Islanders @ Kings: Grades and Analysis
The Kings continued a trend of stellar defense in their shutout of the Isles.
It took awhile, but the Kings exploded after Anze Kopitar cooked Travis Hamonic to score the game's opening goal late in the 2nd. Eric has the game recap here.
- 1st line: King [A] - Kopitar [A] - Carter [C+] It's a bit foolish to list line combinations in this one, as Sutter shuffled the deck at least as often as he ever has during his tenure. For instance, Anze Kopitar played with six different forwards for more than two minutes at 5v5 play on Saturday night. As a comparison, he played with just four forwards for more than two minutes against the Ducks, and he did that with more ice-time. Thankfully, it didn't much matter who Kopitar played with; the Kings controlled the puck with him on the ice. Dwight King also excelled by posting the team's best scoring chance +/- at 5v5 play. While the Kings still controlled more than half of all shot attempts with Carter on the ice, his possession numbers lagged behind King's and Kopitar's. Anze most often matched up with Brock Nelson, but didn't face any line at a steady rate.
- 2nd line: Brown [B-] - Stoll [B-] - Williams [B-] The only line that got regular use as a unit was this one. They also put together the most steady offensive night on the team. The three of them tied for a team lead by being on the ice for 6 Kings scoring chances in all situations. Sutter opted to start them in the neutral zone more than any other, rarely giving them any end-zone starts. John Tavares and his merry band of idiots squared off with this line most often and the match-up was split down the middle possession-wise. The only real difference was on the score sheet, and that's all that really matters, right? Solid night amid tough conditions./
3rd line: Richards [C] - Vey [B] - Toffoli [B] Oddly, Vey and Toffoli did their best work while separated from Richards. Mike Richards didn't wind up on the ice for a single LA scoring chance in the game at 5v5 play. Vey and Toffoli each went +2 in chances. Toffoli directly factored into 2 scoring chances while Vey logged one of his own. This line also saw quite a bit of time against the Tavares line, but got extremely sheltered zone starts -- including Richards. Curious how much different their numbers ended up since their zone start and TOI numbers weren't extremely different.
4th line: Nolan [C-] - Fraser [D+] - Frattin [D-] Not a pretty night for the 4th line. While the possession numbers weren't bad, they created exactly zero offense. Not one of the three forwards was on the ice for a single scoring chance in any situation in the entire game. Frattin had another extremely quiet night and I wouldn't be very stunned to see him come out of the lineup for Kyle Clifford. While Vey is another likely candidate, he actually played well. Frattin was one of 4 players at or below 50% in shot attempts.
- 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), D. Strange night for the top pairing of the Kings. In spite of significantly softer zone starts than they've been receiving lately, they had one of their worst possession and scoring chance nights in recent memory. The possession wasn't outright bad, as the Kings still controlled around 53% of shot attempts with these two out there. However, a large portion of their positive possession play came against the 4th line of the Isles. Against that 4th line, this pairing went +5 in shot attempts. Against the rest of the Isles' forwards, they were -3. They also got out-chanced slightly and didn't assist in the creation of much offense in any situation./
2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), B-. Sutter almost completely flipped course on his early-season usage tonight. Regehr got extremely sheltered zone starts, receiving absolutely none in the defensive zone. Voynov received just three. Not significant, but there's a clear design there. Voynov and Regehr were each +1 in chances. They weren't hard-matched against any line, either.
- 3rd pairing (Mitchell - Martinez), A. Los Angeles controlled right around 70% of shot attempts with this pairing on the ice. Mitchell received extremely tough zone starts, only really "bested" in that regard by Kopitar. While Martinez's zone starts were more measured, his possession numbers are good enough to make it not matter. Sutter gave them a lot of time against the Isles' 4th line, but they succeeded in most of their match-ups. Only John Tavares's line bested them.
- Power Play, F. Grotesque. While 10 shot attempts in 6.3 minutes isn't the worst performance they've posted recently, the fact that they gave up 2 scoring chances against makes everything look quite a bit worse. Even aside from that, they weren't great. Their near-complete inability to enter the zone again reared its ugly head. When they manage to get set up, they look dangerous, but getting to that point has been an enormous problem lately./
Penalty Kill, A. Again a rather complete reversal for the PK and the PP. The Kings PK was dominant, allowing 7 shot attempts in 6.2 minutes. They gave up just 3 chances and generated 1 of their own. Often times a PK goes on a stellar run because of hot/lucky goaltending. That has not been the case with the Kings. They're due for some bad luck, but they've been extremely stifling lately, even while shorthanded.
Martin Jones, Certificate of Completion.
That was as much of a team shutout as you'll ever see. Though the Kings had some issues finding their sea legs, the defense was there from start to finish. The Isles sincerely struggled to direct threatening shots on net for the duration of the game. Well, really, they just plain ol' struggled throwing shots, period. They registered just 16 in the game, and just 8 of their shots on goal counted as scoring chances (3 more missed the net). Just 1 of those stood out in my head as being particularly dangerous. Suffice to say that the Kings had another excellent defensive night.
Overall Team Performance, B+
- As I said, the Kings struggled to find their legs. When Kopitar untied the game, 5v5 shot attempts were actually 16-15 in favor of the Islanders. Fortunately, the slumbering Kings rose from hibernation after that and completely took over the game. Shot attempts for the rest of the game were 20-7 in favor of LA, a complete reversal of commonly-referred-to score effects. This game reads a lot like a script we've seen over and over this season. The Isles played an effective game early, but didn't get the big goal. They let their opponent stick around long enough to find their game and wound up losing. The Kings came out on the positive side of things on Saturday night.
- Extra Skater
- Lighthouse Hockey recap
- Our tables are below./