Stars @ Kings: Grades and Analysis

Dan Ellis leads the Kings to a win against Dallas.

Anze Kopitar. Anze Kopitar. Justin Williams. Anze Kopitar. Dan Ellis.

Eric has the game recap here.

Forward Lines

  • 1st line (Brown - Kopitar - Williams), Grade: A. You could say that I'm a little happy about their performance. After struggling for a brief spell, this line absolutely obliterated Dallas last night. The top line saw a split of Dallas's top 3 lines and pretty much killed them all. Kopitar went +13 in shot attempts against Dallas's 2nd line alone. The story doesn't get any better for Dallas elsewhere. We've heard or read complaints about Kopitar's lack of goal production this year, but if he keeps playing like he did last night, he doesn't ever have to score again. He was simply a destructive force on the ice. Williams (obviously) and Brown were also significantly better than they have been the past couple of games. Also, Dustin Brown took a shot to the dick in the 2nd period, which made me laugh for a full minute because I am a child.
  • 2nd line (Carcillo - Richards - Carter), Grade: B-. This line got good individual performances at various points throughout. Mike Richards forced a breakaway during 4v4 play. Jeff Carter logged 3 chances himself. Dan Carcillo went ANOTHER game without attempting to murder someone on the ice. Richards and Carter came out ahead in shot attempts while Carcillo lagged behind. I actually thought Carcillo was pretty bad last night while watching, and the numbers bear it out. He looked like a 4th liner in over his head.
  • 3rd line (King - Stoll - Lewis), Grade: C+. Another night for a Lewis line, another night when you could barely even tell they were there. Lewis himself actually registered 2 chances, but if you told me that Dwight King and Jarret Stoll went on a road trip to Vegas last night, I honestly wouldn't have even questioned it. The only time I noticed Jarret Stoll was when he was celebrating Kyle Clifford's hilarious goal, which we'll get to in a minute. Unfortunately, that's an improvement for Stoll. They actually just about split the possession-battle, but did it with the easiest competition of anyone on the team.
  • 4th line (Clifford - Fraser - Nolan), Grade: B-. Clifford and Nolan were pretty good. Fraser wasn't as good, nearly splitting possession (while his linemates were considerably above water) and badly losing the scoring chance battle. Now to the fun part: Kyle Clifford's goal against Dan Ellis.


  • That's right. Dan Ellis decided to protect his own face (which is inside a caged helmet, by the way) in lieu of trying to stop the puck. I've seen forwards screen goalies. I've seen defenders accidentally screen their own goalies. I have never once in my life seen a goalie screen himself with his own glove. That's amazing. Thank you Dan Ellis./

Defensive Pairings

  • 1st pairing (Regehr - Doughty), Grade: A-. If Robyn Regehr were able to box out his man on Dallas's 2nd goal, that's probably just a straight-forward A. Unfortunately, he's Robyn Regehr. Doughty and Regehr faced Dallas's top line about 50% of the time and they killed it. Doughty also continued his recent play of jumping into the cycle down low and finally got rewarded with a goal. As long as Kings' forwards remain responsible when he pinches, it's really encouraging to see finally him go down low with the puck.
  • 2nd pairing (Mitchell - Voynov), Grade: B+. Great performance from the 2nd pairing. Won possession and chances handily while receiving a healthy dose of Dallas's top 6 and average zone starts. Not necessarily noticeable, but they were very solid.
  • 3rd pairing (Muzzin - Greene), Grade: B-. They won the possession battle with tougher-than-normal zone starts and middling competition. The only downside of their game is that they gave up more chances than you'd like. The Valeri Nichushkin line (I just wanted to type that name, really. Look at that silly thing.) did pretty good work against Greene in particular. Still, a solid night for the 3rd pairing.

Special Teams

  • Power Play, Grade: B. How good did Jake Muzzin look while quarterbacking the power play that eventually made it 2-1 LA? It was almost scary. At any rate, the PP only generated 2 scoring chances all night, but they scored, so that's an improvement over anything that's happened lately. While it still needs work, the power play that scored was fun to watch. Quick puck movement and shots from dangerous areas eventually trapped Ellis on the ground and allowed Justin Williams a near-empty net (made more empty by the fact that the only covered portion of the net was covered by Dan Ellis) to shoot at. More power plays like that, less like the ones that look like skating drills, please.
  • Penalty Kill, Grade: A. Sutter said that the PK wasn't quite as spectacular, and he's right, but it was still pretty darn good. Quick came up large when called upon and the Kings rarely allowed Dallas to set up in the zone. They've been excellent lately and it continued against the Stars.

Jonathan Quick: A-.

  • There are minor, minor complaints that could be made about both of his goals against, but he was solid otherwise. On the first goal, the puck went through him. Seguin's redirection was excellent, but pucks that get through goalies pretty much never look good. On the second goal, you'd probably like to see him exert a little better control over his rebounds, especially on a soft shot like the one Jamie Benn twirled at him. Instead, he kicked it right to Rich Peverley who had a gaping net to shoot into. Still, Quick had a .909 SV% against scoring chances and really was solid all night long. Neither goal is really his fault, even if he could've done a bit more on both of them.

Overall Team Grade: A.

The Kings returned to being a dominant team in the neutral zone and on the forecheck and simply pounded the Stars into the ground. Loose defensive zone play and puck management by the Stars allowed the Kings to attack the middle of the ice from start to finish. From nearly the opening shift of the game, the Stars gave the Kings entirely too much room and the Kings took full advantage. Dallas frequently left Dan Ellis as their last line of defense, and, well, that doesn't usually work out too well. An interesting note is that it appears that Sutter has at least temporarily shifted his zone start strategy. Muzzin and Greene received a couple extra d-zone starts. Kopitar's line again received more offensive zone starts than usual.
The Numbers

  • Extra Skater
  • Scoring chances and Corsi-table below. Click to enlarge./