GLENDALE AZ - JANUARY 22: Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck under pressure from Lauri Korpikoski #28 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on January 22 2011 in Glendale Arizona. The Kings defeated the Coyotes 4-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Earlier today we took a look at the LA Kings' offense and we are going to continue the preview series with a look at the Kings' defense. So far the Kings have played consistently with 6 players, and they have a total of 15 points in 9 games. Every defenseman on the Kings is a plus right now, and collectively they have scored 4 goals, although no one defenseman has scored more than one goal. Just to compare that to the Coyotes, the Yotes have dressed 7 players, they have one player who is a minus, their defensemen have also scored 4 goals, but the Coyotes' defensemen have 21 points, so this looks like a pretty even matchup.
We have the breakdown of the Kings defensive pairings after the jump. Again we would like to thank Niesy at Jewels from the Crown for giving us information about the pairings.
Rob Scuderi is one of the two Kings' defensemen who have not scored a goal, but he does have an assist and is a plus 5. Drew Doughty is actually 3rd in playoff defensemen in the plus minus rating with a plus 7 and is one of the 5 defensemen in the playoffs with 6 points, he currently leads the Kings' defensemen in points. Of the pair Doughty gets more time on ice and more shifts, he actually leads the Kings average time on ice with 25:45 and hasn't been on the ice longer than 28:18 in this year's playoffs. These two were only a minus during 2 games, both against Vancouver, which really shows how good they can be. Its not surprising which one of the two is taking more shots, Doughty has 18 shots on goal, including 6 shots in the first game against the Canucks, although only one of those shots found its way into the net, while Scuderi only has 6 shots on goal.
The second pairing of Slava Voynov and Willie Mitchell has a combined 2 goals and 1 assist. Mitchell gets more time than Voynov, he is sent out for extra shutdown shifts with Matt Greene and he spends some time on the penalty kill. In terms of average time on the ice Voynov spends about 17:47 while Mitchell is on the ice for 25:04 making him second in most time spent on the ice. Mitchell spends some time on the power play unit and netted a power play goal in the first game against Vancouver, although offensively he has been quiet since then. Voynov's lone goal was in the first game against Blues, and he has only taken 9 shots on goal during the entire series, which averages out to one a game.
The bottom pairing of Matt Greene and Alec Martinez is a good pair that is starting to become better offensively. Greene got the game winning goal and 3 assists in the four games against St. Louis giving him the second highest point total for defensemen, which is good because he is second to last in terms of ice time. He is described as "a physical, hard-hitting defensive defenseman" and if he is starting to find his offense that could make him very dangerous. Martinez was described as a "good puckmover" and he found his way onto the first power play unit, although his sole point was from an assist in the first game against the Canucks. You get the feeling that these guys are being trusted with more time on ice, Greene and Martinez average 16:13 and 15:02 but in the last game they played 19:32 and 18:24.
There is no doubt that the LA Kings are a defensively oriented team and their defensive pairings all have played fairly well. The fact that every player is a plus is a little frightening and explains why they have gotten here in only 9 games, but part of me wonders how much of that can be attributed to the excellent play of Jonathon Quick. We probably aren't going to have to worry about the defensemen generating the offense in this series like you imagine Keith Yandle or Oliver Ekman-Larsson doing, but with the way LA's offense has been playing they probably don't need to get much offense from the D-men. The good news is that the Coyotes have faced great defensemen in the last series, including what some people say is the best defensive pairing of 2 time Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
One final important thing to note is that because the Kings have only had to dress 6 defensemen, if for whatever reason one of their players can't play they are going to have to bring in Davis Drewiske who only played 9 games this season and hasn't played since February 18th unless they go with someone from the AHL.