Kings @ Islanders: Grades and Analysis
The Kings squeaked out a come-from-behind win against the Isles in Long Island on Thursday night. Eric has the game recap here.
- 1st line (Brown - Kopitar - Williams), B. Kind of a weird night for this line. Although Sutter often chose to use them in the defensive zone, Isles' coach Jack Capuano frequently used his 4th line against the Kings' top unit. The Kings worked over the Cizikas line pretty hard, going +7 in shot attempts in roughly 5 minutes of ice-time. This line also fared pretty well in chances considering that the Kings' had little going for them for a lot of the night. Kopitar was the only of the three on the ice for a chance against, and he was on for just 1. While you want this line to create more (common refrain), it was a good night./
- 2nd line (King - Richards - Toffoli), C-. As has often been the case lately, the Kings' 2nd line took the lion's share of the heavy lifting. They received fairly neutral zone starts but often got saddled with containing the Islanders' top line. Though their task was made somewhat easier by not having to face off with Thomas Vanek, it's a tough night any time you have to skate with Tavares. Unfortunately, Tavares got the upper hand. Richards and company did a respectable job defensively, but all three failed to create a scoring chance at evens while they were on the ice throughout the game. Although Toffoli was later moved to the kid line with Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey, the goal they scored to win the game was not a scoring chance.
- 3rd line (Pearson - Vey - Lewis), C. It's one night, and Lewis ended up getting lassoed to some pretty mediocre linemates at the tail end of the game, but Vey seemed to be a steadying influence on the flow of the game. Now, Sutter did give the Pearson/Vey/Toffoli combo some soft minutes in terms of zone starts, but they were effective while the Nolan/Fraser/Lewis unit was not. Lewis, Pearson and Vey kept the Isles fairly well in check early in the game; the trio also created the Kings' first even strength chance of the game. However, Lewis was on the ice for all 3 chances that the Isles registered in the 3rd period while the kid line went ahead and won the game. Is Linden Vey responsible? Well, correlation isn't causation, and this is far from definitive proof proof, but who am I if I'm not jumping to ill-formed conclusions? So, yes. Linden Vey rules, Trevor Lewis drools (for a night) (maybe literally after getting his head rattled a few times throughout the game).
- 4th line (Nolan - Fraser - Frattin), C-. Capuano opted to go after the 4th line of the Kings with his top 6... and the 4th line did alright. They weren't spectacular. They didn't create offense. They received soft zone starts. Still. Hard to have high expectations when your team's least effective forwards are facing off against John Tavares with a pretty skilled group of forwards to accompany him. Sutter didn't shy away from using them either, even after it became obvious that Capuano had designs on exploitation. Sutter kept going to them, and they rewarded him with a fairly quiet night through 2 periods. However, after Lewis joined them, they got worked over a bit. Probably not Lewie's best night. It's not often that he allows the most scoring chances against on the team.
- 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), A-. The only Kings' pairing to come out ahead in scoring chances. They faced mostly tough competition, although Capuano's desire to exploit the Kings' weakest forwards bit him a little here. Since his 4th line had to face the Kings' best, they also got a pretty healthy serving of Drew Doughty. Sutter's situational usage wasn't as pronounced in this one either. He still used it a bit, but Muzzin received just 2 fewer d-zone starts than Doughty. Muzzin led Kings' d-men by going +2 in chances and allowed just 1 chance against. Both of them notched scoring chances of their own at evens. All around solid night.
- 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), C+. Really, really tough night for these two. They received zero offensive zone starts and faced off against the best players that the Isles had to offer. Voynov fared alright in shot attempts, but tied Lewis for the team-worst even strength chance differential. I thought Voynov was a little rough to the eye too. He made some good plays, but he made some really bad ones too. Regehr wasn't as noticeable. Although he got rolled over in shot attempts, he was on the ice for one fewer chance against than Voynov. They once again allowed just 3 scoring chances against, but this time did it against stiffer competition while their own team wasn't as strong./
- 3rd pairing (Mitchell - Martinez), C+. While not a complete polar opposite of the 2nd pairing, it was a pretty easy night for the 3rd pairing of the Kings. They didn't see much of the Isles' most skilled players and received neutral-to-easy zone starts. Mitchell won the shot attempt battle in a big way while Martinez was a bit more average. Unfortunately, both of them went +1/-3 in chances, which isn't great. You can't put a lot on their as far as creating (or not creating) chances goes, but with the soft night they had you kinda expect better./
- Power Play, C+. Damn the process. The Kings registered just 2 scoring chances during their 3 power plays, but 1 of those chances sneaked past Kevin Poulin and trickled over the goal line to tie the game at 2 goals apiece. On a night that the whole offense looked out of sync, the power play functioned as a mirage instead of an oasis. Whenever they came upon one, you'd almost rather that they didn't. Until they scored.
- Penalty Kill, B. A little wild at times, but it worked. The Kings allowed 4 chances over 4 power plays, which seems to be about average for the season. None of those chances went in. Mike Richards (who else?) also registered a scoring chance short-handed that functioned as the catalyst for the Kings' comeback.
Ben Scrivens, C+
A good enough start. I think he probably could've at least looked better on both goals, if nothing else, but it worked out alright. He wasn't heavily tested, he was a bit shaky at times, but he did his job well enough to get us through the first night of Jonathan Quick's absence. Hopefully Sutter has learned from his lesson and avoids starting Scrivens on the 2nd night of the back-to-back. It's bad enough when he does it to Quick, but using a lesser-skilled goalie (no offense buddy) here would be a bad decision, even for a guy that thinks Trevor Lewis should be used in the shootout. Sad update before I even finish this: it looks like Scrivens is starting. Ugh.
Overall Team Performance, C+
- One of the few times this season that a team has kept up with the Kings in the possession-battle. In fact, if you use unblocked shot attempts, New York was the better team. For once, it's fortunate that the game isn't decided by shot attempts. Both teams had one very good period and the Kings happened to do more (while Kevin Poulin happened to do less) with theirs. No one was bad against the Islanders, but not one player (besides, maybe, Drew Doughty) stood out either. Still, they got the important win on the first night of a back-to-back. I'll take it./
- Extra Skater
- Coming soon: HOPEFULLY we'll do a quarter-season review of scoring chances and zone entries some time between Monday morning and Wednesday night. Stay tuned./
Our sexy tables are below. Look at them. They're so pretty.