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Signs of life against tough matchups by LA's fourth line

October 21, 2015, 11:36 PM ET [33 Comments]
Jason Lewis
Los Angeles Kings Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

It really is the smallest of small sample sizes.

Andreoff, Nolan, and Clifford.

At the start of the year, if you asked the average Kings fan if they liked the Kings' fourth line, it would yielded a bevy of different opinions. In the end though, it's a line that plays anywhere from six to 10 minutes a night. How much of an impact could it actually have?

This season though they have been altogether great on a night to night basis.

The fourth line of the Kings has, perhaps, been the most consistent performers on the season.

Again though, they are simply a fourth line. What you want to see those, as you want to see with most players, is an improvement from previous years. Right now, that is what the Kings are getting.

Here is a look at the scoring chance generation and the shots for % of the currently fourth line players over the past three seasons:


View post on imgur.com

And actually, when you look at it in relation to the entire Kings team currently...it is, again, pretty good!

View post on imgur.com

Now this is nothing ground-breaking by any means, but there is a simple yet satisfying fact in the numbers.

The LA fourth line is essentially outplaying the opposing lines placed against them.

Against the Colorado Avalanche the other night, the Avs suited up:

Mikhail Grigorenko, Jack Skille, and Cody McLeod.

In their limited time facing one another (around two and a half total minutes), the fourth line of the Kings held an outstanding 87 to 90% Corsi for. They limited the Colorado fourth line to a solitary shot directed towards net while generating 11 of their own at even-strength.

Against Minnesota, Andreoff, Clifford, and Nolan faced off against Erik Haula, Chris Porter, and Ryan Carter for around 3:30. The Kings' fourth line again bested the opposition in possession, logging around a 66% Corsi for percentage.

Against a good opponent, the San Jose Sharks (no offense to Minnesota), the fourth line was actually one of the ONLY positive lines that night.

Here is a look at the game recap of head to head matchups from War on Ice.

View post on imgur.com

Before you start having a seizure induced from that table, know that blue boxes are positive possession while red boxes are negative. Clifford, Nolan and Andreoff were very good. The victims that night? Chris Tierney, Tomas Hertl, and Matt Nieto.

Now, just from the eye test alone you would absolutely say that Nieto, Tierney, and Hertl are a more talented line on paper. Correct?

The two lines met for 4:00 total minutes that night head to head, and the Kings' fourth line limited Chris Tierney to one attempt towards net while limiting Hertl and Nieto to two. So as a whole, the Sharks line put no more than two total attempts towards net while on the ice against the fourth line. Meanwhile, the Kings generated a healthy average of around seven.

Not bad.

Now again, this is a line with the Kings that plays generally around six to 10 minutes a night given the progression of the game. Nevertheless, it is good to recognize good play when it is there. They may only play a third of what Anze Kopitar or Jeff Carter plays on any given night, but if it is a third where they can dominate their opponents then that is a very good thing. Depth matters, and through the trying bits of the early season one of the predominantly positive things game to game has been the play of the fourth line.

Will they continue to be effective in their limited role?

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