Thursday, December 18, 2008
Hips Thoughts- Close but no Cigar
Plenty on the platter this AM so lets get right to it shall we?
Where else can one start when dissecting last nights game then the man between the pipes. Some refer to him as LOLbarbara but I think I will elect to go with Jason LaCloutier. Honestly, his performance last night as the game went on continually disintegrated and to be honest, with him obviously laboring I felt the Kings lucky to get into the OT.
So at the end of the 1st how disappointing must it have been in the locker room to out shoot the Rangers 14-3 and still go in tied at 1-1. Once they Rangers scored that goal you almost felt it in your bones that this was not going to end with a victory. It was the same feeling I got when Gauthier made that ill advised pass in the Detroit game. I mean-you just "knew" the outcome was not going to be in the Kings favor. And the Penalty Shot? Once again-you almost knew 110%.....hell 1110% that there was no way JLB was going to make that save no matter how good or bad the shot was. And the coup de grâce in overtime-how can a goalie be in the right place positionally and still miss a shot from the blue line? It was a well placed shot but much like the first goal, JLB was positionally sound to make the save yet didn't.
The Rangers were going to win, you knew it when JLB couldn't control any rebounds-even the shots that trickled towards him he couldn't control. I can't recall that last I saw a goalie who was so poor at picking up the puck and yet being so poor at controlling the puck. It was literally the text book definition of the term "fighting the puck." Once again, the vision of JLB sprawled on the ice with Rangers circling will forever be ensconced in my memory. I'm sure I can go write paragraphs further about the level of goaltending but who bother because A)its not news and B)its very apparent to all who follow the team. Some say Ersberg isnt that much better then JLB-I point out that Ersberg actually won a game in OT in the shootout which means the Ersberg has actually stopped a penalty shot or two this season. This alone proves he is better.
One last kick in the nads for you- rangers goalie Stephen Valiquette was a draft pick of the Kings having been drafted in 1996 - 8th round (190th overall). Not that Valiquette is Lundquist but how sad is it that he clearly outplayed JLB. Is there anyone who wouldn't almost take any goalie in the NHL over JLB at this point?
The Rangers are a very good team and my pick to make the Eastern Finals if not make the Cup. You could see where they were well coached, had good size, could skate, and have great goaltending. They really have a good well balanced team this year. I personally hope it ends up with Boston and the Rags in the finals-how great would that be?
Was I the only one a bit disappointing the Kings seemed to be pushed around last night? When Voros was roughing Doughty-where was the help? Also seemed like there were a lot of borderline crosschecks and boarding calls then went unnoticed by the Ref. Maybe just a textbook case of homer bias on my part?
Some player thoughts....
Zherdev- Why couldn't the Kings have landed this guy? He was acquired for Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman. Talk about a sweetheart trade. This almost looks like a trade some of the Old Kings regimes would have made and one we would forever cringe at the thought of. On the other hand, nice to see other teams can make colossal blunders and in this case-it wasnt a Pacific division rival who landed Zherdev. For that we should all be grateful.
Ivanans, Zeiler, and Purcell all saw almost no ice time at all. Out of the three Purcell had the most Ice time with 7 plus minutes. Zeiler didn't help his case any with a bad decision at the blue line that led to a scoring chance. Kind of surprised Purcell didnt get more time but Murray made a move in the 3rd to get Moller time on the big line. Ivanans may be a top 10 fighter-actually fighting wise but hes got to be one of the worst "enforcers." I would almost like to see him replaced by a Middle Weight whose not a liability. Chris Neil anyone?
Calder-Cant believe he was awarded one of the games stars but Calder is very consistent in that he cant handle the puck cleanly on the breakout, he cant cycle the puck and doesnt have the strength/size to win the battle on the boards. I called him the rally killer in a previous post and my thoughts on that haven't changed.
Terry Murray has a very tough decision over the next 2 games. Quick will probably get 1 start. Question is-do you play him in Buffalo and almost assure a loss against Detroit with JLB in nets or do you give JLB the start in Buffalo to show him some confidence and maybe pray to god he rebounds? Of course this is very unfair to Quick since he would get the start in Detroit which is never an easy task. Quite frankly at this point, I really agree with someone who posted yesterday that said the Kings should call up Quick and Bernier and send JLB to Manchester. I am not sure if it was said in jest or what not but really- I am sure regardless of what the players say, none of them has faith in JLB.
I am sure I'll think of some addendum's but I will leave this on a positive note.
The Kings aren't that far away from being a very good team. They have been in almost every game they have played this season. In my opinion the team is 3 players away from being a very solid team.
Obviously starting between the pipes the Kings need to get a clear cut solid #1 goalie they can run with. The good part here as well is they dont really need a Luongo or a Brodeur. Just a solid #1 guy who makes the saves he supposed to and make the occasional big save. Once again, it would be nice to have an All-Star but with the current Kings style even someone of the Tomas Vokoun or Dwayne Roloson caliber goalie will put this team at the next level. Let us pray and pray hard that Bernier, Quick, Zatkoff, or Martin Jones can step up and be the first Kings drafted goalie in the history of the Franchise to be the man in goal. How sad is it that since 1967 the kings have yet to develop 1 quality goalie?
The next 2 positions are both that of 3rd and 4th line forwards. Sure it would be nice to get a Kovalchuk on one of the front lines but think how much better the team would be if we could replace Zeiler and Calder with a couple of Mike Peca or Todd Marchant caliber players. It is not really asking that much to fill these positions with guys who can simply make the smart play, when the occasional battle on the boards, make a nice head man pass or receive and cleanly play a breakout pass. How much do we miss Ian Laperierre now? Steve Kasper-Where are you? Pat Conacher-come on down!
This is really a blessing in disguise as the pieces that will make this a better team of semi easy to acquire or fill. Its not like they need a 1st line center and winger and a #1 Dman. The hard pieces of the puzzle are pieces we already have which is a true blessing given the relative youth of the team. If one of the 3 goalie prospects can pan out along with the economic issues of some teams with Cap Space and what not-the Kings are in a very good position right now. Arguably the best position the franchise has ever been in. Which once again begs the question-How sad is that?