February 20, 2012

LA Kings Going to Shake It Up

Who would have ever thought that at game 60, we would see a player like Jordan Nolan on the top line playing with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams?  Who would have ever thought that at game 60, the Kings would be ranked dead last in the NHL in goals scored?  Who would have ever thought that at game 60, the Kings would be on the outside looking in - tied with Calgary with 65 points in 9th place?  I can keep going, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon to "catch my drift." 

I remember sitting glued in front of the television during the opening game of the NHL season and getting chills when Mike Modano and Marty Turco predicted the Kings to win the Stanley Cup.  I actually believed it this time.  I had just opened the packet received from the Kings which contained my tickets for the season.  I was ready to go!  What happened?  What went wrong?  Why, all of a sudden, the Kings just can't put the puck in the net?  In their previous game against Calgary, I kept mentioning to my friends that it doesn't appear to be a lack of effort. The chances were certainly there.  The effort seemed like it was there.  The puck just does not go in!

Today, coach Sutter decided to shake things up… again.  The following lines were reported to be skating in practice this morning:

Nolan / Kopitar / Williams
King / Richards / Brown
Clifford / Loktionov / Lewis
Penner / Fraser / Richardson
(Westgarth, Stoll)

Sutter also expressed his displeasure in the play and effort of his top players in Kopitar and Brown.  He was quoted saying: 

"Neither one has done much for six weeks. These guys talk too much about the team. They should talk more about more about themselves, what they bring to the table. … Kopi and Brownie have been stale, from my standpoint, for a little while together. In terms of producing opportunities, if it’s working backwards, in terms of who you perceive as your fourth line, to your first, then it’s not really a team thing.’’

That is a statement we have never heard directed towards those two players as Kings fans.  In the past, Terry Murray scapegoated players like Frolov when things went south.  It is very refreshing to see a coach who is not afraid to criticize his "star" players when deserved.  Whether or not this will light a fire under them, is yet to be seen.  The Kings are set to face the Coyotes in Phoenix tomorrow night for the most important game of the season thus far.  The outcome of the game could very well decide their fate in the season.  I'm never a fan of math when it comes to sports.  The Kings could drop tomorrow's game and still have plenty of games to make up for it, but hockey is based on momentum, heart, and belief… just ask the Anaheim Ducks.  You want to talk about a must win?  Tomorrow night is it.

What I think should happen is the following:  Dustin Penner, Dwight King, and Jordan Nolan need to get their bodies in front of the net.  This is how the Kings scored goals last season.  Of course, we had willing players like Smyth and Handzus who made a living doing that… but you've got to do these things in order to score. This is the main reason why the scoring has been down (understatement) this season.  No player is willing to get banged up in front of the net to score those ugly goals.  A big guy like Penner has no business coasting around during a power play when the team is struggling to score.

Interesting facts:

Since the old Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix and became the Coyotes in 1996, the Kings record against them has been 35-41-6T-4OTL-2SOL.  While playing in Phoenix, the record is 14-23-2T-3OTL-1SOL. Phoenix, in their last 10 games has gone 8-1-1 gaining 17 out of 20 points.  The Kings have gone 4-5-1 with a terrible 9 out of 20.  The last game the two teams played recorded a total of 4 fighting majors for each team and 62 penalty minutes altogether.  
-Mike Torosyan 

1 comment:

  1. Great read. Keep up the good honest writing. Is it feb 27 yet? End this circus and worry about the playoffs. You know this is on the minds of many in that locker room with the current issues, and deadline looming.