Kings - Coyotes Game 1 Scoring Chances

Corey S.
May 14 2012 05:11PM

Can anyone stop Dustin Brown?
Photo by Nichole Glaze, via Wikimedia Commons

With the scoring chance project growing in popularity this season, it is only appropriate that we carry this analysis into the playoffs. I, along with a few other bloggers, have been tracking chances for various playoff games this post-season. However, the Western Conference Finals series between the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes will be the debut of the scoring chance project on NHLNumbers.

For those who are not familiar with this system, a scoring chance is an unblocked shot directed at the net from what is defined as a "dangerous scoring area," which is represented by this diagram. Scoring chances are tracked because they give us a better idea of who is creating and preventing the most opportunities for their team than shots alone can. Stats like corsi (aka. even strength shot attempts) give us an idea of which players are controlling possession, but scoring chances give us a better idea of who is creating more offense for their team.

This entire project was made possible by Vic Ferrari and his fantastic Time On Ice site that let's anyone log scoring chances for any game.

As for this game, most people who watched it will tell you that the Kings dominated about 80% of the contest en route to a 4-2 victory and the underlying numbers don't disagree. LA was blowing away Phoenix shot-wise and outchanced (+7) at even strength and (+8) overall.

The real story is how dominant Los Angeles' top line was. They looked as good as any unit in the playoffs this year and are going to be huge trouble for Phoenix if they keep it up.

A closer look at this game is coming after the jump.

Game 1 Scoring Chances*

Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH
1 10 3 8 2 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0
2 9 9 9 7 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
3 7 6 4 5 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0
Totals 26 18 21 14 3 1 0 0 2 3 0 0

*Los Angeles' chances are in grey, Phoenix's are in maroon. This chart is from LA's perspective.

Phoenix's second and third period weren't too bad, but they were run over in the first and could have easily been down by at least two goals had it not been for Mike Smith (and Derek Morris getting incredibly lucky on his goal). The Kings did more than enough to get the job done at even strength though as they produced 17 chances in the first 40 minutes alone and let their defense do the rest when they took the lead.

One thing that I have been monitoring is how bad Phoenix's powerplay has been this post-season and how it didn't come back to haunt them against Nashville. The three 5-on-4 chances they produced last night was only one short of their series total (!) against the Predators and they also handed the Kings two shorthanded chances on top of that. 

If Coyotes powerplay continues to be this bad, I could see this being a very quick series.

Kings Individual Scoring Chances

Best EV Forward: Anze Kopitar +9

Worst EV Forward: Dustin Penner -4

Best EV Defenseman: Willie Mitchell +5

Worst EV Defenseman: Alec Martinez -1

Straight-up domination from the Brown-Kopitar-Williams line as they produced almost half of the Kings' even strength scoring chances while not giving up much at the other end. Their performance is even more impressive when you consider that they started the majority of their draws in the defensive zone. No one on the Coyotes had an answer for them, so that unit could carry Los Angeles through this series if they start converting on more of their chances.

The only line that wasn't very good for the Kings was the second line of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner but Kopitar's line was so good that it made up for these three having a less-than-stellar game.

On the back end, Willie Mitchell and Slava Voynov were the Kings' best defense pairing but both Doughtly and Scuderi also played very well.

Coyotes Individual Scoring Chances

Best EV Forwards: Lauri Korpikoski & Mikkel Boedker +1

Worst EV Forwards: Gilbert Brule, Ray Whitney & Boyd Gordon -4

Best EV Defenseman: Derek Morris +1

Worst EV Defenseman: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

It is pretty easy to tell which defense pairing ended up having to face Kopitar's line for most of the game. Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a great series against Nashville but he looked way over his head playing against Kopitar and Brown. It didn't help that his partner Rostislav Klesla was equally bad, if not worse. In their defense, Rozsival and David Schlemko didn't fare much better and they were facing significantly weaker competition.

Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata were behind for most of the games in the Nashville series, but they were producing points so not many people noticed it. Things will probably be a lot different after this game where they were held in check and stuck in their own zone for most of the game. Ray Whitney had a very disappointing game, too.

The only line that was showing some life was the Boedker-Vermette-Doan trio. They were able to at least break even when playing five-on-five. The Doan unit have quietly been very good in the playoffs and it was a good thing they showed up in this game with the top-line being completely ineffective.

Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five

Click to enlarge picture

You see how badly the Kopitar dominated Phoenix's tough minutes guys. The Hanzal line, Boyd Gordon, Ekman-Larsson and Klesla were all blown away by this line at even strength. When you look at the other matchups, you'll notice that not many of the Kings lines or defense pairings were able to dominate the Coyotes in the fashion that they did. Voynov and Mitchell did put a crooked number up against the Ekman-Larsson/Klesla pairing, though.

