Another game, another browbeating of the Phoenix Coyotes at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix’s worst game of the series. Most people saw this as a mismatch on paper and the on-ice results have been in line with those expectations as the Kings have thoroughly dominated the Coyotes in just about every facet of the game.
Mike Smith might have been able to carry Phoenix through the first two rounds but it is tough to rely on mostly goaltending when you are facing an even-strength powerhouse like the Kings. It also doesn’t help that the team in front of him produced only 11 scoring chances while giving up 22 in their own end last night. LA is one game away from their second consecutive sweep this post-season and from the looks of things, they might accomplish that feat.
An interesting thing about this series is that the Kings have been getting an absurd amount of production from one line in each of the three games. The Kopitar line ran wild in Game One and Jeff Carter recorded a hat trick in Game Two. Which line broke out in Game Three? Find out after thejump.
Game 3 Scoring Chances*
*LA’s chances are in grey, PHX’s are in maroon. This is from LA’s perspective
After getting off to abysmal starts in the first two games, Phoenix actually began Game 3 on a pretty strong note. They outshot the Kings and managed to break even with them in scoring chances. One would think that this would set the tone for the rest of the game but that wasn’t the case – Phoenix got significantly worse as the game went on. They were outchanced 15-5 (11-4 at even strength) for the rest of the game and things reached a new low in the third period.
The Coyotes were either tied or playing down a goal for most of that frame so the fact that they produced only two chances is pretty awful. The refs weren’t exactly helping them out (5 LA powerplays vs. 1 for Phoenix) but a few extra powerplays weren’t going to save the Coyotes from this mess.
Kings Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Jarret Stoll & Trevor Lewis +6
Worst EV Forward: Jordan Nolan -2
Best EV Defensemen: Slava Voynov & Willie Mitchell +4
Worst EV Defenseman: Alec Martinez +1
If you predicted Jarret Stoll’s line to break-out then you win. Stoll, along with Lewis & Dwight King had one of their best games of the playoffs as they produced a little under half of the Kings’ even strength chances. Stoll was easily the most impressive of the trio as he created five chances at even strength and six overall. It was interesting to see this line be the unit to have a huge game because they were pretty weak in Game 2, although that was largely because they had to face Martin Hanzal’s line for most of that contest. With Hanzal suspended, Phoenix had to change things up and Stoll’s line got a more favorable matchup and took full advantage of it.
The only line for the Kings that wasn’t in the black was the trio of Clifford, Richardson & Nolan. They didn’t play much so I don’t think this is a huge concern for LA, especially with everyone in the top-nine clicking right now. Kopitar’s line turned in a wonderful defensive performance last night. They have been outstanding at both ends of the ice. so far The Richards line hasn’t been as impressive defensively but they are creating enough chances to make up for it.
Every Kings defenseman had a positive scoring chance rating last night with Willie Mitchell & Slava Voynov reclaiming their position at the top. They had trouble containing Hanzal’s line in Game Two, but, like Stoll, got a bit of an easier draw with him out of the lineup. The funny thing is that this “easier draw” was the Vermette line and they completely shut them down while Doughty & Scuderi handled Vrbata’s line.
Coyotes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Mikkel Boedker +4
Worst EV Forward: Radim Vrbata -7
Best EV Defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson & Derek Morris -1
Worst EV Defensemen: Michael Stone & Keith Yandle -5
Daymond Langkow was used in place of Hanzal on the first line and I shoudn’t need to tell you how big of a downgrade that is, because the numbers can do most of the talking there. Vrbata was invisible for most of the game and Pyatt was also held in check. You can tell that both of them definitely miss having the big Czech centeirng their line. Another guy who might join that club is Ray Whitney, who hasn’t been much of a factor this series and turned in yet another disappointing performance.
While the top-six was ineffecitve, Phoenix’s third line did come through a little bit with Mikkel Boedker leading the way. Both him and Korpikoski bring a solid two-way game to the table and their speed makes them a tough matchup for LA’s third defense pairings. The fact that this line was the only line for Phoenix that could consistently move the puck forward and create chances is a huge problem, though. They also got seven offensive zone starts, so that obviously helped a little.
It’s hard for me to pick the Coyotes top defenseman for this series because they all have stunk, and this game was no exception as everyone finished with a negative scoring chance rating. Stone and Klesla’s -5 just looks a lot worse because they somehow were on ice for a ton of chances against despite not playing that much at even strength.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
The Stoll line’s main matchup was against Vermette, but you can see that these three ran over everyone in Phoenix’s top-six. Dave Tippett moved away from his Game 2 strategy of matching Vermette with Richards and opted to use him against Stoll instead. That plan ended up back-firing. Although, I am not sure if he would have done this had Martin Hanzal been in the lineup. On a similar note, Langkow’s line got abused by just about everyone who plays signficiant minutes on the Kings.
Boyd Gordon’s line was still matched up against Kopitar and they ended up losing that matchup, but not as badly as they did in Game 2. They had some success against the Richards and Stoll lines, too. The defense pairing, however, fared very poorly against Kopitar’s line. Ekman-Larsson’s overall numbers for this game weren’t horrible but that’s mostly because he was able to take advantage of the Kings’ fourth line. Kopitar, Brown & Williams torched him at even strength.
|PHX||2||15:58||Langkow – GOAL||13||16||19||26||41||50||7||8||11||22||23||32||5v5|
|WES||2||16:50||Kopitar – GOAL||15||23||28||32||41||89||7||8||11||14||23||32||5v5|
|WES||3||18:14||King – GOAL||3||14||17||26||41||50||22||26||28||32||33||74||5v5|