One And Done; One And Not Done – Kings v. Blues 5-4-2013

Last game it was seconds that were wild. In this game the operative number is 1; 1 goal, and 1 win. Neither is going to be enough if the Kings are going to win this series.

This game looked like 2 cats locked in a box, except it was 10 cats. The Kings had set various goals, having described how to improve their game, what it would take to win, and the ways individual players could improve. Well, it would be nice to say that all those goals were met leading to this glorious victory, however, at Hold The Point truth is the coin of the realm.

The X Ray has a red box; other than that…

5-4-2013-St Louis Game 3b

The Kings won without meeting most of those goals. Again,though, one goal was enough. The “bright side” outlook would be to say that the Kings won despite having not met the needs for improvements as were stated pre-game. I’m gonna go with that, cuz they won.

The Kings said they needed to score first, and they did. Goal met.

The Kings said they needed to feed off the home crowd energy and come out with a fast start. Nope, St. Louis had the fast start.

The Kings said they needed to be better on the Power Play. Nope, as the #1 unit looked clumsy and tentative even with a long 5 on 3.

The Kings said they needed to work faster out of their zone, and get more speed thru center. Nope, for the most part, as St. Louis successfully deflected and contained the Kings rushes.

Anze Kopitar said he needed to shoot more, and everyone else said Kopitar needs to shoot more, as they tried to collar the gorilla in the room and the gorilla on Kopi’s back that was an 18 game goal drought.┬áNope-and-a-half: Kopi has now gone 19 games, most likely because he did not get a single shot on goal. You gotta be mighty damn good to score without shooting, it’s very rare. I question that tactic.

The Kings said they needed to be better on the faceoffs, and they were better, however improving from 40.2% over the first two games to 49% in this game is not winning the faceoff battle. Sticking with the “bright-side” version, I am gonna say that the trend line of 36% in Game 1 to 45% in Game 2 to 49% in Game 3 is promising.

The Kings said they needed more shots, and more screens. Nope. The Kings were outshot badly, as St. Louis tallied 30 shots and also missed the net often, while the Kings got only 21 shots and let 14 shots be blocked.

The Kings said they needed more play on the “inside” in the “tough areas” around the crease. I’m gonna go with a 3/4 Nope on this, because the scramble that produced the goal came off this very type of play. For the most part, the game was played along the boards in the Blues zone.

The Blues probably had goals, too, such as getting traffic, having a good Power Play, stuffing the Kings on attack, hitting effectively, cycling in the offensive zone and coming off the cycle for strong shot attempts, and not allowing second chances off rebounds. They did all that, and did it well. If I am the Blues, I know that I played a winning style, and that the game was better played by my team.

The Kings were 4 of 4 on the penalty kill: I have no idea how. Quick was great, but there were at least 5 open nets not taken advantage of, most of them on the Blues Power Play. Again, it would be nice to say that the Kings PK was dominant, and in truth that did happen but only on the final St. Louis PP; prior to that, the Blues just fired wide or barely missed off of the bad ice.

There is more work to be done. The Kings have not solved the Blues riddle yet. If anything, this game showed that the Kings, when not even at their best, can still win. They do not want to rely on playing less than their best but still winning, as the series continues.

Coach Sutter, for the first time as a Kings coach, dressed 7 defensemen. Jordan Nolan was sat out, Martinez took a mostly regular shift with Scuderi. Regehr stayed with Doughty, but Voynov was paired with Muzzin, and Ellerby was platooned in mostly on PK and then for the odd shift on defensive zone draws.

One of the by-products of the unusual line-up was a rather comical too-many-men penalty where the Kings skated 6 guys for a shift before it was noticed, during which they made a one-player change to maintain the 6 on 5 advantage. We had 6 guys but nobody on the bench had even noticed, so when somebody got tired and came off the 6th guy was allowed to re-join the attack.

Another by-product of using just the 11 forwards was that the right wingers were cycled in with Fraser and Clifford to fill out the 4th line. With all due respect to the excellent work Jim Fox does in keeping track of EVERYTHING as it happens, and talking about it on TV, between promotional messages and going to commercials and preparing video replays, Fox emphatically mis-called the shifts for Fraser and Clifford by repeatedly saying that Williams was given the first “double-shift” on the 4th line because Williams had been the best Kings forward. In fact, Carter took the first shift, Williams the second, and Lewis the third. Over the full game, Lewis took 2 of those shifts, Carter 3 and Williams 4.