The only thing I would be a little concerned about if I was a Kings fan was the seocnd line having a very poor game. The Kopitar combination did more than enough to make up for it, but Richards, Carter and Penner have to play a lot better than they did last night.

On a similar note, Keith Yandle and Derek Morris were technically Phoenix's best defense pairing, but a look at the head-to-head script shows that Dave Tippett kept them away from the Kopitar line and they were able to feast on the Richards line instead.

Event Table - Kings/Coyotes Game 1

Team Period Time Note LAK PHX  
LAK 1 18:43 Brown 11 22 23 26 32 33 14 15 16 23 28 41 5v5
LAK 1 16:07 Kopitar - GOAL 7 8 11 14 23 32 16 19 23 41 50 89 5v5
LAK 1 13:42 Carter 7 8 10 25 32 77 11 17 23 41 53   5v4
LAK 1 13:33 Richards 7 8 10 25 32 77 3 11 13 15 41 53 5v5
WES 1 12:31 Langkow 2 24 27 32 71 74 6 8 22 24 32 41 5v5
LAK 1 11:55 Richardson 11 15 26 32 33 71 3 8 22 24 32 41 5v5
WES 1 11:00 Doan 7 8 11 14 25 32 11 19 23 41 53 89 5v5
LAK 1 9:37 Lewis 7 22 28 32 33   3 11 13 17 23 41 4v5
WES 1 9:07 Vrbata 7 11 23 32 33   3 11 13 17 23 41 4v5
LAK 1 7:43 Brown 11 14 23 26 32 33 13 15 16 17 23 41 5v5
LAK 1 7:31 Brown 11 14 23 26 32 33 13 15 16 17 23 41 5v5
LAK 1 4:20 Williams 7 8 11 14 23 32 11 13 16 19 23 41 5v5
LAK 1 2:36 Richards 2 10 15 27 32 77 3 8 22 24 41 53 5v5
LAK 2 17:34 Brown 2 11 14 23 27 32 6 14 15 28 32 41 5v5
WES 2 15:36 Whitney 7 8 22 28 32 74 11 13 16 17 23 41 5v5
LAK 2 15:21 Lewis 7 8 22 28 32 74 11 13 16 17 23 41 5v5
WES 2 14:15 Doan 2 10 25 27 32 77 3 19 41 50 53 89 5v5
LAK 2 13:22 Kopitar 7 8 11 14 23 32 14 15 16 23 28 41 5v5
LAK 2 12:00 Richards 10 22 26 32 33 74 6 8 22 24 32 41 5v5
LAK 2 11:58 King - GOAL 10 22 26 32 33 74 6 8 22 24 32 41 5v5
LAK 2 11:39 Penner 7 8 10 25 32 77 3 19 41 50 53 89 5v5
WES 2 9:11 Vermette 7 8 10 22 32   3 17 19 23 41 50 4v5
WES 2 8:52 Vrbata 7 8 10 22 32   3 17 19 23 41 50 4v5
LAK 2 7:41 Brown 11 14 23 26 32 33 11 13 16 17 23 41 5v5
WES 2 6:41 Vermette 7 8 10 25 32 77 3 19 41 50 53 89 5v5
LAK 2 5:27 Lewis 2 22 28 32 33 74 3 8 14 22 41 53 5v5
WES 2 3:50 Vermette 7 8 10 25 32 77 3 19 41 50 53 89 5v5
LAK 2 3:34 Penner 8 10 25 32 33 77 3 19 41 50 53 89 5v5
WES 2 3:05 Korpikoski 2 15 24 27 32 71 6 14 15 28 32 41 5v5
WES 2 2:16 Hanzal 22 26 28 32 33 74 3 11 13 16 17 41 5v5
WES 2 1:55 Boedker - GOAL 7 8 10 25 32 77 3 19 41 50 53 89 5v5
WES 3 18:56 Klesla 11 14 23 26 32 33 16 19 23 41 50 89 5v5
LAK 3 17:49 Brown - GOAL 11 14 23 26 32 33 16 19 23 41 50 89 5v5
WES 3 15:33 Gordon 10 25 26 32 33 77 6 14 15 28 32 41 5v5
LAK 3 15:00 Stoll 7 8 22 28 32   3 14 19 23 41 50 4v5
LAK 3 13:11 Carter 8 10 11 27 32 77 15 16 28 41 53   5v4
LAK 3 11:21 Stoll 14 23 26 28 32 33 15 16 28 41 53   5v4
LAK 3 10:23 Richardson 7 8 15 24 32 71 6 19 32 41 50 89 5v5
LAK 3 8:02 Mitchell 11 23 26 32 33   3 19 41 50 53   4v4
WES 3 6:38 Yandle 10 14 26 32 33 77 3 15 32 41 89   5v4
LAK 3 5:45 Kopitar 2 11 14 15 27 32 11 13 17 23 32 41 5v5
WES 3 4:30 Korpikoski 10 25 26 32 33 77 3 14 22 28 41 53 5v5
WES 3 4:25 Langkow 10 25 26 32 33 77 3 14 22 28 41 53 5v5
WES 3 2:59 Doan 2 10 23 27 32 77 13 16 19 23 41 50 5v5

