Kings @ Stars: Grades and Analysis
The losing streak extended to four games after another loss to the Stars.
In a repeat of the game just a night prior, the Kings played increasingly worse as the game went on. Eric has your game recap here.
- 1st line (King - Kopitar - Carter), D. Normally, when players receive the tough zone starts that these three received, I am wont to give some leeway when it comes to analyzing their numbers. However, their job is to drive play out of their own zone and, at the very least, create some soft zone starts for the rest of the team. They weren't able to do that against Dallas. They were only able to generate 14 entries (as opposed to the 19 against Chicago -- in a game that was ultimately a mediocre neutral zone game for the team) against Dallas. Dallas was able to throttle Kopitar in each of the last two meetings between these two teams. While he scored a goal on Tuesday night, it was on a broken down play. /
- 2nd line (Brown - Richards - Williams), A. Excluding his obvious error against Chicago, Mike Richards has turned in a couple of excellent performances since being returned to a second line role. With very tough minutes, he and his line were able to drive play up ice in spite of moderately buried zone starts. The Kings' second line was +3 (+4/-1) in scoring chances. Richards wasn't as directly involved in the play, but it's a good sign to even see his line producing right now, as they weren't in the games leading up to this back-to-back.
- 3rd line (Clifford - Lewis - Toffoli), C. I do not like this line for Tyler Toffoli. I do not like Tyler Toffoli playing without playmakers. I don't think it's a long-term solution or anything, but it is a poor use of his current skillset. I recognize that the top six is very full right now, but you have to find a place for him along some skilled players. It may be that the only way to do that is to have Carter center a line (possibly with Richards on the wing), but I think it would work. How does this sound? 74-11-14/10-77-73/23-28-21/13-22-71? Anyway. Soft minutes, slight success, very low event hockey, almost no offense. A Trevor Lewis special.
- 4th line (Nolan - Stoll - Frattin), C. It's probably more apt to call this the third line. Sutter used them more than he used Lewis's line, which is an interesting development given that Matt Frattin was on it. Now, I was looking for him, but I liked his game. The effort was there, and I think the things that Sutter looks for were there. He wants "jam" out of Frattin, and Frattin was able to provide it. Unlike his previous decent games, his game didn't taper off as it went along. He had a generally okay night and displayed a ton of effort up and down the ice. THAT SAID...this line couldn't create a thing offensively. However, they were slathered in tough minutes and they're not noted play-drivers, so I'll cut them some slack. The fact that they kept their possession close to 50% under the circumstances they were in is a good sign. Hopefully Sutter keeps Frattin in the lineup.
- 1st pairing (Regehr - Doughty), D. Up to some old tricks. Much like the top line, they had tough minutes but it was a situation where I believe they have to overcome some of it. Instead, they had the worst possession numbers on the team and got out-chanced. I've certainly seen worse, and some of Doughty's negative numbers came with Jake Muzzin, but they weren't very good.
- 2nd pairing (Mitchell - Voynov), C. Mitchell and Voynov made up part of a very small handful of players to receive even middling zone starts, so their average possession and scoring chance numbers look about right. As I often say about Regehr, it was mostly just nice to not think about Slava Voynov very much. He was especially solid on the power play, but we'll get there momentarily.
- 3rd pairing (Muzzin - Greene), A. Surprisingly, their minutes weren't extraordinarily soft, though that was mostly because there weren't many soft minutes to go around. Everyone's zone starts were tough. Still, this pairing experienced far more success than anybody else. Muzzin was +4/-2 and Greene was +3/-0 in chances at evens. Muzzin split his time between Greene and Doughty based on the situation. Muzzin was actually more successful with Greene than Doughty. There also weren't any #DammitMuzzin headscratchers that we've become somewhat accustomed to./
- Power Play, A. A REAL 'A'!!!! THEY EARNED IT!!!!! The best way to put their night in perspective is to compare it to their counterparts (you know, the power play that scored twice against the vaunted Kings' PK). The Kings generated almost the same amount of shots and scoring chances Dallas in exactly half the power play time. They were excellent. The movement was solid, the execution was crisp, the entries were better. It was a night and day difference over what we've seen lately. Here's to hoping it's a sign of life./
Penalty Kill, F. One shows up and the other leaves. So it goes. They gave up far too much and, again, saw the ice far too often.
Ben Scrivens, F.
- I think this is a full-blown slump now. Granted, every time he's played lately has been under tough circumstances, but he isn't playing well. With the exception of Erik Cole's second goal, most of his recent goals against can be placed somewhat upon his shoulders. It's hard to be a backup, but that is his role and he needs to do it better. He was excellent when Quick initially went down, but he has been bad lately. From what I've read, it seems as if he has had to make large technical adjustments since joining the Kings, so hopefully these are just creases that need ironing out.
Overall Team Performance, C.
Mental errors seems to be the name of the game right now. Jim Fox pointed it out a few times last night. Every time they made some kind of headway territorially, they made a critical mistake to bring things back to an even playing field. Then, as the game wore on, the fact that they were on the second of a back-to-back and their third game in four nights became obvious. While I like Dallas, there isn't much excuse for generating just 1 measly scoring chance in the third period of a game you're trailing. They managed to create 2 chances in the third against Chicago and Chicago owned that period. Dallas clogged the neutral zone and the Kings had no answer. They simply ran into the wall, fell down, regathered themselves, and ran into it again for the duration of the period. It was ugly. That said, either a better goaltending performance or a more disciplined game turns a tough loss into a point at minimum. They're not playing exceptional hockey right now, but they're staying in most games. That's a good sign. They have two more tests against St. Louis and Vancouver before earning two days of rest. It's possible that they could play good hockey and lose the next two games. Thankfully they brutalized eastern Canada before this little slide. That's certainly mitigating some of the damage that has been done lately./