Waking up with the Kings: October 28
-Not that the Hockey Gods always come to a fair and just conclusion, but the two points the Los Angeles Kings earned on Sunday represented an appropriate outcome for a game they dominated territorially during five-on-five play. They outshot the Edmonton Oilers 48-18 – 41-to-11 at even strength – and while the discrepancy in scoring chances wasn’t quite as wide, the Kings were the better team, even if they were unable to transfer their possession, zone time and shot-generating superiority onto the scoreboard. Richard Bachman deserves credit for squaring up to shooters and not affording many juicy rebounds – Dallas Eakins said it best by stating that “the puck was sticking to him” – and through three career appearances against Los Angeles, he has stopped 95-of-97 shots for a healthy .979 save percentage. Edmonton is a dangerous team off the rush and when afforded lanes of open space; for the most part, that open space wasn’t available, and their elite forwards were kept to the perimeter during five-on-five play. When set up in the offensive zone while on the power play, the Oilers were obviously much more dangerous. Though Bachman deserves praise for his performance, Quick also turned aside several excellent chances, including an arm save on Ales Hemsky in front of the goal line late in the second period, and a pad save on David Perron from the tops of the circles during a rush in the third. He has stopped 10-of-11 shots in the shootout this season.
-The Kings succeeded in sustaining the forecheck through much of Sunday’s game, and the Richards-Carter-Frattin line played a key role. Matt Frattin turned in another strong performance when reunited with the linemates he found preseason success with, though from his more comfortable position on the right wing. Frattin was physical, finishing with four hits, and has now placed seven shots on net over his last two games. Though the chemistry appears to be there, one has to think how well it serves Los Angeles for Richards to continue to serve as a left wing.
-Apparently the statistics indicate that there were, in fact, players in the faceoff circles not named Anze Kopitar or Boyd Gordon. In his season-high 24:21 of ice time, Kopitar won 20-of-33 draws, while Gordon won 21-of-31 (!) for Edmonton. The Oilers are the antithesis of the San Jose Sharks and finished last in the league in faceoff percentage in three of the previous four seasons. This year, thanks to Gordon, a noted shutdown center, Edmonton is a more-than-respectable 10th in the league at the dot, having won 51.8% of their faceoffs. Though the Oilers ultimately lost the game, Gordon won two important faceoffs in overtime, delaying the amount of zone time the Kings had to work with while on the power play. There are still holes in Edmonton’s depth and defense, and perhaps a lack of sandpaper within their forward corps – which is exacerbated with Taylor Hall out of the lineup – but Gordon’s signing was a step in the right direction for a team looking for players who can handle tough minutes and challenging defensive zone assignments.