Kings @ Maple Leafs: Grades and Analysis

Kings gonna Leaf.

Sometimes you dominate and lose, other times you get dominated and win. It hasn't been often in the past few seasons that we can put a game in the latter category, so it makes perfect sense for it to happen against one of the worst possession teams in the league. Eric has the recap here.

Forward Lines

  • 1st line (King - Kopitar - Carter), F. This game marks just the 7th time this season that Kopitar has lost the possession battle. While I'd like to chalk it up to something more than just fatigue, I don't see a real reason. He got rather neutral minutes, especially by some of the standards that he's succeeded with before. His primary match-up was against the Lupul/Holland/Kulemin line. As much as I like Kulemin defensively, he isn't that good. Kopitar went a miserable +1/-5 in scoring chances and his linemates were even worse./
  • 2nd line (Brown - Stoll - Williams), B. Pretty much the lone forward group that got any offense going in Toronto. All three forwards went +5/-2 in EV chance +/-. They were the only three forwards in the top nine to come up with at least 50% of shot attempts. Sutter did give them fairly soft zone starts and their competition wasn't top notch, so you might hope for a little more possession time, but they did alright work. That "alright" work looks even better compared to the rest of the team. It's worth noting that they saw a lot of time against the Paul Ranger/Mark Fraser pairing for the Leafs. Both of them should be in the AHL.
  • 3rd line (Clifford - Richards - Toffoli), F. About as poor a performance as the top line, somehow. They did get significantly more difficult minutes by seeing a lot more of the Kessel line than the top unit did, but that doesn't excuse such a paltry performance. Cliffords and Toffoli were each +1/-5 in chances while Richards came out slightly behind even those pitiful numbers. While their zone starts were fairly neutral, it's worth noting that they saw the highest volume of defensive zone starts among forwards./
  • 4th line (Carcillo - Fraser - Nolan), B. Randy Carlyle did two things with the 4th line of the Kings: he tried to hide his embarrassing 4th line behind them and he tried to exploit them with his top line. As far as the latter goes, the Kings' muckers and grinders did a pretty commendable job. In limited ice-time they did a pretty solid job of keeping the game uneventful. All three players were even in chances. If you told me that they were going to play just under half their night against the Leafs' top line and not blow the game, I might have laughed in your face. So give credit where it's due: the 4th line -- even before Fraser left the game -- was decent.

Defensive Pairings

  • 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), D. Sutter did a lot of juggling in his defense pairs, perhaps in an attempt to frustrate Randy Carlyle, who goes hard after matchups. While their zone start numbers are pretty comparable, Doughty and Muzzin ended up with significantly different scoring chance numbers. Doughty was just -1 at evens while Muzzin tied for a team-worst by going -5. Overall, their game wasn't particularly strong. They struggled in a large way to contain the top line of the Leafs. Though their competition was admittedly very difficult, they received soft zone starts. With this top pairing -- or any top pairing, for that matter -- average can never be a kind word to describe their game, but it was against the Maple Leafs.
  • 2nd pairing (Regehr - Voynov), C-. I'm much more willing to cut this pairing some slack given that it was their second consecutive night of slogging through deep mud. Though they got out-shot badly and out-chanced a bit, their minutes were of the absurd variety. Voynov had the most difficult zone starts on the team -- Regehr was slightly sheltered -- and often squared off with the Kessel line, so his -4 in chances and ugly possession numbers are rather expected. He wasn't aided by his forwards at all, as they struggled to move through the neutral zone all night long. I'd place little of the blame on his or any defender's shoulders. /
  • 3rd pairing (Mitchell - Martinez), B. Mitchell was a valuable cog in the machine in Toronto, as Sutter utilized him up and down the lineup. Of his 19 EV minutes, nearly half came apart from his set defensive partner in Martinez. He played around 4 minutes with each of Voynov and Doughty. He was also the only defender (and one of just four Kings total) to come out ahead in scoring chances at evens. When you consider that most of his minutes throughout the rest of the lineup probably started in the defensive zone (Mitchell received 7 d-zone starts to Martinez's 2), that's pretty impressive. His 45.9 CF% would be unimpressive on most other nights, but not this one./

Special Teams

  • Power Play, A? One power play, one shot, one goal. Amazing execution. Our problems are over. (Or not, whatever.)/
  • Penalty Kill, B. A good night undone by too many penalties. That never happens to the Kings. The Kings likely would have had another stellar night had Drew Doughty not taken an ill-advised penalty to put the Kings down two men. So it goes.

Martin Jones, A.

  • Unlike a game prior, Jones was forced to be excellent for an entire night instead of just one period. The Leafs notched at least 5 scoring chances in every period and 19 overall. Toronto brought a lot of heat, but Jones kept his cool. He most certainly played better on this night than he did in his first shutout. His performance against the Leafs marked the 11th time this season the Kings have gotten a perfect performance at 5v5 play from their goalie and #Joner's third effort of such caliber in succession. Jonathan Quick and Ben Scrivens have each recorded 4 such performances, but both ahve nearly 4x the games played that Jones has. I know it's hard to tell with his other numbers like the sub 1.00 GAA and save percentage like a mainstream FM radio station, but Jones has been real effective so far.

Overall Team Performance, D

  • The Kings did not earn this one. Exemplifying regression to the mean almost as well as the Leafs have in general this season, good fortune found its way to the LA bench on Wednesday night. Timely scoring and dominant goaltending paved the path to success on a night that their typically sound defensive and possession games needed considerable work. They played like the tired team that they probably are. If they are fatigued, Saturday's matinee against the Senators is even more important than it was before. It's crucial that they take 2 points in Ottawa before heading to Chicago to play the vaunted Hawks just over 24 hours later.

The Numbers

  • Extra Skater
  • The individual scoring chance performance table is now sorted by unit./