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Corey runs the Carolina Hurricanes blog www.shutdownline.com where he tracks scoring chances and writes about all things related to the Hurricanes and the Southeast Division. He is also a staff writer at www.canescountry.com and is a regular on the NHL Numbers Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @Shutdownline
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#1 Derek Zona
May 14 2012, 05:12PM
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"Best EV Forward: Anze Kopitar +9"

In the conference finals? That's crazy.

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#2 Derek T.
May 14 2012, 05:20PM
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Serious question: Is there a better center than Kopitar in the Western Conference right now? Obviously Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Thornton and Toews all belong in the conversation but if I had to pick one guy to build my team around for the next five years, I'd be hard-pressed not to pick Kopi.

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#3 dan
May 14 2012, 06:59PM
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Kopitar is great, my choice for Selke this year.. However if your are going by $ value. Ryan Kelser is right up there and underrated.

1) Kelser doesn't have the advantage of playing with someone anywhere as talented as D. Brown 2) This yr. against Kings - Kelser played Kopitar's line even up in h2h scoring chance diff. quite a feat when you see what Kopitar's line has done vs St. louis and now Phx. Even though Kesler had a bum shoulder for last 4 months. This shouldn't be surprising Kelser shutdown J. Toews in last playoffs 11.

A healthy Kelser playing with D. Brown could easily put up 70+pts. And Kelser only makes $5 million.

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#4 Josh Lile
May 14 2012, 09:18PM
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Derek T. wrote:

Serious question: Is there a better center than Kopitar in the Western Conference right now? Obviously Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Thornton and Toews all belong in the conversation but if I had to pick one guy to build my team around for the next five years, I'd be hard-pressed not to pick Kopi.

Yes. Jamie Benn.

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#5 Derek T.
May 14 2012, 09:37PM
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@dan

Point taken about Kesler's linemates (although I love David Booth and Chris Higgins) but there's quite a bit of evidence to suggest that Kopitar carries Brown to a far greater extent than the other way around.

Since 2007, when Kopitar and Brown have shared the ice at evens, the Kings have earned 53.7% of the Corsi events. With Kopitar on the ice without Brown over that span, they've been basically unchanged - a 53.3% Corsi team and (here's the most telling part) with Brown on the ice without Kopitar since '07 the Kings have earned just 48.6% of the Corsi events (it's kind of the same story with 5v5 goals - Kopi w/o Brown has the Kings at 55.6%, Brown w/o Kopi is 51.7%). Obviously that's ignoring context so it's entirely possible Brown has been given the tougher minutes in Kopitar's absence and they're probably better than the sum of their parts when paired but I think it's fair to say Brown's numbers, both in terms of counting stats and possession metrics, are inflated by playing so much with Kopitar. I do think Kesler's had a similar effect on Booth and Higgins (and previously in his career, Raymond) but those guys have been plagued by some poor shooting luck so it hasn't really turned into goals.

@Josh Lile

Benn's definitely up there IMO.

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#6 dan
May 14 2012, 09:46PM
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@Derek T.

Good points. Your research seems to show that Kopitar drives possession better than Brown. I guess I was making a direct comparison between Booth & Brown (Kes didn't get to play with Higgins much thanks to the coach (Av's) ignorance,(but that's another matter. When Kes played with Higgins (who is a strong poss player) they dominated & in Game 3 they went into LA (without D. Sedin) & ruled LA in Fenwick. But, were given many penalties & couldn't capitalize on PP. They are both great players.And, again feel that Kopitar should have been nominated for Selke.

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#7 rudykelly
May 15 2012, 09:47AM
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Kopitar is the greatest person that ever lived.

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#8 SteveL
May 16 2012, 12:42PM
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Derek Zona wrote:

"Best EV Forward: Anze Kopitar +9"

In the conference finals? That's crazy.

+10 now, and Brown is at +11. That line has been a force, even without Williams playing all that great.

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