Kings @ Canadiens: Grades and Analysis
The Kings rolled into Montreal and then Montreal rolled over.
Eric has the game recap here.
- 1st line (King - Kopitar - Carter), B-. Probably the loosest defensive night that Kopitar's line has had recently. They surrendered 6 scoring chances against at even strength, and the majority of those game while the game was still in question. That said, this line answered the bell offensively. Kopitar himself generated 3 scoring chances while setting up another. While they primarily lined up with the top line of the Habs, they did their best work against the Canadiens' second line. Kopitar's line was +8 against the David Desharnais-led line in just 3.6 minutes of ice-time against each other.
- 2nd line (Brown - Stoll - Williams), B. As has become a recurring theme, this line didn't generate a ton of chances but had success with what they did create. Only Brown was a positive in even strength chance +/- while Stoll and Williams came up even. The best word to describe this line since its creation would be "steady". Three veteran players that aren't hurting the team. Stoll has recovered from his deep early-season slumber and has been particularly solid since returning from injury. Williams is still a possession-monster. Brown is still a straight-ahead player. They're a good mix and, most importantly, they can eat tough minutes. That could possibly free up the top line and Richards/Toffoli combo to take on softer minutes in an attempt to create offense./
- 3rd line (Clifford - Richards - Toffoli), A. I'm gonna chalk up any possession issues to score effects in this one, because this line was excellent otherwise. Mike Richards went +4 in even strength chances to lead the team. Clifford and Toffoli stayed on his heels at +2. They scored a pair of goals (and Richards factored into Kopitar's as well) and played a solid game. I liked the mix of this line from the start. The skillset on this line actually reads like a middle-class version of the Brown-Kopitar-Williams line. I like it. Keep them together.
- 4th line (Carcillo - Fraser - Nolan), A. Pretty similar to the 3rd line, except not quite as stellar offensively. Regardless, they were good. Nolan scored a goal and added another chance. Dan Carcillo logged a chance. Colin Fraser didn't fuck the whole team over somehow. Again, not dominant territorially, but that's expected when the game is a blowout from like the 3:00 mark of the second period on. They also received the toughest zone starts on the team. In proper context, their numbers actually like quite good.
- 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), A. With soft zone starts and more middling competition than you'd expect, the top pairing cruised against Montreal. The Kings owned about 67% of shot attempts with this pairing on the ice and that translated pretty evenly to their scoring chance numbers. Both of them were +3 at evens. Muzzin notched the team's first power play goal since the dawn of man as well, but we'll get to that in a bit.
- 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), C. If this wouldn't have been a 6-0 game, I'd likely have given them a failing grade given how thoroughly they got fleeced. However, I'm gonna give them A LOT of leeway in this one due to that and their absurdly tough minutes. I don't personally believe that zone starts alone would cause a pairing to come up with just 22 or 23% of all shot attempts, but, whatever, we'll go with that. They did face a lot of Montreal's best players as well, but still. This pairing made up most of the Kings' negative gains in the scoring chance battle. Montreal notched 11 scoring chances at evens and this pair was on the ice for 7 of those. They had a rough night, but...whatever. Moving on./
- 3rd pairing (Mitchell - Martinez), A. Sutter opted to leave Martinez in the lineup over an apparently healthy Matt Greene, and he was rewarded with a dominant performance from his depth pairing. Each defender was on the ice for 25 Kings shot attempts and went +5 in chances to lead the team. Martinez led the team in CF% as well. Normally the successes of the 3rd pairing are a result of easy minutes, but that wasn't entirely the case in Montreal. They had middling zone starts and varying competition; while they saw significant time against Ryan White, they saw even more time against Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. Martinez juiced up this pairing's performance with a controversial 2nd period goal as well. The succeeded territorially, offensively, and at pissing off Montreal fans. Amazing night.
- Power Play, C. How does that saying go? Something like, "the operation was a success but the patient died." Well, this was the opposite. Admittedly, it's a very small sample to work with, but the Kings weren't really very good in their two power plays. They just happened to get the goal. So, the operation was an abject failure but they happened to save the patient's life. Good work, team./
- Penalty Kill, B+. At the other end of things, it was something of the same story. They didn't suppress shots or chances like they've been able to lately, but Martin Jones backstopped the penalty kill to success. It also helps when you generate 5 shot attempts while shorthanded, which the Kings managed to do. Not the prettiest penalty kill we've seen lately, but it worked. Hopefully they clean up some of the issues that caused them to surrender 7 chances against.
Martin Jones, A.
He really earned his shutout in this one, particularly early. Be sure to check Extra Skater's Fenwick chart for the game and you'll see just how much he saved the Kings in the early going. Apparently he earned the start tonight, perhaps because Sutter is sick of playing this dumb game on easy mode.
Overall Team Performance, What do you think?
- They won 6-0./