Kings vs Sharks Game 7: Grades and Analysis
The Kings breezed through their 6th playoff series in a row last night.
The Kings jumped out to a 2 goal lead in game 7 resulting from strong play in the first two periods. They withstood an onslaught of shots from the Sharks in the final frame and will await the winner of Detroit versus Chicago.
For a recap of last game including highlights and more: click here.
- 1st line (Brown/Clifford-Kopitar-Williams), Grade: B. They had a very difficult assignment in game 7. They spent just about all of their time against the Sharks formidable top 6 while also starting 12 of their shifts in the defensive zone as opposed to only 2 in the offensive end. Darryl Sutter started off the game with Clifford on the left side, but switched it up about midway through the 2nd and moved Brown back up to the top unit. The line actually did quite well with Clifford as they only allowed 1 attempt while registering 2. They had a rougher time with Brown (+5/-12) on board but most of that had to due with score effects. Before the score affected 3rd period the line had been playing solid low event hockey and were breaking even in attempts and chances. The one matchup they struggled with was against the Boyle pairing, which had them hemmed in their zone for long stretches. Justin Williams was the sole offensive force on this line. He registered 3 scoring chances and one EV goal. In addition, he was very active in skating the puck out of the defensive zone and also gaining the offensive end with possession. His performance last night provided a huge boost to a line that had been stagnant at times this series.
- 2nd Line (Penner-Richards-Carter), Grade: C. Accorded a similar role as the 1st line but without the extreme difference in zone starts. They struggled mightily against the Couture line. In 5.6 minutes against Couture, they weren’t able to attempt a single shot while allowing 11. In spite of being buried in the possession battle overall, they didn’t allow many scoring chances and actually ended up out-chancing the Sharks 3 to 2. So they were adept at playing a counterpunching style where they gave up a lot of zone time, kept shots to the outside and made the most of their shots in the offensive zone. Definitely not a sustainable strategy, but luckily for them it won’t have to be…at least not against San Jose.
- 3rd Line (King-Lewis-Brown/Richardson), Grade: A. Trevor Lewis really impressed in this series. He seamlessly shifted and took over the 3rd line center job after Stoll’s injury. If not for his play in the series, the Kings likely would be cleaning out their lockers. Lewis was solid again in this one as he and his linemates saw most of their time against the Sharks top unit. And in that matchup they performed much better than the Richards line and were actually able to stay above water. This line’s primary focus is defense and in that role only allowed one scoring chance to the opposition. They were able to generate a lot more offense when Brown was present on the line, but even after Richardson took over at RW, they allowed shots at a more suppressed rate which is impressive given that San Jose was then playing from behind.
- 4th Line (Richardson/Clifford-Fraser-Toffoli), Grade: C. Spent nearly all of their time matched against the opposing 4the line and played low event hockey. They were only on ice for 6 minutes as Sutter primarily rolled 3 lines.
- Regehr-Doughty, Grade: B. Drew Doughty was charged with shutting down Joe Thornton and thrived. When Doughty was on ice against Thornton, the Sharks were only able to attempt 4 shots and register one scoring chance. Conversely, the Kings were able to record 4 chances in this situation and 5 with Doughty on-ice overall. The two were a bit shakier than normal in getting the puck out as they combined for several defensive zone turnovers. These were mainly against the Couture line which gave them fits in fewer minutes. Still, a solid effort overall for the top pair.
- Scuderi-Voynov, Grade B. Rob Scuderi had a solid effort tonight and had the best scoring chance differential among defensemen. Slava Voynov started a whopping 15 of his shifts in the defensive end while only starting two in the offensive zone. He also spent 48% of his minutes against the Couture line. While he did surrender a lot of zone time to the Sharks top unit, that didn’t translate to a lot of quality chances. Overall, Voynov only allowed 3 scoring chances. Early in the series Voynov had been seeing a lot of time against Thornton and got beaten up. Since Matt Greene has been back, this has allowed him to keep Voynov away from Thornton and match him against the smaller, speedier Couture line. A move which seemingly helped the Kings cut down on the amount of scoring chances the Sharks were able to produce.
- Muzzin-Greene, Grade A. Jake Muzzin took a poor penalty with 10:59 to go in the 2nd. After that he only saw about 3 minutes of ice time. Sutter went with Scuderi and Greene as his 3rd pair in the latter half of the game and matched them against Joe Thornton. Overall the 3rd pair did their job and suppressed scoring chances while not giving up too much in possession. Matt Greene ended the game having only allowed one scoring chance and a -1 in the possession battle.
- Power Play, A. Only 3 minutes of power play time but they made it count with a goal on 3 shots and a scoring chance.
- Penalty Kill, N/A. The Sharks were only on the power play for a minute and a half, which in and of itself was a huge boost to the Kings chances in winning game 7. In that time, L.A. allowed 2 shots and on scoring chance. /
- Grade: A. All of the Sharks 11 scoring chances were also shots on goal and Jonathan Quick stopped all of them. The goal allowed wasn't recorded as a scoring chance, it was a goal on a shot from the point not resulting from rapid puck movement or traffic in front. It looked like Quick just lost sight of it and reacted a spilt second too late. His play after that goal was stellar robbing the Sharks on several grade A chances. Quick was without a doubt the best player in this series.
Overall Team Grade: B+.
- The Kings were very strong in the first two periods, which is what got them the win. They out-attempted the Sharks 27-25 and out chanced them 7-5 at evens in the first two periods. Their effort in the second period where they recorded 6 chances is what put them over the top. After that it was up to the defense and Jonathan Quick’s goaltending to shut down the Sharks and hold on.
- It’s also interesting to note that if you look at the shot chart linked below, you’ll see that after scoring their first goal, the Kings actually started accumulating more shots. They didn’t immediately go into a shell and kept pushing instead. That resulted in the 2nd goal which proved to be the game winner.
If you're unfamiliar with shot attempts and scoring chances, check out these links to see why they are important: Corsi -Scoring Chances.
Even Strength - On-Ice Player Stats
|NAME||ATTEMPTS FOR||ATTEMPTS AGAINST||ATTEMPT +/-||CHANCES FOR||CHANCES AGAINST||CHANCE +/-|
|MATT GREENE (A)||8||9||-1||2||1||1|
|ANZE KOPITAR (A)||10||18||-8||2||4||-2|
|DUSTIN BROWN (C)||12||16||-4||2||5||-3|
Even Strength - Team Stats
|PERIOD||ATTEMPTS FOR||ATTEMPTS AGAINST||ATTEMPT +/-||CHANCES FOR||CHANCES AGAINST||SCORING CHANCE +/-|
|Total||35||44||-9||10 (11)*||8 (11)||+2 (0)|
*Numbers in parenthesis indicate chances at all strengths
Click the buttons to reveal fancy charts.