1 goal (scored against Smyth-Stoll-Williams)
Most common opponent: Handzus-Kopitar-Simmonds (~50%)
Most common opponent: Handzus-Kopitar-Simmonds (~60%)
3 goals (2 scored against Smyth-Stoll-Williams, 1 against Handzus-Kopitar-Simmonds)
Most common opponent: Smyth-Stoll-Williams (~40%)
Since putting Michal Handzus on the Kings' top line, the Kings have primarily been using that line as a shutdown and scoring line and, as Jim Fox pointed out last night, they're often moving Handzus to the middle of the ice on the break out so Kopitar can get a fast break opportunity. Against Washington and Philadelphia, the Kings were able to match lines with Ovechkin and Carter's lines, outscoring both in their contests. It was interesting because Terry Murray doesn't normally match forward lines, choosing to instead roll his lines and count on his defense to match. The past few games, on the road, Murray bucked his usual trend and benefited from it.
Last night, the Blue Jackets chose to put Samuel Pahlsson on Kopitar while attacking the Kings' best scoring (but weakest defensive) line. The Kings tried to match lines but Scott Arniel was a little wily and managed to consistently get either Voracek or Nash against weaker competition. The Kings were finally able to get consistent match-ups in the 3rd but the Blue Jackets scored anyway. As you saw last night, the Blue Jackets' plan worked pretty well; only problem was, their weakest line got exposed twice by Andrei Loktionov. The Kings' depth won them last night's game.
I'm not sure what the Rangers are going to do tonight; the Rangers have been going top line against top line in recent weeks, but they might choose to put the alliterative Brian Boyle and Tommy's brother Ryan Callahan up against Kopitar while picking on Smyth-Stoll-Williams with Marian Gaborik. Either way, Gaborik is going to get fitted for a Willie Mitchell suit so I'm optimistic about tonight's game.
It's funny how Drew Doughty could play a great game earlier in the year but go pointless and everyone would get mad at him and call him fat; now he'll play a shitty game like last night but manage to score thanks to Wayne Simmonds and everyone says he played great. It all balances out, I suppose.
Dustin Brown played a lot better in the 3rd and overtime last night so hopefully he can keep that going. In theory, I like him on a line with Andrei Loktionov because Loktionov can either push the tempo or slow the game down based on Brown; Brown can act and have the game based on him rather than reacting to what Kopitar would be doing. I wouldn't mind seeing what a Poni-Loki-Brown line could do, or a Sturm-Loki-Brown line when Marco gets back.
That farmer got all mad at me yesterday but I mean, c'mon, wouldn't it have been ruder if I hadn't slept with his daughter? I need to write Emily Post and check on this. But anyways, I'm fine.
Prediction: Kings win, 3-2. Goals by Kopitar, Willie Mitchell and Alec Martinez.