Rangers @ Kings: Grades and Analysis
Jonathan Quick was really very good in this game.
The Kings had another strong first period against New York, but were again plagued by a rough ten minute stretch.
Eric has the game story here.
- 1st line (Brown - Kopitar - Williams), Grade: B-. The top line primarily matched with the top line of New York, although they were not hard-matched against each other. This line also saw significant time against the 2nd and 3rd lines of New York. They did a commendable job. The trio came out slightly ahead in the possession battle and, at worst, came out even in chances. Unfortunately, they failed to produce a goal. While it was a respectable game for this line, I think we'd all like to see them produce a bit more than they did in this one. On a team that lacks scoring depth like LA, the top line really needs to go. We know this line CAN go. It's time for them to show it.
- 2nd line (Frattin - Richards - Carter), Grade: F. A complete failure for a line that at least produced some offense in the first 2 games of the season. This line continued to be a complete disaster in its own zone, yielding *9* chances at even strength. At various times, poor passing and puckhandling from all three forwards led to turnovers which in turn led to scoring chances. While Richards did feed Muzzin for the only goal of the game at 4v4 in the 2nd period, it did little to account for this line's poor play throughout the rest of the game. While I initially advocated keeping this line together -- they were the only line that created some semblance of offense in the first 2 games -- I take no issue with Sutter splitting these three up against Ottawa. While Sutter would probably say he was attempting to create a more balanced lineup (which is true, no doubt), this line simply couldn't overcome its issues in its own zone through three games. They may be put together at some point again this season, but don't be surprised if it doesn't happen for awhile.
- 3rd line (King - Stoll - Lewis), Grade: D+. An improvement! Unfortunately, they were still pretty pedestrian. It's unlikely that this particular line will ever be very dynamic, but King and Stoll are playing as poorly as they ever have in Kings' uniforms. On the bright side for these three, they did take control of the possession battle. However, that is mitigated by a complete inability to create offense. Stoll was the only of the three even on the ice for a scoring chance, and he had nothing to do with the play. In spite of this line's positive shot attempt numbers, they lost the scoring chance battle across the board. It is, once again, no surprise that Sutter split up this line.
- 4th line (Clifford - Fraser - Nolan), Grade: C+. Another respectable effort from the 4th line. While Colin Fraser (-3 shot attempts, -2 chances) ended up seeing the press box for the next game, Clifford and Nolan each came out even or better in possession and chances. Nolan in particular was impressive. In the third period, while the game was still slightly up in the air, Nolan made a strong move at the blue line that crossed up a Rangers' defenseman and sent him sprawling to the ice. Nolan then drove to the net and made a decent move only to get bested by Henrik Lundqvist. It's early, but Nolan's start is encouraging. He's put together a bit of offense in each game and has avoided the troubles that plagued him for most of the 2013 season. Clifford had a quiet but passable game as well.
- 1st pairing (Regehr - Doughty), Grade: F. A brutal game marked by giveaways. Doughty was bad and Regehr had a banner game if you think the Kings need to push for the 1st overall pick in the draft. An ugly giveaway caused by Doughty trying to do too much led to the first Rangers goal. At one point, Regehr managed to give the puck away twice in just a matter of seconds, one of those requiring a Ranger to almost literally skate the puck off of his stick as he was only slightly distinguishable from a man stuck in stasis. These two saw the excellent Nash-Richards-Stepan line a lot and were just dreadful at trying to stop them. Rick Nash personally registered a whopping 6 scoring chances and Doughty/Regehr were on the ice for 4 of them. This pair had a tough assignment but didn't get tasked with an excess of defensive zone starts. Doughty and Regehr were each on the ice for 10 scoring chances against at even strength and came out behind in possession. Doughty also spent 6 minutes in the box. There really isn't a single positive to take out of the game they played.
