Senators @ Kings: Grades and Analysis
The Kings won a game in overtime against a good team but they did it kinda ugly-like so let's get mad at the team and call them bad names.
The Kings jumped out to an early lead, but allowed the Senators to climb back in the score-effected game. Dustin Brown pulled out the winner in overtime. Although they blew a 3-goal lead, I would call this the best performance of the Kings' season.
Eric has the full recap here.
- 1st line (Brown - Kopitar - Williams), Grade: B. The top line of the Kings garnered a heavy dose of Ottawa's top line. Even though their task was made slightly easier by not having to deal with Jason Spezza, the top line did not do very well in their toughest matchup. The Turris line actually came out slightly ahead in the possession battle. However, Kopitar's line won the battle against the rest of the Senators and came out a positive. The top line also was extremely effective defensively, holding the opposition to just one scoring chance. However, it was another average game for the top line offensively. Still looking for more here.
- 2nd line (Carcillo - Richards - Carter), Grade: A. The defensive woes that marred this line's performance to start the season dissipated with the addition of Dan Carcillo. This seems like an important time to reiterate an old statistical standby: correlation does not equal causation. With that said, it was an excellent game for these three. Ottawa did not register one scoring chance at even strength while these three were on the ice. Carter's game-winning goal also, technically, came at even strength. Also, to my surprise, Dan Carcillo did not remove his skate blade and try to stab somebody. A big positive, in my opinion.
3rd line (Clifford - Lewis - Frattin), Grade: C-. Clifford and Frattin joined the fray and did little to change the fortunes of this line. This line split most of its matchups with the top two lines of Ottawa. Unfortunately, it didn't matter much who they faced, as this unit continued to struggle supporting the top two lines offensively. Thankfully, Frattin didn't carry over the defensive woes that plagued the second line while he was there. This unit gave up just 2 chances at even strength. That did account for 66% of Ottawa's scoring chances at evens, but it's still a decent enough effort in that regard. However, they badly lost the possession battle and only created 1 scoring chance of their own.
- 4th line (King - Stoll - Nolan), Grade: Grade: B-. Solid but quiet night for the 4th line. They didn't create or allow a single chance at evens, but did control possession (with an easy matchup and soft zone starts, as always). In fact, Jarret Stoll was the only of the three to be on the ice for a scoring chance at any situation in the entire game. I doubt we see Stoll on the 4th line for long, but I like the idea of this line. King in a 4th line role is about right, we know that much. Stoll might be at that point in his career himself. Nolan continued a nice string of play to start the year./
- 1st pairing (Regehr - Doughty), Grade: C-. A step up for this pairing but certainly nothing special. They did hold Ottawa to 0 chances against, but Ottawa only had 3 chances at evens in the game any way. Probably a two-way street here. The Kings' defense was good and the Senators' offense was bad. This pairing split its matchup against the top two lines of Ottawa and did so with neutral zone starts. They lost possession pretty handily in their battles with both of those lines. However, again, a solid defensive performance. Regehr also was able to skate around from time to time in this game. Can't expect that every game going forward, but it's nice when it happens.
2nd pairing (Mitchell - Voynov), Grade: A. A huge rebound game for Voynov and Mitchell. These two also had most of their time come against the top two lines of Ottawa. This pairing very cleanly won possession while they were on the ice, with perhaps the best shot attempt performance of the game for anyone on the team. They did allow 2 scoring chances against, but were on the ice for 3 chances by the Kings. Voynov has received criticism from Sutter in the media, but a few more performances like this one will grant Voynov all of his responsibilities back. Voynov saw just 10 seconds of power play time in the game.
3rd pairing (Martinez - Greene), Grade: B. Alec Martinez made his season debut after Jake Muzzin was somewhat inexplicably scapegoated and scratched following the NYR game. As always, the third pairing received the easiest matchup and very soft zone starts, and they excelled again. Martinez in particular had a strong performance and even received some power play time. I'm not sure there's any real tinkering to be done with this pairing (regardless of who's in the lineup between Muzzin and Martinez). Sutter uses them well and gets as much out of his depth defenders as he can. He has to start getting more consistent work out of the top 4 defensemen. If their play doesn't improve soon, I'd expect some changes./
- Power Play, Grade: A+. Can't argue with the goals. Thankfully, the process matched the results all night long and even culminated in the Kings' scoring the winner in overtime (although the power play expired mere moments before Carter tipped the puck home). They notched 7 scoring chances on the power play in the game, and their puck possession was strong enough to generate two 5-on-3 opportunities..
- Penalty Kill, Grade: C-. The only difference between the power play for the Kings and Senators in this one was an ability to finish. Ottawa picked up 7 scoring chances of their own, but converted just one of them into a goal. It could be argued that the chances Ottawa allowed were of higher quality, but that's a pretty irrelevant argument to make. The Kings' PK can be and has been better. /
Goaltending, Grade: C+
Quick wasn't bad, and certainly made some very nice saves. Ultimately, it's a good bounce back from his faux pas against New York, but we know he can be better. Quick struggled to fight through traffic on each of the last two Ottawa goals, both of which went over his head. While all 3 Ottawa goals came on quality scoring chances, the Pageau goal at the very least was stoppable (and Quick nearly did stop it, for that matter). The last goal was a tough one and it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Quick sees the shot through the amalgam of humanity in front of him. That still leaves Bobby Ryan's goal, a goal for which he was not heavily screened. There was a bit of traffic created by Willie Mitchell, but not much else. Quick never seemed to get a bead on it. Again, decent bounce back, but he can be a lot better.
Overall Team Grade: B+
A lot of fans seem upset by the way this game ended, but I don't think that's appropriate. For one, the game was very score-effected. We mention this a lot at JftC, but it almost always bears repeating. When teams go up by a goal or two or three, the odds shift against them continuing their success for a few reasons. Whether it be their own shifting strategy, the opposing team's shifting strategy or just the natural psychology that guides us to take the foot off the pedal when something seems in hand, the ice tilts in the favor of the team that is trailing the majority of the time. That absolutely happened in this game. The Kings had an excellent first period and became an average team from then on. Ottawa wasn't particularly impressive. They didn't dominate play for long stretches as New York and Winnipeg did before them. They just hung around and found the back of the net. The Kings weren't overwhelmed by the oncoming tide of the game, the bounces just seemed to go for Ottawa.
It should also be remembered that Ottawa is actually a very good team and there's a very good chance they make a deep playoff run if they can keep Jason Spezza healthy. Without their best forward and defenseman for most of last season, they were a formidable possession club that made it to the second round of the playoffs before falling to the Penguins. They play excellent defense and it's no surprise that they were able to stifle the Kings, especially after the Kings had gone up 3-0. Don't stare a gift horse in the mouth: the Kings took two points from a good team and did it without using the shootout. It was a good night.
Extra Skater has the game stats. It was the best game of the season for the Kings in terms of possession. The scoring chances are below.
Notes: Brown and Carter each registered a team-high 4 chances; Doughty had 3 chances; Kopitar had 2; Richards had 1. Richards set up 5 (!) chances; Carter set up 2; and Brown set up 1. Good offensive performance by the depth forwards. Also worth noting that I didn't count the last goal as a chance as the shot originated from the point. It's borderline, but I tend to not give deflections the scoring chance distinction unless they're more intentional or easier to guide to specific spots. Carter seemed to just let it hit his stick and it happened to find the net.
Full scoring chance report can be found here. Hit refresh if it doesn't load properly the first time.