The decisions on the Power Play are becoming an issue with me. The Kings have looked awful on the PP, and Sutter is not adjusting. Doughty is being given free rein, doing double duty on both units. Doughty is playing the Left Point with Richards on the #1 unit, and with Voynov on the #2 unit. Both units are comprised of what I have called the “all-star” groupings of players from various lines.

When guys are playing together only under specialized circumstances, chemistry can be difficult to develop. It is not working. There are viable options, as the past has shown, that include going with straight line combinations for the forwards on the Power Play, and also putting Muzzin out there with Voynov instead of giving Doughty the full 2 minutes exclusively.

While I am discussing personnel, I have to say that I am baffled by everything about Dwight King. He does not score, he does not assist, he does not have speed on attack and is not making “Power Forward” moves on attack, either. I am also seeing him slow down into hits, whether he is delivering them or not. King needs to use his size much better: the only real way to say it is he is soft on contact. That is not gonna do well against St. Louis.

Defensively, King was very good with Stoll and Lewis, but that line is clearly carried by the two latter and not the one former. I suppose the idea is to inject his defensive ability onto the Richards/Carter line, as that line has been looking for a left wing all season to shore up their D-zone play. I would much rather see Richardson in the line-up than Fraser, but if not then Richardson could also replace King.

Bottom line here is that the Kings won the game, but not by being more effective in many critical areas. Sutter has yet to settle on a consistent line-up, and for good reason. The pieces are available, but the Blues are possessed, very deep, and are proving very difficult to outplay. The Kings incremental improvements will absolutely have to continue, or it will be one and done for them in this series.

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16 Responses to One And Done; One And Not Done – Kings v. Blues 5-4-2013

  1. Mik3ysfv says:

    …..she will too. Just not on game night. I am a male, I’m good for one or two nights, three tops.
    That being said, I agree with your game analysis. The King’s need to improve their breakouts, and there is no way kolkatar and Richards should be being outplayed.
    I did not sit down for a second after Justin Williams’ brilliant backcheck. Where is Anthonyy now? I know that s.o.b. is trolling under a new name. You remember, the clown that wanted POS instead of Justin Williams…

  2. Mik3ysfv says:

    F’ing typos. This stupid voice dictation will not allow me to say Kopitar.
    Example: On Seiko Petar Stupid phone

  3. Mik3ysfv says:

    Hey, ‘X. How big of a believer are you in Fenwick/Corsi?
    I wonder what those metrics have to say about this series. To be honest I have not been able to watch very much of it do to said car problems which led to having to spend the night somewhere where people don’t believe in hockey, if you can believe that. The other time, my friend James came over and was the chatty Kathy and I caught about maybe 30 seconds of the game. So what is it now kama about a month running I haven’t been able to watch the game in full? From what I have seen your analysis is spot on. I am going early with a two-goal performance from Kopi, red box to Richards. I have jabbered enough for this morning

    • Mik3ysfv says:

      Oh, my other phone problem: apparently “,” = kama. I swear I am getting a speech impediment complex.

    • Player X says:

      Not a big fan of the Corsi world. I don’t discount the relevance entirely, but I think they are a small part of a very big picture. Hockey has too many variables in style of play, system, linemates, etc., for “sabermetrics” styled analysis to apply directly. In baseball, it’s an individual sport when it comes to actual performance. In hockey, 9 other people influence your stats too much to allow a clear picture of what one player can do, so the results are relative. I guess I would prefer if stats looked at lines and pairs, rather than single players. As in, if these guys played together, all their stats were more favorable than with different guys previously.

  4. LomitaKingsFan says:

    Good seeing you after the game last night X. Agree with most everything you said, although I slightly digress with your opinion on King. He has been effective on the forecheck getting the other team to cough up pucks for Richards and Carter. But his lack of offensive skill handcuffs the second line putting too much pressure on Richards and Carter. Might be time to move Penner back to that line. With that being said though…

    Penner is looking like the pancakes of last years playoffs. He is moving his legs and using his bulk to his advantage. Good plays with the puck and aways from the puck. At one point last night he made a great clearing play from the defensive zone and ‘Great play Penner’ escaped my lips – something that hasn’t happened this season. His conditioning is still questionable, and I think that is the biggest thing holding him back from the 2nd line. He is always the first guy gassed at the end of a shift, and once he is spent becomes a serious liability.

