Kings-Sharks Opportunities Through 2 Games

2 games in and... the Kings aren't dead. Huzzah! They even won 1 game! In game 2, the Kings got up early and then played suffocating defense the rest of the game. The biggest key to the Kings' win? In game 1, the Kings allowed 22 scoring opportunities at even-strength, according to Derek Zona over at Copper & Blue; in game 2, they allowed 4.* Overall, the Kings are getting out-chanced at even-strength 26-18 in this series and their team CORSI is -14. It's not good but it's not... terrible.

*Another big difference? In the 1st game the Sharks blocked 29 shots, while in the 2nd they blocked only 4.

The more interesting thing to look at is who specifically is getting outchanced and outshot at even-strength so far. Here is how Todd McClellan was trying to match the lines off draws in Games 1 & 2:

 

Marleau-Thornton-Setoguchi vs. Smyth-Stoll-Williams

Clowe-Couture-Heatley vs. Penner-Handzus-Brown

Wellwood-Pavelski-Mitchell vs. Clifford-Richardson-Simmonds

Mayers-Nichol-Eager vs. Ponikarovsky-Lewis/Moller-Westgarth

 

And here are the numbers for everyone through 2 games:

On Ice Goals For/Against, Scoring Chances For/Against*, Fenwick For/Against**, CORSI For/Against***

*Scoring chances courtesy of Derek Zona from The Copper & Blue: Game 1 & 2 linked above.

**Fenwick is shots + goals + missed shots for minus all that stuff against.

***CORSI is shots + goals + missed shots + blocked shots for minus all that stuff against.

 

Name Goals For/Against Scoring Chances For/Against Fenwick +/- CORSI +/-
Patrick Marleau 0/1 8/7 -1 1
Joe Thornton 0/2 9/7 2 8
Devin Setoguchi 0/2 7/6 7 11
Ryane Clowe 3/1 11/6 12 12
Logan Couture 2/1 12/5 15 15
Dany Heatley 2/1 10/6 9 8
Kyle Wellwood 1/0 5/5 6 5
Joe Pavelski 1/0 10/4 2 -2
Torrey Mitchell 0/1 6/5 2 1
Jamal Mayers 0/0 2/0 -5 -5
Scott Nichol 0/0 2/2 -5 -7
Ben Eager 0/0 2/1 -5 -2
Doug Murray 2/1 9/7 -10 -9
Dan Boyle 1/1 10/8 -12 -10
Marc-Edouard Vlasic 1/1 11/5 16 19
Jason Demers 0/1 11/6 14 17
Ian White 1/0 2/1 4 4
Justin Braun 0/1 1/3 8 9
Niclas Wallin 1/1 4/6 2 1
Antti Niemi 3/3 25/18 11 14

 

Name
Goals For/Against
Scoring Chances For/Against
Fenwick +/-
CORSI +/-
Dustin Penner
0/2
3/8
-12
-22
Michal Handzus
0/2
3/10
-19
-23
Dustin Brown
0/2
5/7
-14
-19
Ryan Smyth
1/0
6/4
6
9
Jarret Stoll
1/0
2/7
5
8
Justin Williams
2/0
6/6
4
5
Kyle Clifford
2/1
6/6
-6
-3
Brad Richardson
1/1
7/5
1
5
Wayne Simmonds
1/1
5/7
-2
3
Alexei Ponikarovsky
0/0
3/2
-6
-7
Trevor Lewis
0/0
5/7
1
-5
Kevin Westgarth
0/0
2/3
3
1
Oscar Moller
1/0
2/1
3
3
Willie Mitchell
2/1
9/12
-1
-4
Drew Doughty
3/1
9/6
5
7
Jack Johnson
0/1
6/10
-11
-8
Rob Scuderi
0/1
6/10
-13
-15
Alec Martinez
1/1
3/5
-2
-2
Matt Greene
0/1
3/7
-1
-6
Jonathan Quick
3/3
18/26
-11
-14

 

Lot of shit to go through. You'll notice that the supposed "Top lines" for both teams have been the worst on their respective teams; Joe Thornton and Michal Handzus were both given the toughest defensive assignment and both are -2. The difference, though, is that Thornton has probably just been unlucky (one of those goals was the Williams goal that Murray & Boyle flubbed) while Handzus & Co. have been getting their asses kicked by Clowe-Couture-Heatley. Not exactly what you want from your trade deadline acquisition, your best center and your captain (although Brown has been doing well when he's double-shifted, which makes me think it's the other two's fault).

This is what I was of worried about when I wrote before the series that the Kings should try to get Matt Greene against Thornton so they can free up Willie Mitchell & Drew Doughty for Couture's line; that line has been getting Johnson-Scuderi along with Handzus and have been getting killed. Johnson & Scuderi haven't been bad by any means (Johnson has only made one poor defensive play that resulted in his lone goal against), they just haven't been able to wrest possession from Couture's line and thus are getting outshot pretty heavily.

The pleasant surprise of the playoffs thus far has been the excellent play of Smyth-Stoll-Williams. Mostly paired with Mitchell-Doughty against Thornton's line (and the Murray-Boyle defensive pairing), they've been able to play mostly even with that line and have kept possession in the Sharks' zone, which keeps Thornton far from the Kings' net. When I saw that match-up in the 1st game I thought the Kings were completely fucked but they've come out even or ahead thus far. I think McClellan thought Thornton's line would roll over them too. That they weren't able has kept the Kings in it thus far.

Another pleasant surprise? The Clifford-Richardson-Simmonds line has been able to stay even with Joe Pavelski thus far as well. I think that line's a different match-up than Pavelski's line is used to; his line is used to playing defense and counter-attacking but the Kings' line is actually faster than Pavelski's. They've only gotten one fast break and that ended up being the game ender in game 1.

Based on these numbers, the Sharks should be winning but it hasn't been dominating by any means. The Sharks should have won by more in game 1 and lost by less in game 2 but the win-loss result was probably an accurate representation of each team's play.  The big reason the Kings have been competitive has been on special teams; they've gone 3-9 on the power play and held the Sharks to 0-7 when they had the man advantage. That is not going to last. Just like last year, the Kings are hanging in there at even-strength but their luck is going to run out sooner or later. Hopefully Penner & Handzus have pulled their heads out of their asses by then.

It'll be interesting to see how Terry Murray matches lines against the Sharks at home. Todd McClellan seems pretty content to roll his lines and not fanatically line match (he's similar to Murray in that regard), so the Kings should be able to get the match-ups they want. It's tricky: the match-ups in San Jose weren't terrible as the Kings were able to stay even or better in 3 of 4, but the 1 that they lost killed them. Murray could switch it up and pair Handzus and Thornton, but if he leaves Mitchell-Doughty on Thornton then he's even more exposed against the Couture line. I honestly don't know what I'd do. Coaching is hard. Can't wait to find out, though!

(Special thanks to Derek Zona for keeping track of these and also to Edmonton for not giving Derek anything better to do! He'll likely keep doing these the rest of the series so I'll try to link to them in the future. They also do them for other series too if you're interested.)

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