- 2nd pairing (Mitchell - Voynov), Grade: D. It was an ugly game for all of the bright young defensemen of the Kings. Voynov had a couple of high profile gaffes of his own, including an accidental own goal. This line drew an easier assignment, didn't bleed chances and didn't take bad penalties, but they struggled to drive play. Voynov in particular was quiet. I didn't actually have much issue with Mitchell's game. He obviously relies on the offensive-minded partner of his duo to provide some offensive spark and Voynov didn't have a lot in the tank on this night.
- 3rd pairing (Muzzin - Greene), Grade: B-. I thought Sutter picked an odd time to drop Muzzin from the lineup, as he really didn't have that bad of a game. He made some mistakes, but nothing worse than those of Doughty's, Regehr's or Voynov's. Muzzin's pairing, while receiving typically-easy minutes, was the only of the three to come out ahead in possession or chances and they did so handily. Muzzin was on the ice for a goal against, but that came with Voynov as his partner and that probably shouldn't happen very often. Muzzin also scored the only Kings' goal of the game. It obviously appears to be the case, but the battle shouldn't be between Martinez and Muzzin. The battle should be between Regehr and his hilarious ears as he looks in the mirror while trying on suits to wear in the press box.
- Power Play, Grade: F. Rough game for the power play. They really struggled to get anything going after a couple of promising games to start the season. In fact, they came out dead even in scoring chance differential (+2/-2). They also gave up a completely unacceptable shorthanded goal. You just can't leave a talented player like Ryan McDonagh unmarked in the scoring area like that.
- Penalty Kill, Grade: A. Unquestionably solid game for the PK. New York managed just 1 shot and scoring chance over 3 power plays. The Kings countered that with 2 chances of their own. Trevor Lewis squared up the post on a late-second period breakaway that could've tied the game.
Goaltending, Grade: B
Your eyes don't deceive you. I had no real problem with Quick's game. I have trouble faulting goalies for goals that aren't real hockey plays. McDonagh's shorthanded goal was a complete fluke that isn't representative of Quick at all. While he's had a few hilarious moments in his career, they don't make him who he is. Put in a different way: Vesa Toskala isn't terrible because he let a 197-foot bouncer squeak through him; Vesa Toskala is terrible AND HE ALSO let a 197-foot bouncer squeak through him. Quick isn't going to be good or bad because of the few, high-profile mistakes he makes but rather the consistency with which he is a capable goalie. He was very capable on this night. He made saves on 13 of the 14 NYR chances that were directed on net. Neither of the goals that came on non-scoring chances are reflective of him as a goalie, so I'm not going to use them to make him look bad. If he gives up more goals like the floater he conceded to Evander Kane, then I'll be upset. Still... Come on! Seriously? What the hell, man?
Total Team Grade: D
I was kind to this team about its performance against Winnipeg, but I won't be this time. There simply wasn't an excuse for the dismal effort put forward after the first period, especially considering that they were trailing. At a time when the Kings should have been pushing, New York dictated the play. Even worse, they failed to rally behind their workhorse and perhaps, somehow, got flatter after Quick's unfortunate adventure into the faceoff circle. A late push -- after the game had essentially been decided -- evened up some possession metrics, but did little to mask the listless effort put forth earlier in the game. They had a strong start to the game, which is good. However, this made back to back games with an extended stretch of play where the Kings were pretty much nowhere to be found. They didn't register a scoring chance in the 2nd (while down in the game!) until the 12:10 mark when Muzzin cut the Rangers' lead in half.
Extra Skater has all the stats you could ever want EXCEPT SCORING CHANCES which are below.
Notes: Jeff Carter had a team-high 3 scoring chances; Dustin Brown, Mike Richards and (lol) Jordan Nolan had 2 apiece; Kopitar, Muzzin, Lewis, and Stoll also had chances. Matt Frattin set up 2 chances; Kopitar, Richards and Stoll each set up 1. Full scoring chance report can be found here. If it doesn't display properly at first, just hit the refresh page and it should.