    Ellerby. This guy is a mystery. So much potential for a great shutdown defensemen, but there is just something missing from his game. Depending on status I would love to see Greene swapped with Ellerby and keep the 7 defenseman lineup going. Greener can play the same minutes much more effectively and would really help to bolster our PK. Would also be a great way to work Greene back into a more regular defensive role.

    Overall we can’t expect to win games scoring only one goal. Lord knows if there was any team in this years playoffs that could pull that strategy off its the Kings. But we need to find our 5 on 5 offensive game and fast. St. Louis isn’t going to keep missing those nets. Quick, as brilliant as he is, tends to give up a softie every once in a while before going back into beast mode. If we don’t get going with some offense this series will ultimately go the Blues way no matter how good we are defensively.

    • Mik3ysfv says:

      I agree about your assessme,nt on the 5 on 5, as well as Keaton Ellerby showing flashes of brilliance. Maybe the missing component is the occasional crossed check to the chicklets of the opposing team. You know, really make them think twice about do they want to park it in front of the net. I am NOT a “goon it up” type of fan, but the opposition needs to fear him for him to be effective. Regehr has that fear factor, but his other skills have gone the way of the dodo. Ellerby still possesses the ability to be a solid stay at home dman, offensive flair.

      • Mik3ysfv says:

        stupid ass phone. It won’t let me see the last couple of lines I write. I possess a severe disdain for typos and bad english. Thank God my contract is up in 2 weeks. Would anyone recommend an iPhone? I have a Motorola Atrix, 2 years old. If not an iPhone, any other suggestions? I am about to go out of my tree right now.

    • Player X says:

      Welcome to Hold The Point, Lomita, thanks for commenting!

      I agree about Penner, I made a joke on Twitter that he may actually be Sampson, and needs the playoff beard to perform at his personal best. But, I don’t usually get down on the guy during the regular season, either, I think he just needs the right linemates for his peculiar skillset. I look at the guy as a natural “zip-and-dart” center trapped in the body of a power forward. He isn’t really slow, he’s just too large to be nimble. I have always liked his game, and he is like Stoll in a way, also, he gets paid a lot of money and you don’t really know why cuz he doesn’t do the flashy things, he just WINS.
      Ellerby- I actually am amazed by his adjustment, and fully pleased with him. Sutter has asked him to play on his wrong side, logging big minutes, and the kid has adapted well. No criticism from me on Ellerby, compared to Ellerby’s potential. Comparing him to Mitchell, or Greene, I think is unfair; Ellerby was forced into the role, he is 5 years younger than Greene, and he had never played a full season. If the criticism was that he did not develop quickly enough, I would answer that he is from the Panthers and let’s just say their development system is not widely duplicated.
      Tonight’s game is the true test. St. Louis is very, very good, tougher than anything we’ve seen last year. Something’s gotta give.
      My hunch/wild guess/attempt at duplicating Mik3ysfv’s psychic ability (he correctly predicted Slava getting the winning goal last game ) is somebody is going to win this game 4-1, off a 3-0 lead then a late goal to make it 3-1, then an empty netter. Hope it’s us. I would also take another 1-0 win, but it’s fun to guess.

      • LomitaKingsFan says:

        Thats a pretty fari assessment of Ellerby. He is being put into a position a few years ahead of schedule, and is coming out of a system not known for great defensive play. If he sticks around LA for a few years he might eventually morph into a Matt Greene 2.0.

        One of my favorite prognostications during a game is to figure out ‘next goal wins’ – regardless of the score. There are times when you can feel that the next team to score is going to to win, come hell or high water. I feel we are at a point in the series right now that whoever wins tonight will take advance. If the Kings win tonight then I am confident we can steal a game in St. Louis and win out our remaining home games. If St. Louis wins though I don’t see us coming back from 3-1 down at all. Whats your take?

        • Mik3ysfv says:

          It would be hard to come back from 3 to 1, but if any team has the character to do it it is the Kings. I totally agree with you, there are times it feels like the next goal is going to win it and that is it.

  5. Mik3ysfv says:

    Totally off topic here, X, But I can’t get the red light district out of my mind. How bout two separate three second gifs of Craig Muni Breaking Bob Kudelski’s knee and Tomas Sandstrom’s knee? Sort of as an introduction to the section like a ” This is the type of a-hole who belongs here” piece.

    Have a great time at the game if you are going, have a great time if you are not going.

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