Red Wings @ Kings: Grades and Analysis

Despite overwhelming possession, the Kings managed to lose to Jimmy Howard, Henrik Zetterberg and the Wings.

You've read this post and watched this game before. Most recently, the Kings played Minnesota to a shootout loss. However, it's happened with enough frequency to become a source of frustration. Los Angeles dominated possession but lost the game. Eric has the full recap here.

Forward Lines

  • 1st line (King - Kopitar - Carter), A. The Red Wings had one really good line on Saturday night. The Zetterberg/Nyquist/Abdelkader created the vast majority of the offense the Wings had in the game. While that line didn't actually score a goal, it's not much of a stretch to say that the Kings would've probably throttle the Wings even more violently had Zetterberg not had the game that he did. Very simply, it was one of the elite individual performances I've watched this season. Zetterberg had has hands in on 9 scoring chances and 6 of those were at even strength. I say all of this because Kopitar drew him as a match-up most often and managed to do pretty decent work. The top line of the Kings limited its oppositon to just 4 scoring chances against while creating 6 of their own. Jeff Carter notched another 4 scoring chances of his own while Kopitar contributed to 3. Dwight King had a much quieter night.
  • 2nd line (Brown - Stoll - Williams), B. Perhaps thanks to some soft deployment, the Kings' second line obliterated its competition in terms of puck possession. Williams logged a ridiculous team-leading 88.9% corsi and Brown didn't trail terribly far behind. Similar to their performance against Boston, they probably didn't create as much tangible offense as you'd like, but they were still wildly effective./
  • 3rd line (Frattin - Richards - Toffoli), C. Rather oddly, Mike Richards received more favorable zone starts than his linemates. While Frattin and Toffoli received exactly average zone starts, Richards began the vast majority of his shifts in the offensive zone. They didn't really receive a set matchup, Sutter mostly just made sure that they (and pretty much everyone except Kopitar) didn't see Zetterberg. Even with softer competition, though, this line had some issues defensively. Detroit essentially had two extended stretches of puck control in the entire game, and Mike Richards wound up being on the ice when both began. Correlation doesn't equal causation and whatnot, but it wasn't this line's best defensive effort. On a positive note, Tyler Toffoli had an excellent neutral zone game (just a game after I said it wasn't something he'd regularly do, of course). Tyler was able to gain the line with control on 5 of his 7 zone entries. I don't think it's repeatable -- Detroit backed off of him far too much when he was able to gain the line -- but it's nice when it happens. It's mostly just good to see that he isn't completely set on dumping the puck in, even though it's going to often be a feature of his game.
  • 4th line (Clifford - Fraser - Lewis), C. Often this season, the fourth line has controlled the puck well but not produced much in the way of scoring chances. Flip that for this one. In very limited ice-time, this trio created 3 scoring chances. All three players factored into at least one chance, and Fraser led them by notching 2 of his own volition. Fraser also made an excellent pass to set up Lewis's scoring chance. They didn't play an overall great game, but it's nice to see that this line isn't completely bereft of offensive talent./

Defensive Pairings

  • 1st pairing (Muzzin - Doughty), F. Unlike some recent games, Sutter didn't use any situational shifts in his pairings and opted to just keep Muzzin at Doughty's hip. The pair received soft zone starts but spent over half their night against Henrik Zetterberg. They got smoked. Muzzin went -3 and Doughty -4. Each was on the ice for far too many chances against and neither got particularly involved offensively. Doughty did have a controlled entry, but the other pairings were far more effective at gaining the zone on the whole. Not many positives to take out of this performance.
  • 2nd pairing (Mitchell - Voynov), A. Slava Voynov played, probably, his strongest game of the season on Saturday. He showed much more poise in gaining the zone, carrying the puck in twice and making attempts at the net on both of those entries. They weren't gimmes, either. He had to make extremely skilled plays to gain the line on both occasions. He also factored into a pair of scoring chances aside from that. Mitchell was also extremely effective at gaining the line given our normal expectations for him. He dumped the puck in 4 times and the Kings were able to create 5 shots from those entries. Nothing mind-blowing, but it was a very effective night.
  • 3rd pairing (Regehr - Martinez), C. I wasn't extremely fond of Regehr's game, but he wasn't the active detriment to the team that he has been at times. He also ALMOST logged a scoring chance. HE WAS SO CLOSE!!! The pairing received pretty soft minutes so their positive shot differential numbers are moderately expected. However, they struggled a bit defensivly and wound up just +1 (+5/-4). Neither player did much to stand out. Just an average night./

Special Teams

  • Nothing happening. Almost serious here. The Kings generated just a single scoring chance (Doughty's 5v3 goal) in spite of a fair amount of shot attempts (13 in 6.6 minutes). Detroit had just one dangerous flurry near the end of the second period that resulted in 3 scoring chances. Other than that, 14.6 minutes of special teams play would've been a good time to make a snack or go to the bathroom or something. The same problems plagued the Kings' PP that have been for a while. If they gain the zone with any semblance of control, they have success. They're just not doing that very successfully right now./

Jonathan Quick, D.

  • The game-winning goal was unacceptable, plain and simple. Bad line change, blah blah blah. He faced an easy shot that he not only muffed but then actually kicked straight to Tomas Tatar. Can't happen. He wasn't tested very hard (Detroit missed the net a lot with their scoring opportunities) and can't really be faulted on 2 of the 3 goals Detroit scored, but the game-winner was a dagger that he can't let happen. /

Overall Team Performance, B.

  • I didn't have any problem with the Kings' offensive game. I heard Jim Fox mention once that he felt like the Kings didn't really threaten, and I don't agree with that. The Kings pushed very hard and made Jimmy Howard work for a lot of his saves. They created second opportunities, the moved the puck well, they penetrated the defense. They did everything right in the offensive zone. However, they weren't great defensively and they didn't get the goaltending they needed to win. It wasn't the elite-ish performance they put forth in the 3 games prior, but it was still a game that they should probably have won. So it goes.

The Numbers

  • Apologies again for the spelling errors that probably riddle this post.
    Extra Skater/