor Lewis) from 2011-14. I discovered that the veteran center's 5v5 Points/60 scoring rate with Dustin Brown and Justin Williams (his most frequent linemates during a far more productive 2008-11) hadn't changed noticeably from 2008-11 to 2011-14.

That's not the case anymore:

2008-14 2014-15
Stoll w/ Brown 1.78 0.69
Stoll w/ Williams 1.65 0.92

Name a major offensive category, Jarret's dropped off:

Now what about Stoll's acknowledged skills? Well, before this season, his penalty killing abilities were a tad overrated:

2008-14 SH Fenwick Against/60
Dustin Brown 63.32
Trevor Lewis 66.43
TEAM AVERAGE 71
Anze Kopitar 72.77
Jarret Stoll 75.85

This year? Just a tad claw out your eyes:

SH FA60
Jeff Carter 60.85
Dustin Brown 62.58
Trevor Lewis 65.67
TEAM AVERAGE 66.1
Anze Kopitar 71.7
Jarret Stoll 86.83

For what it's worth, even his wizardry at the faceoff circle has diminished. After winning 56.1% of his draws from 2008-14, he's down to 52.6%.

So while I'd love to give a player who's done so much for the Kings a pass, the fact of the matter is, Stoll's 32. There was evidence of decline before, and right now, it looks like an out-and-out collapse.

Think Stoll's played better since October? Let's see how he's performed since LA's puck possession strength resurfaced in early December:

TEAM CORSI Points/60 Shots/60 Corsi Rel
10/8/14-12/2/14 51.1 0.39 4.61 -5.7
12/4/14-2/9/15 57.7 0.87 5.2 -3.7

In the fall, Stoll was Zenon Konopka without the uppercut. Since then? Better, but he'd still be having the worst season of his career.

Los Angeles waived the wrong center. While Mike Richards's work has been nothing to brag about, he's still better than Stoll, especially shorthanded (4v5 FA60 as of 1/28/15):

In addition, the Kings would've gained more cap space if they had waived or traded StollI believe they would've easily found a taker1.387 mil on January 26th, when Richards was cut, as opposed to the $925K LA has when "Richie Rides the Bus." Even today, they'd open up 1.149 mil.

Richards is probably the best 3C readily available to Los Angeles, but I'd give Nick Shore a shot too. It's a hefty responsibility for a 22-year-old rookie, but perhaps Shore can make a Toffoli or Tanner Pearson-like impact.

I wouldn't count on it. But please, let's just keep Stoll from playing 16 minutes a game from hereon out.

Promote Martinez

Move Alec Martinez up with Drew Doughty, slide Jake Muzzin with Matt Greene.

This is ironic, considering that I've declared that Martinez is not a championship-caliber top-four defenseman. Now he's top-pairing?!

While my opinion of Martinez hasn't changed much since his extension, here's why I'm promoting him. For starters, I believe Jake Muzzin, despite recent flubs, is the team's second-best defender. Next, it's ideal for Martinez to skate on his natural left side.

Martinez-Doughty and Muzzin-Greene offers balance to LA's top-four. And while I don't believe that Greene belongs in an elite top-four either, like A-Mart, he's the best option available...for now.

Try Jones

There are signs that Jonathan Quick may be fighting himself out of the worst slump of his career. And I'm not suggesting that Los Angeles make Martin Jones starter. Given the organization's trust in Quick, that's never going to happen anyway.

But LA needs one of their netminders to heat up. And Quick's been struggling. So why not give Jones a game or two more than usual to see if he can go on another amazing run?

Everybody Else?

Of course, other Kings are suffering from subpar seasonshere's looking at you, Dustin and Dwightand you can't reshuffle every single chair. I also believe Los Angeles will make the postseason "as is."

So Sutter can ignore JftCas I'm sure he's been doing on the way to two Stanley Cups!and keep benching Toffoli, trusting Stoll, overvaluing Robyn Regehr, and riding Quick.

However, the water is rising on the defending champs' reign. I'm not going down with the "guys that got them there" but with the best players.

All stats as of 2/10/15. Stats courtesy of Hockey AnalysisHockey ReferenceNHL.comPuckalyticsSporting Charts, and War on Ice.