Looking to build off of Tuesday’s win against Winnipeg, 13 different players picked up points for the LA Kings as they outscored the Minnesota Wild 7-3 on Thursday.
This game was not the most aesthetically pleasing, but that can make picking up two points that much more satisfying. Let’s dig in.
Rightfully so, this was a relatively even affair for the most part. After a sloppy first period that saw the teams trade goals, the Wild played a better second period – holding a 20-16 edge in shot attempts and an 11-5 advantage in scoring chances. The middle frame went goalless, though, and the Kings maintained their 4-2 lead from the first into the final 20 minutes. That’s where LA put the screws to Minnesota. The Kings out-attempted the Wild 17-12 and out-chanced them 9-4 at 5-on-5 in the third period, netting three goals along the way.
In just under eight minutes of ice time at 5-on-5, Carl Grundstrom, Blake Lizotte and Trevor Lewis put forth their best performance of the season. They held a 6-4 edge in shot attempts and didn’t allow a single scoring chance against them. Grundstrom tallied his second goal of the season and is looking like he’ll be another strong contributor to the offense from the fourth line.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Kevin Fiala, and Alex Laferriere may not have had the dominant performance that we’ve seen earlier this season, but Dubois’ two first-period goals gave LA a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Dubois and Fiala were awarded the game’s first and second stars respectively.
The depth of this LA Kings lineup is their strength. That was on display in this one as all four lines contributed on the scoresheet.
Vladislav Gavrikov and Matt Roy were the best pairing for the LA Kings, but you probably knew that already. The two spent over 14 minutes together holding a 10-7 edge in scoring chances and were on the ice for only one Minnesota high-danger chance.
Mikey Anderson and Drew Drew Doughty‘s numbers won’t jump off the page, but they spent a lot of their time against Kirill Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman, and Mats Zuccarello. They played them pretty much straight up, all things considered, it could have been worse.
More on Jordan Spence later, but this third pairing just hasn’t gotten off the ground yet. They only played 5:33 together and split their six shot attempts with Minnesota. All in all, it’s been pretty uneventful, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’d like to see Spence be more involved.
5-on-5 Shot Attempts
It was pretty high-event hockey from the top-four defense group. On the opposite end, the Lizotte line was pretty low-event, but considering they controlled those events, that is A-OK.
5-on-5 Expected Goals For/Against
I don’t know that Jordan Spence has really found his footing yet. This is likely a combination of a few things. To start, he’s getting his first extended look at the NHL level so there’s going to be an adjustment period. He’s also getting used to a defense partner in Andreas Englund, who happens to be the exact opposite in terms of style as Spence. It’s too early to judge, but the bottom pairing has been a little underwhelming so far.
We can probably expect to see the likes of PL Dubois, Kevin Fiala, and Alex Laferriere allowing plenty of expected goals against. They are going to play high-event hockey and that comes with the territory. In this one, they didn’t create as much as you’d like, but, Dubois did net two in the first period.
5-on-5 Shot Contributions
Kevin Fiala is finding his game. After a slow start at home (in terms of play driving), he’s been far more involved these last two games. His ten shot contributions tied with Danault for the team lead. Fiala and Trevor Moore led the way in shot attempts with five.
I suspect as Jordan Spence gets more acclimated, we’ll see more from him in terms of offensive contributions.
Between The Pipes
Cam Talbot got the nod against his former team and he made the saves he needed to make. An unlucky bounce put him in a tough spot on the first goal and the slew of bodies in front of him on the second didn’t help. Overall, he made 29 stops on 32 shots (.906 SV%) and MoneyPuck graded him out as having a -0.49 GSAx.
This was the type of game that the LA Kings can expect to get from their goaltending on most nights. It was good enough, but with how the Kings come at you in terms of offense, that should be enough.
What I don’t think is necessary is for there to be any anointing of a “#1”. This was two solid games, but there’s no need to get ahead of ourselves. I’d give Pheonix Copley the nod on Saturday.
The LA Kings return home for a Saturday night date with last year’s Presidents Trophy winners, the Boston Bruins.
(Main Photo Credit: Matt Krohn / Associated Press)