Kings Game 51 Plus/Minuses: Copley & Penalty Kill Come up Big
It was Copley’s best game for the Kings and a deserved win for him.
The Los Angeles Kings saw out a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers. After going up 3-0 early, Florida pushed back hard and made life miserable for the Kings.
The Kings hunkered down in the third and defended well to escape with two points.
Here are some plus and minuses from Friday's win.
+ Pheonix Copley
There was a lot of concern surrounding Pheonix Copley last week after he was pulled in two straight games. Two solid performances in a row against the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers restored some faith. It was the Copley the Kings have gotten all season, not stellar, but good enough.
On Friday, Copley was more than "good enough" and was stellar. It was Copley's best game for the Kings and a deserved win for him.
He was shelled, particularly in the second half of the game, facing 47 shots in total. He finished with a career-high 44 saves for a .936 save. He also finished with 2.57 goals saved above expected.
The Kings haven't been able to rely on their goalies to steal games this season, and I wouldn't go as far as to say Copley stole that game for the Kings. But he came close to it.
Certainly, had the Kings gotten their normal goaltending from this season, they would have lost that game.
+ The Penalty Kill
Heading into this game the Kings' penalty kill sat 25th in the league. Given the Panthers' power play has been the leagues best since Christmas, staying out of the box seemed crucial before the game.
The Kings couldn't stay out of the box, but their penalty kill did come up big.
They gave Florida five power play opportunities, including three minutes of an Alex Turcotte major, and gave up zero goals on the man advantage.
A lot of that success was down to Copley in net. As the old cliché says, your goalie needs to be your best penalty killer, and Copley was that Friday.
But the other standouts from the penalty kill were Mikey Anderson and Drew Doughty. The pairing played a combined 9:27 down a man, just one second few than the rest of the blue line combined.
Having a pair you can rely on that much is huge for Todd McLellan and they were a massive reason the Kings' penalty kill found so much success.
– The Whole Team 5-on-5
As a team, the Kings were absolutely caved in at five-on-five.
Not a single Kings line, forward, or defense finished with positive metrics.
For the defense pairings, a 30% expected goals percentage was the highest. And at forward, 24.5% was the best.
The possession metrics don't look much better. With no line hitting the 50% mark for Corsi or Fenwick.
The Kings were thoroughly outplayed at even strength. The expected goals finished at 5.03 for Florida and 1.16 for Los Angeles at five-on-five.
This makes Copley's performance even more impressive. The Kings should not have won this game based on the numbers. They were second best and needed some puck luck and a strong performance from their goalie.
This isn't a sustainable way to win games for the Kings, so they need to clean it up before Saturday's matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.