Sunday, October 25, 2009

Four Lines Deep - 10/25/09

The Jackets are hungry for more than just another road win before leaving LA.

The Jackets face a young Kings team tonight that has won three straight. The Kings started strong, faltered for a few games at the end of a long road trip, and have regained their momentum. They are tough at home (3-1) and will certainly be looking to pay back the Jackets for a 4-1 loss on October 17.

First Line: Take the crown off the King. The King's first line (Smyth, Kopitar, Williams) generates much of the offense for the squad. The Kings have an impressive 38 goals for this season, but Kopitar and Smyth have scored more than a third of the goals and account for 34 points combined. If the Jackets can effectively limit this line, then the chances for a road win are much stronger.

Second Line: Remember how to kill penalties. As Porty said  in Puck Rakers, the PK has given up five goals in the past few games, and that just won't work. Hitch's team has to play aggressively and with bad intentions -- and the Jackets can't do that if the PK doesn't insulate them from taking penalties with "weighty" play in the defensive zone.  Re-focus on the basics: Clean the crease; let Mase see the shots; win the corner battles and clear the friggin' zone with confidence. The PK may have become a little pre-occupied with getting scoring opportunities.

Third Line:  Dominate the faceoff circle. The Kings don't have one center - including Kopitar - that wins more than 50 percent of faceoffs. When combined with an abysmal 71 percent PK, that means the Jackets will have great opportunities to control the puck and set up scoring opportunities on the powerplay.  Controlling the faceoffs will also be crucial to keeping the puck out of the hands of Kopitar and the formidable first line. Obviously, controlling faceoffs also supports penalty killing (see Second Line).  Palhsson went 22/30 last night -- he gets an extra shake and a t-shirt from In-n-Out Burger if he repeats that performance.

Fourth Line: Let the Kings score first. Why not? According to the semi-professional and not too dedicated research department at Jackets Required, the Jackets are 4-2 when giving up the first goal. The Jackets have given up the first goal in every game on this road trip, so why break the trend? In addition, they have been giving away leads like they're autographed Jim Day head shots -- in other words, like they can't wait to get rid of them. Perhaps it's part of this team's identity? They don't really play to their potential until they're up against a wall. Giving up the first goal seems to bring some extra energy out of this team. Of course, waiting for them to regain - and hold - the lead is going to make my hair look like Hitchcock's before the end of the season.

1 comment:

  1. Double double animal style. Yummy. The jackets wanted to get in and out too fast.