‘Oh October, where have you gone,’ is likely something Darryl Sutter often wonders. Back in the opening month of the season his Kings had the hottest line in hockey, with the trio of Tanner Pearson-Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli racking up 35 points in the first 11 games. Overall, the team has been a bit of a mystery most nights, especially on the road, where their 4-8-5 record is only slightly better than Edmonton’s league-worst two wins.
Yet, here is where you can get lost in the numbers. The Kings have averaged 2.80 goals scored in their 20 home games, that’s only 19th best in the NHL. Meanwhile, on the road, they’ve averaged 2.59 goals, 15th best. And, in case you didn’t know, only Tampa Bay’s 15-4-1 home record trumps the Kings’ 14-4-2 mark at Staples Center.
You can argue their individual merits all you want, but there is surely no denying that the Kings three most lethal weapons on offense boil down to Carter, Toffoli, and Marian Gaborik. In fact, Gaborik is turning out to be the straw that stirs that drink for Anze Kopitar. Following his well-documented bromance with Ryan Smyth several years ago, Kopitar now seems to be at peace with Gaborik on his wing. One small sample of the Slovakia native’s impact can be seen when sifting through those October numbers again. Gaborik played a scant three games that month, and Kopitar produced just three points. Not exactly what you would expect from the team’s top points producer since he broke into the NHL.
On the flip side, has anybody noticed the points Kopitar was producing over the last two weeks while Gaborik was healthy?
All of this info builds to a singular point– Sutter has been tinkering with the lines (both with Gaborik in the lineup and without him), but has yet to find the perfect combination. Even though we can assume he never read this article (where we suggested the Pearson-Toffoli-Carter and Gaborik-Kopitar-Brown lines that he ended up using for most of the playoffs), MayorsManor can still offer some help again. Here is what we propose moving forward:
With Gaborik in the lineup, the lineup should look something like this:
Sure, Clifford over King makes more sense on the fourth line, but Sutter would not agree with you. The point here is not about scratching Clifford every single game, it’s more about finding a way to get Andreoff in the lineup. It’s time. It needs to be done, and sooner, not later. The kid can play all three forward positions and has a bit of scoring touch. For what it’s worth, four of those bottom six forwards are interchangeable – five of them when including Clifford – in the sense you can mix and match them any way you want and the offense results most likely aren’t going to change much. The lineup above is focused on the top six. Rotate the other guys around to get Andreoff more playing time. The Kings will need him come the post-season.
Now, assuming Gaborik is going to miss tonight’s game, here is the proposal:
For you contrarians, don’t worry – we have an alternate suggestion, as well:
Here comes the interactive part, time to share your opinion…
Wait, there’s more. Knowing the bottom two lines can be constructed several different ways, if you were the coach…
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