Blues vs Kings Game 5: Grades and Analysis

The Kings somehow won this game.

The Kings were soundly out-played for long stretches yet managed to win the game. How did that happen? We'll try and figure it out.

Game Grades

Forward Lines

  • 1st line (Brown-Kopitar-Williams), Grade: D. It's curious that the Blues went away from hard-matching Backes to Kopitar after having it work well for them early in the series. Sutter diverted Kopitar's minutes to the Blues 2nd line in game 4 and Hitchcock continued that trend in game 5. That being said, the Blues had a lot of success against this unit. The Kings top line was drowning in defensive zone time for the majority of the game. They were out-attempted 7 to 19 against the top 6. Usually, this line is known for its stellar work in the neutral zone. Tonight they had a tough time in that regard because they were stuck deep in their zone so often and could only manage to clear and change a lot of the time. When they were able to gain the zone they resorted to dumping it in much more often than usual. Overall, they were out-chanced 2 to 6. The good news was that they were on-ice for the game winner, which was a great team effort. Brown out-positioned Backes on a loose puck and took him out of the play. Williams was first on it and sped through the neutral zone. Voynov saw the play develop and activated a split second before Jaden Schwartz recognized what was happening -- with Voynov's speed that was all the time he needed to create an odd man rush. Kopitar fed him a perfect pass and Brian Elliott jumped back into his own body like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost.
  • 2nd Line (King-Richards-Carter), Grade: B-. They drew the tough matchup, spending half of their ice time against the Backes line and effectively neutralized them. They got more zone time and also allowed no quality opportunities when head-to-head. Overall, they only managed 1 scoring chance, but they made it count. In addition to getting a tough matchup, they were also tasked with getting a lot of defensive zone draws and thus their possession numbers suffered some because of this. That being said, they had a tough time in their limited minutes against the Blues bottom 6, namely the Sobotka line. They surrendered 3 scoring chances and a goal with Sobotka on ice. Aside from Jake Muzzin getting abused by Alex Steen, Dwight King apparently found something really interesting going on in the crowd while that was happening.
  • 3rd Line (Penner-Stoll-Lewis), Grade: A. Another solid effort from the third line. Undoubtedly the Kings best unit. It seems like Dustin Penner was treating the regular season like an extended pre-season. He's been one of the top forwards and has registered more scoring chances (relative to ice time) than anyone else on the team not named Justin Williams. He was shut out in that regard tonight, but Trevor Lewis picked up that slack and recorded two really good chances. As a unit, they drew the dangerous Sobotka line and did a good job keeping them quiet.
  • 4th Line (Clifford-Fraser-Toffoli), Grade: B. Tyler Toffoli was a surprise addition to the line-up. Even more surprising when you consider that Hitchcock was going to try to match his best against this unit with him on it whenever he could. Hitchcock did in fact do that as the 4th line saw over a third of their minutes against David Backes. They held their own against the Blues top unit and played a solid low event game overall. Toffoli saw shifts late in the game up on the 2nd line, look for more of that in game 6.

Defensive Pairings

  • Regehr/Scuderi/Muzzin-Doughty, Grade: A-. This was the only defensive unit that wasn't plagued by horrendous defensive zone turnovers. Robyn Regehr had another rock solid game. Offensively he lead the team in shots on goal with 4 and attempted 7 shots overall. He took the conservative route with the puck in his own zone and frequently defaulted to getting it out rather than risk getting caught-- which is something had been struggling with from time-to-time since being brought over. Drew Doughty had another perfect game wherein he touched the puck the most in the defensive zone without turning it over. Again tasked with the shutdown role as they were hard-matched to the Blues top unit. They won the zone time battle and were played to even in chances. Regehr missed a significant portion of the game due to injury and Muzzin and Scuderi filled in. Without Regehr, Doughty was out-attempted 3 to 8.
  • Muzzin/Scuderi-Voynov, Grade: D. A pretty rough game for Jake Muzzin as he'll probably be seeing Alex Steen in his nightmares. He was frequently out-battled by Steen and overall had several poor defensive zone turnovers. Muzzin was so bad that he was benched for a long stretch in the 2nd, only seeing 3 shifts in that period. As a unit, they were matched against the 2nd and 3rd lines and were abused-- a combined -10 in shot attempts to go with 5 chances allowed. Voynov's game winner was the only thing that kept them from an "F", although without Muzzin their grade would probably be a lot better..
  • Martinez-Scuderi, Grade D. They were out-chanced 0 to 3 as unit and Alec Martinez's 3 were a lot relative to ice time. In addition, they were gobbled up by the Backes line whenever they were caught out against them-- -6 in head-to-head shot attempts. They did hold their own against weaker competion which is a good sign heading into L.A. where Sutter can better control their matchups.

Power Play

  • Grade: B. 3:00 of power play time but again a lot of production in limited minutes. 1 goal on 1 shot and 3 scoring chances. Muzzin saw a lot of power play time and registered a chance. If not for his abilities on the power play, he'd probably be a healthy scratch./

Penalty Kill

  • Grade: D. 2:00 of penalty kill time: 2 chances and 4 shots allowed. The Kings were lucky to not give up a goal in limited power play time. Again another disciplined game by the Kings to limit penalties. They're starting to close the PK vs PP time gap in the series caused by copious penalties taken in games 1 and 2.
  • Grade: A. A bounce-back game for Jonathan Quick which is a great sign for the Kings. He stopped 11 of 12 scoring chance shots and 30 of 32 shots overall for a .944 save percentage.

Overall Team Grade: C.

  • The Blues have to feel like they squandered a great opportunity. It's not often that the Kings top line gets dominated like this. Credit Regehr/Doughty and the Kings depth lines for buoying the team.
  • The Kings were -13 in shot attempts and -7 in scoring chances. The numbers going into overtime were even worse for the Kings. Like game 1, they were dominated for three periods and turned the tables on an exhausted Blues team in over-time. This time though, they managed to win.
  • The home team has dominated in possession and scoring chances in every game this series. Up until this one, the home team had also won each game. The difference this time was save percentage; Quick: .944, Elliott: .880. So if this home domination trend continues, the Blues will need Brian Elliott to come up huge in order for them to come back.
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Team Numbers

If you're unfamiliar with shot attempts and scoring chances, check out these links to see why they are important: Corsi -Scoring Chances.

Even Strength - Team Stats

1 17 28 -11 0 6 -6
2 16 19 -3 2 4 -2
3 9 14 -5 1 2 -1
4 11 5 +6 3 1 +2
Total 53 66 -13 8(6)* 13 (15)* -7 (-7)*
*scoring chances at all strengths.

For more game 5 numbers than you could shake a stick at: click here.