KORAB Grit Numbers: Kings-Sharks Recap + Kings-Ducks Games 1 & 2

The Kings completed the #ReverseSweep against the Sharks, and now the dead men have walked into the Honda Center in Anaheim and laid waste to the decrepit Orange County environs.

But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s look back at the Sharks series.  In games 3-7 most hockey experts say the Kings got back to “Kings hockey” – possession-driving, strong defensive play – and, as a result, they went 4-1 over that stretch, losing overtime of Game 3 off of an unfortunate bounce.

The KORAB percentages back up the change in play of the series.  The Sharks had the edge in total KORAB percentage after Game 3, thus had the 3-0 advantage,  But, since that point the Kings regained the overall lead with a crushing and bruising Game 4.  It was at that point that some people really started to question the leadership abilities of the Sharks veterans, namely Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, who had less than stellar KORAB percentages throughout the series.  As you will see, the two of them gritted it out during Game 7, but by that point it was too little too late.  You cannot just decide when and where to turn it on, and Game 7 certainly proved that old chestnut.

Remember, KORAB percentage attempts to calculate the grittiest players on a team, those that sacrifice their body for the overall benefit of the TEAM.  The higher the KORAB generally results from a higher desire to do what it takes to win.  Thus, you will see the Kings have a slightly higher team KORAB percentage than the Sharks, thus they won the series albeit in closely-contested seven games.  Of course, some skill players may not take the hits, block the shots, and play the tough minutes required of TRUE CHARACTER, but Don Cherry does a good enough job of pointing out those guys anyway.  Although they have a role in the NHL, no one is going to build them a statue or praise their effort.  KORAB attempts to determine where the fat can be cut – or scratched, as it were – especially among non-skill players.

Kings Game 7 KORAB:

g7 k

Kings Series KORAB:

total k

Sharks Game 7 KORAB:

g7 s

Sharks Series KORAB:

total s

Let’s not spend too much time on the past, only to say that Thornton and Marleau did log decent grit numbers in Game 7, but long after the numbers of Torres, Brown, Desjardins, and others had regressed to a point of ineffectiveness.  Meanwhile, the Kings got the likely sources of determination from Brown and Stoll, and the want-to from unlikely players like Lewis, Muzzin, and Martinez.  If the Sharks had one more character guy, a Daniel Carcillo or Colin Fraser-type player, it may have changed the tide of this series.

Now, let’s forget about the Sharks and move on to the current series with the Ducks.  The Freeway Faceoff!  Despite appearing like they have been outplayed for much of the series, the Kings took both games in Anaheim.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Kings Game 1 KORAB:

g1 k

Ducks Game 1 KORAB:

g1 d

Dustin Brown is picking up where he left off in the last series, while Jarret Stoll started this series like the last one.  Not a great sign for Stoll, but not surprising given the nature of the previous series.  Let’s just hope he took one game off to rest.

Matt Greene and Alec Martinez have carried the Kings, despite their low overall KORAB number.

Meanwhile, the bottom nine forwards of the Ducks, those that many do not believe add much secondary scoring, played with the necessary amount of hustle to win.  And look at Fistric’s percentage!  That guy is a gamer, and the Kings are going to have to find a matchup that slows him down if they want to continue to have success in the series.

Kings Game 2 KORAB:

g2 k

Kings Series KORAB:

g12 k

Ducks Game 2 KORAB:

g2 d

Ducks Series KORAB:

g12 d

Robert from Jewels from the Crown posted this handy chart on Twitter the other day that shows the matchup of Ryan Getzlaf and Anze Kopitar from Game 2.  Noticeably, the Kings wouldn’t let Kopitar out of Getzlaf’s sight.  As a result, Getzlaf has a poor KORAB percentage on the top line.  Who is he going to hit and out-work, Anze Kopitar?  Not bloody likely.

If we think back to the Sharks series, the bottom six forwards were the ones that carried the toughness and playoff mentality through the first few games of the series until their effectiveness wore off.  The Ducks cannot allow this to happen to them if they want to have a prolonged series with the Kings.  Perry had an impressive Game 2, but had nothing to show for it on the score sheet.  If the Kings can continue to contain Getzlaf and keep Perry from becoming a part of the offense, then the Ducks will be in trouble when and if the other forwards start to regress.  The Kings have not needed to be tough because they have gotten an early goal in each game, and as a result played more of a delay game with the high-energy Ducks.  This is not necessarily about toughness, but being in the right place at the right time, and possessing the puck.  Those other #fancystats.

Now you can see why hockey analytic folks talk about regression when they talk about the Ducks.  This is a team that may out-tough another team, but will not out-muscle or out-work them.  Right now they are out-KORABing the Kings, but only because they have to work harder to make their top line guys score.  No one will doubt the younger Ducks high-energy, gritty performances so far (some may call it gritergy), but, just like the Sharks, when the top line does not score, the team does not score.  Three goals in two games does not an offense make.

Meanwhile, Gaborik and Kopitar can skill their way to victories while supporting players like Alec Martinez are scooping up rebounds and making game saving blocks.

The Kings are 2-1 at Staples Center in the playoffs, and the intensity will be turned up when they finally get to play in front of their home fans for the first time in three games.  Will the Ducks answer the bell?

If not, the bell may begin to toll for them.

Flubber McGee is TRH's resident Kansas City correspondent, and has survived as a Kings fan long before the dawn of Internet streaming sites. He has seen the Kings win exactly zero non-exhibition games in person. Have you ever achieved enlightenment? Flubber has, because he once witnessed Kevin and Brett Westgarth fight in, and get kicked out of, the same game (they didn't fight each other, unfortunately). In addition to being a part of TRH, Flubber runs a Kansas City hockey blog. It's exactly what you think it is. You can follow Flubber McGee on Twitter @FlubberMcGee.