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Making a Case for Andreoff and McBain

April 7, 2016, 5:11 PM ET [19 Comments]
Jason Lewis
Los Angeles Kings Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

Maybe there are more important things to write about.

Maybe we could talk about Dustin Brown (Who has not scored in his last 10, and has just three in his last 28 games).

Or we could go into detail about who should play with Drew Doughty? Should it be McNabb or Muzzin for the playoffs?

Or maybe playoff matchups.

Surely there are more important and pressing things to discuss than a 6th Dman and a 4th line forward right?

Well, as long as we are thinking about playoffs, we might as well talk about depth players. After all, depth is key. Right now, the Kings have two depth players making really really good cases to be considered for more consistent starts, and more playing time.

Those two players are Jamie McBain and Andy Andreoff of course.

Over the past week or so, the Kings have run into some wild swings of form. It seems like after the clinching of the playoffs, several key guys went into a bit of a slumbery form. Andreoff, however, was not one of those players. After a missing a decent chunk of games in early March, the 24-year old forward has now dressed in nine straight games for Sutter, posting four points and three goals in those games. While that does not seem like a whole lot, factor in that he has played just about 7-9 minutes on average during those games. From a fourth line slot, that's pretty darn productive.

And of course, he has seen quite a bump in his fancy stat categories as well.

One of the reasons that Andreoff has been much more successful as of late is his switch to winger from his normal center position. This was a move that we on the blog theorized could give him a better shot around two months ago. It should probably be considered a must read moving forward. Give it a look right here in the bolded text (Further proof that Darryl Sutter may or may not read the blog)

The short version; Andreoff is not good at controlling the center of the ice. As a centerman that is your one and only job.

While at wing, Andreoff has seen his toolset come to life a little bit more. He is not a bad skater by any means, he is actually pretty decent. That sort of straight line speed is much more effective out wide than down the middle in the Kings system. He also loves to throw the body, muck it up, and will battle hard on the walls. Again, this is a toolset that the Kings system really loves to utilize. Wingers are the first men in on the forecheck, they are the key play on the halfwall, and they are also the key hinge play for teams trying to exit their own zone. All of these ideas play very well into Andreoff's style of game, a style of game that was pretty well wasted at center. In a rudimentary way, the Kings were playing a Jordan Nolan/Kyle Clifford style player at center when No. 15 suited up down the middle. It has not made sense for most of his career so far in the NHL, but at wing he is looking like a more natural fit. Oh, he also has some pretty soft hands for passes as well which ALSO helps in driving the plays off the halfwall and into the center for his C.

Andreoff vacating a center position also opens the Kings roster up to better possibilities down the middle. Nick Shore is a good third or fourth line C. Nic Dowd in his limited appearance looks like a very good potential 4 or 3C (Granted he will probably head back to the minors soon if he continues to not play). Those two players have very different skill sets and are, without any sort of degradation intended towards Andreoff, better centers. The offensive jump in Andreoff's game is not something that we as fans and analysts should count on continuing. BUT, the POSSIBILITY is now there. The sheer fact that we HAVE seen the young Pickering, Ontario native contribute is very good. So good, in fact, that you might even consider sitting Dwight King? Kyle Clifford maybe? Both of whom have seemed to struggle this year. The latter of which has in fact been sat for Andreoff recently.

When you look at some key analytics for Andreoff, the case is there also.

(YES these are microsized, click on them to blow them up. Sorry! I blame Imgur)

View post on imgur.com

View post on imgur.com

Basically, if you are going by more of a "What have you done for me lately" way of slotting in guys to the roster, Andreoff should be right in there at the moment. Especially with the struggles of one or more lower roster players.

The what have you done for me lately tag could also apply to the recent step in of one Jamie McBain.

McBain had not played a game since February 25th. That is a stretch of 17 games on the bench over the course of just over a month. The funny thing with Jamie McBain, is that he did almost nothing to play his way out of the lineup. He pretty much supplanted Christian Ehrhoff as a puck mover on the blue line, he stayed in the lineup for a decent stretch after the acquisition of Luke Schenn, but when Scuderi was acquired his game time stopped.

This is altogether unfortunate for a few reasons.

One being that McBain has been alright. Unlike players who will play themselves into the press box, the high risk-high reward play of the former Hurricane seemed to be fitting in okay with the Kings system. Amongst the Kings seven most used defensemen this season, his corsi for per 60 is behind only Jake Muzzin. His corsi against is sandwiched between McNabb and Muzzin at No. 4 on the team. Maybe teams were scoring on him alot? Guess again, his goals for lies at an even 50% on the year. Altogether that's pretty good. The only negative that has existed with the 28-year old is that his minutes are HEAVILY skewed into the offensive zone. He is a bit specialized in his use with Darryl Sutter, but that is okay from a 6D. He can give you powerplay options and an offensive zone option. Do the Kings need another powerplay-offense specialist? Or another penalty killer?

This brings up a second point. With Jamie McBain, the Kings are running more of a traditional set up than with either Rob Scuderi or Luke Schenn. By traditional I mean a right-left balanced offensive-defensive, skating-SAH (Stay-at-home), pair.

In the most current formula of the Kings rearguards, Schenn and Scuderi have been a pair. While the righty-lefty combo has been fine, this is a pairing that does lack a bit of identity. To be fair to both Schenn and Scuderi, the pairing has not been altogether terrible, but it does stray away from the traditional formula of success for the Kings. It pushes Luke Schenn into more of an offensive role, which may be a good thing and a bad thing. Schenn shows spurts of aggressive puck carrying ability, but it may lean heavily on veteran Rob Scuderi, who doesn't quite have the skating legs he used to. It also essentially eliminates the reason they got Schenn, being that they saw him as a "Matt Greene 2.0"

This question, unlike Andreoff, becomes less about numbers and more about tastes and styles. Would you rather see Schenn or Scuderi as a shut down player on a pair? Would you rather see McBain or Schenn as a puck mover on a pair?

This is all, of course, thinking that Alec Martinez is healthy and ready to go.

Would you rather see Kevin Gravel? (Yes to this is the secret correct answer)

Like stated before, the Scuderi-Schenn pairing has not been TOO scary for the most part aside from a few firewagon shifts game to game. However, it is a departure from normalcy for the classic Kings pairings.

While it seems minor, these small depth chart moves heading into the playoffs could mean some pretty big things. If your fourth line, or your third pair is better than the other team's fourth line or third pair, that is big. The question currently is, is the Kings fourth line better with Andreoff? Is the Kings third pair better with McBain?

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